Everton host a resurgent Brighton & Hove Albion tomorrow at Goodison Park, with the visitors smarting from a number of unfortunate decisions that saw them lose against Chelsea and Manchester United in their opening three Premier League games.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Carlo Ancelotti envisaged a bit of a goal-fest with both sides showing good attacking form.
“I saw the game against United, they played a fantastic game. They are playing fantastic football, their idea of football is really clear and exciting.
“We would like to attack tomorrow, it will be an open game. I’m sure of this. Both teams have a good attacking style, and the winner will be the team that defends better.”
Brighton manager Graham Potter has described Ancelotti as a football legend, what does the Italian manager have to say about his counterpart tomorrow?
“I’m pleased to hear this. Sometimes being called a legend is to be called old! I still feel young.
“I don’t know Graham well, but he is doing a fantastic job. Brighton played good football last season, they have a really clear identity, and you can judge a manager not only for his results, but also his team’s identity, and that is very clear.”
Yannick Bolasie has been training with the squad and staying positive on social media regarding a chance to play for Ancelotti, but it appears the manager has closed the door on him.
“Bolasie is doing well in training, he is a professional. He is not part of the squad, but he can train with us until the end of the market. We have a big squad, but unfortunately but there is no space for him.”
On that large squad, Ancelotti was asked how he can keep players happy especially when they are not getting a chance to play, or even make the matchday squad. The veteran gaffer chose an interesting way to respond to this, possibly making a thinly-veiled reference to a number of players who have not seen much game time including Moise Kean and Anthony Gordon.
“I don’t want to keep the players happy, that is not the goal. I want to get results with the club.
“It is impossible to keep all the players happy, but sometimes the sadness of the players, maybe even being upset with the manager, can be good motivation to work hard, to focus, to wait, because when the moment comes, if you are ready it will come sooner or later.
“The players that were not involved in the last games could be involved tomorrow, and they have to be ready. I often say to the players, ‘the judge is not the manager, the judge is the training ground’.
“If you do well on the training ground, you have a possibility to play. My job is to look at what the player does in training and then after that I choose the lineup.”
Ancelotti could not have dreamed up a better start to the season with six straight wins, but recognizes that tougher challenges lay ahead and that his side will not continue to have everything going their way.
“There are a lot of reasons [why Everton are doing well], the first is that the new signings improved the quality of the squad. The players who are here now are more motivated, have more ambition, we started well, the atmosphere is good.
“But I know this beautiful bubble where everything is okay, everything is perfect, is going to finish. When the danger comes, we have to be ready, we have to be strong there.
“Maybe it comes tomorrow, because the opponent is really strong. If we are not focused there then the danger will come tomorrow for sure.”
Tomorrow will mark the Italian’s 100th Premier League game across Chelsea and Everton, and he was asked what his favourite game of those hundred was.
“This is difficult, I think it was the victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford that practically gave us the title when I was at Chelsea.
“And of course, the reception that I received in my first game here [at Goodison Park] against Burnley.”