Carlo Ancelotti praised Everton for the way they listen to their supporters as the fallout from the botched Super League plans continues.
All six English clubs who initially signed up for the league have now withdrawn, while Everton themselves posted a statement in fierce opposition to the plans on Tuesday.
And speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s trip to one of those six clubs, Arsenal, Ancelotti revealed his immediate reaction to the initial news of the Super League on Sunday, and explained why he felt Everton would never have signed up to it even if asked:
“My immediate reaction was that they are joking. I was interviewed a few weeks ago about this and said it’s not going to happen.
“Sport culture in Europe is different to American sports, not because we are right and they are wrong. In the USA, there are entertaining sports, but in Europe, we live with the passion of the result. When we grew up, we tried to beat the friends from our neighbourhood. Only entertaining is not sport.
“It’s true that football now is sport and business, but we have to take both into consideration. Football is a sport first, and then, with a lot of investment, it also becomes a business.
“Everton is a family club, it’s a club where you can feel the love of the supporters. In Everton’s history, they’ve taken care of their supporters, maybe more than others. I’m sure that whenever Everton make a decision, they take into consideration the opinion of the supporters.
“I think, for every supporter of football, it was a surprise. We heard about the Super League in the past few months, but I was sure that it was not going to happen. They were wrong. These 12 clubs were wrong. They didn’t take into consideration the opinions of two really important parts: the players and managers, and the supporters.
“Usually, these two parts are never involved. The players and managers are never involved in the scheduling of the Premier League, the Champions League, and it’s really important. The schedule now is too busy. Take into consideration all these kind of things. And the most important thing - they wanted to build up a competition without sport merit.”
Among the driving forces behind the plans is Real Madrid chairman Florentino Perez, whom Ancelotti worked with during his spell as manager at the Bernabeu between 2013 and 2015.
Asked if he thinks Perez will try to amend his plans, Ancelotti believes that discussions on revamping the Champions League would make sense, adding he is not the right person to say whether the clubs involved should be punished:
“I’m not the right person to judge, and to say if they have to be punished. There are rules that have to be respected, and that’s it. That’s not my decision. I think everyone can make mistakes, but I cannot say if they have to be punished or not.
“I think the Super League, as they proposed it, is impossible. But in 2024, there will be a new format of the Champions League. There, I think they can talk, and find the best solution to make this competition more exciting and competitive.”
Ancelotti also said that the Super League news has not distracted Everton’s players or staff from their preparations for tomorrow’s game at Arsenal, adding that it felt inevitable that the plans would fall through.
He also commended the strong, unanimous opposition to the Super League from numerous quarters, and believes this highlighted the importance supporters still have in football:
“Honestly, we didn’t talk a lot about this because there was nothing to say. It was quite clear for us that it was not going to happen for the reasons that I said before. We were focused on training, on the game.
“I think the reaction of all the world, politicians, players, managers, supporters was really, really strong. That shows how important the supporters are in this world.”
On tomorrow’s game, the first of seven left for Everton this season, Ancelotti does not believe it will decide their destiny, but admits it is pivotal against the side one place below them in the table.
Ancelotti also confirmed that he has a fully-fit squad to pick from, aside from longer-term absentees, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin.
That means that all of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina, André Gomes, Fabian Delph and Bernard have recovered from their respective setbacks and could feature at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow:
“A really important game. Not decisive, but really important. The last seven games are really important. There’s a lot of competition there. You see also the results - a lot of draws, so it means a really competitive final period of the season.
“I think we are ready. It’s true that we didn’t have a good moment in the last month, but now we are much better. We have a lot of players available; almost all the squad - apart from Doucouré and Gbamin. but the others are in good condition, and I think we are ready to fight in this final part of the season.
“Not only them [Calvert-Lewin and Mina], we have Gomes, Delph and Bernard back, so the squad is much, much better. I have a lot of options. I am pleased and confident.”