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Ancelotti on the secrets behind Everton’s flying start, his relationship with James and the futures of Davies and Gordon

The Toffees boss has raised standards across the board - but is demanding more


Carlo Ancelotti is known for his calm, measured management style rarely ranting or raving on the touchline or in interviews - even his book is called ‘quiet leadership’.

I’m sure he loses in temper in private, but it remains within the confines of the dressing room and rarely strays into the public domain.

So that’s what made a post-match interview after Everton’s game against Wolves in July so unusual, because it was a rare public attack from the softly spoken Italian.

Ancelotti, after a particularly miserable 3-0 defeat, laid into his players, saying their performance and spirit was “unacceptable”.

He went on:

“I spoke to the players and we have to prepare and work differently and have a different attitude.

“I don’t want to talk individually about every single player. I said to them this attitude is not acceptable for me and we have to change immediately. I want to see a different spirit.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

What a different three months makes.

It would be oversimplifying things to suggest an improvement in spirit and attitude are the only reasons behind Everton’s flying start, but there is certainly a newfound resilience and character in the side to go with the added quality from the likes of James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure.

That newfound spirit was demonstrated on Saturday, as the Toffees twice fought back from a goal down to claim a point against Liverpool and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

It is little surprise therefore, that Ancelotti has once again spoken about the character of this side, which is world’s apart from the rabble that fell so meekly to defeat at Molineux.

Though like any boss, he is demanding even more.

“This team has good professional players and, slowly, slowly, they are showing more character, attitude and personality. This is important.

“I think we can show these qualities more when we have a clear idea what we are going to do on the pitch and for this we have to work in training.

“But I think everyone can improve – also James, Allan and the more experienced players.

“The quality of the training is better… it is important to keep this high.

“Every player has to show his own leadership.

“Not only players like Allan – the others can show leadership by example, by being professional on the pitch and training ground.

“That is not so difficult.”

Everton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images

The pull of Ancelotti was undoubtedly key in luring Allan and James to the club, both of whom have a close relationship with the former Napoli and Real Madrid boss.

For James in-particular, Ancelotti is almost a father-figure and his best performances throughout his career, certainly at club level, have come under his stewardship.

Speaking of his relationship with James, Ancelotti told Copa90:

“We have a mutual trust. I know what he can do. I know what he needs.

“And I think also that James knows what I have and what I need.

“I simply ask him to show his quality. To put the quality he has on the pitch.”

The likes of James and Allan have raised the bar, not just on a matchday but in training, setting the standard the other players can follow.

That has already had an impact, with some players who have perhaps underperformed in recent seasons showing greater consistency this term.

One of those is the much maligned Tom Davies, who was linked with a move away from the club this summer but has been assured he has a future at the club by Ancelotti.

“Tom can improve because he is still young, although he has more experience than our other young players.

“I think Tom has the advantage that he can play in all the positions in the midfield.

“He can play as a holding midfielder but it depends what we are going to ask from him.

“Against Brighton, he did really well tactically… [exactly] what I asked from him.

“He didn’t have to do special, fantastic passes, he had to control well the position in front of our two centre-backs and, honestly, he did really well, tactically.”

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Peter Byrne - Pool/Getty Images

Another youngster keen to impress is Anthony Gordon, who became a regular in the first-team squad during the restart but has mainly been restricted to Carabao Cup appearances so far this season.

That could change in the next few weeks with Richarlison suspended for three matches following his red card in the derby.

Last month it was revealed that Gordon asked Ancelotti what he needed to do to break into the first-team once more

What asked what he told Gordon, the Toffees’ boss said:

“To be patient. He needs to be patient because there is a lot of competition in the team, in all the positions.

“I want to have competition in all the positions – defenders, midfielder, strikers, also goalkeepers.

“I think the competition keeps the intensity of the training. We need quality and high intensity to keep away the difficulties.

“He reacted really well [to their conversation]. They are young, so they want to play.

“This is good, to have ambition to play because this gives the players motivation.”

Fleetwood Town v Everton - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images