That a manager of Carlo Ancelotti’s ilk, one with status, experience and success, would even be in the consideration to take over the reins at Everton speaks highly about how far the club has come from the days in the late nineties when the organization was being run into the ground and receivership a distinct possibility.
Under the stewardship of Bill Kenwright, flawed as it might have been, and now bankrolled by Farhad Moshiri, the Toffees not only have a manager that has seen it all, done it all and then some, but has chosen to come to Everton and indeed has described it as the biggest challenge of managerial career.
It has been a good week for the Blues with the monkey of a Derby win at Anfield finally off the team’s back, the very positive news that the City Council have approved the construction plans for the new stadium on the Bramley-Moore docks and also that Lucas Digne has signed a new deal that will keep him at Everton until 2024-25.
Speaking ahead of Everton’s home game on Monday night against Southampton, Ancelotti indicated that he was very pleased with the progress he has seen in the last fourteen months.
“I would like to be here when the new stadium is open [assuming the 2024 target is met]. It would be a good achievement for me.
“To finish the contract in 2024 means you did a good job – and the contract will not be stopped, it will continue. The time I spent here, I felt good and would like to stay as long as possible.
“In the past few days there was a lot of good news and we are working to keep the good news every day. It is really important to have the trust of the Club, without this it is difficult to do your job at your best.
“Also, the players must have trust in you and you have to trust the players. We have a good relationship and I hope to continue.”
While there may have been some skepticism around the appointment of the veteran Italian in some quarters initially, the manner in which he has carried himself both on and off the pitch has won over even the most hardened of Everton cynics who thought the 61-year-old was here for a last big payday.
While Everton continue to be strong away from home going eight games unbeaten, their form at Goodison Park has been quite awful. The Toffees’ record of four wins, two draws and six losses is only fifteenth best in the league, with the Blues often faltering against teams in the bottom half of the table.
The absence of the Blues’ rabid support in the stands has certainly contributed to this and also why Everton are continuing to do well in quiet away stadiums, but Ancelotti acknowledged that this trend needed to be corrected immediately for the Toffees to realize their European football ambitions this season.
“In my opinion, we don’t have to look at the table, we have to play game by game and see where we are at the end of the season.
“It is really important for us to play in Europe next season, it is a step forwards for the players and the Club. We have to work hard because it will not be easy, a lot of teams are involved, but I think we can compete until the end.
“If we want to fight for a European position, we have to improve at Goodison.
“The players are really focused. They know... what they have to do to be in the position to play in Europe next season. In away games, we were more focused defensively, we made fewer mistakes.
“At home, maybe, we were thinking the game was easier and were not able to keep the concentration we had away. We are going to play the teams at the bottom [five of Everton’s next six league matches are against sides currently 13th or lower], where we had more problems.
“We have to be able to solve this… the league is a high level and the teams at the bottom are doing well.”
So far Ancelotti and his coaching staff have shown that they can be very adaptable to circumstances, whether it’s with revolutionising how the team defends and attacks set-pieces to innovative lineups that bring out the best in the players on the pitch. Let’s put it this way, if anyone can turn the Blues’ home form around especially in this upcoming crucial phase, it’s Carlo Ancelotti.