Everton will return to home comforts tomorrow to take on Leeds United, with the historic club marking their return to the Premier League this season. Speaking ahead of the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti was asked about a number of topics, starting with Alex Iwobi’s good showing last weekend in the right wingback position.
“I was happy with his performance, he did well. He can cover the wingback position well.
“Iwobi is a good player, he needs to feel confidence as everyone. The player feels confidence when he plays.
“For Alex it’s important to feel that he is around teammates and the manager has confidence in him.”
In an interview this week Andre Gomes said that he is still trying to get back to full fitness at the moment. What does Ancelotti do to keep the spirits of fringe players up?
“It is the most difficult and important aspect to manage the players who are not playing at the moment.
“Andre Gomes had a good start to the season, he started very well and played many games. The last few games he has not played much. He is still is a very important player for us. Doesn’t matter how many games he is going to play until the end of the season.
“He will play to the best of his ability. I am not disappointed with him because from the start of the season until now he was really really good.
“Sometimes you choose the lineup for the tactical and physical aspect, you have to consider everything.”
Jonjoe Kenny traveled with the squad to London last weekend but did not make the matchday eighteen.
“He is not fit 100% but he is fit. He has recovered from his injury, it was not an easy recovery, but he is available to play.
“I think he is not at his best at this moment because he was out for three weeks but now he is training with the team and will be at 100% soon.”
With Lucas Digne out for the near future, will we see more of the three-man backline and wingback formation?
“That is a good question, it is something we are thinking about still. Three centrebacks can be an option still.
“Without Lucas Digne we still have Niels Nkounkou, he is young but has a lot of quality. In my opinion Iwobi can play on the left without any problems like he played right wing last week. We will see.”
What was his take on the squad improvement coming up on his one year anniversary with the club?
“How much I don’t know, but we have improved. We have to keep improving, we are yet to show all the quality we have at this moment.
“The squad is competitive, but we can reach higher, we are not at the top. We have improved compared to last season. We have more confidence, more knowledge. The players know what I’m thinking about football. I know them better. The good signings have made the squad better, so we have improved.”
In Ancelotti’s opinion, what is the one main reason for Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s improvement?
“He was focused a lot on working hard and now his focus has changed to working hard in the box, that is what has clicked.”
James Rodriguez looked to take more of a central role against Fulham than in previous games, will we be seeing more of that?
“When we have the ball he doesn’t have a specific position. Defensively the position he has to cover is centre right and Richarlison is centre left. With the ball honestly he is going to usually find the space he wants to play in.
“Sometimes he has to move since he is strongly marked and has to move right to find more space when we have the ball.”
Finally, we heard rumours earlier this week that Marcel Brands was being pursued by Manchester United, with the Everton Director of Football’s three year contract ending this summer. Ancelotti appeared surprised by the rumour when asked for his take on the Dutchman’s situation.
“I have a good relationship with him. But apart from the friendship, I think he is doing a fantastic job. He has been at the club here longer than me, I found the club very well organized. I found a really important scouting department, so I think it will be important for him to continue and to find a deal with the club.”