Everton have two matches left in the 2020-21 season, a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers with 6,500 fans to be allowed into the stands, and then a trip to Premier League champions Manchester City, who will likely unveil the trophy before the game with supporters allowed into the Etihad for the first time this season.
Luckily for the Blues, there’s no pressure any more with chances of qualifying for Europe virtually nil at this point and so we might actually get to watch some better quality football instead of the dross that has been on offer lately.
Speaking ahead of the Wolves clash, manager Carlo Ancelotti provided an injury update to start off and what he will be looking for from his side.
“We have Yerry Mina back, we have Joshua King back. Only Jean-Philippe Gbamin is out for this game, all the others are available.
“It’s always good to have the whole squad available. We can then make the right choices for the lineup tomorrow. The lineup I put in place tomorrow will not be as important as the reaction, the attitude that we show after the defeat against Sheffield United.
“The key point is not the lineup but the attitude and the strong reaction we have to show above all because we have the supporters back it will be important to show them a good attitude and a good spirit.
“The supporters at the stadium are going to give us more motivation, more support. We’ve had two times the fans in the stadium, only 2,000, and we won both games against Chelsea and Arsenal.
“We don’t have a lot of possibility, but we can still have the dream for Europe but only if we are able to win these two games. I don’t want to talk a lot because we are so disappointed about the game on Sunday and I would like to see a reaction from the team.”
After the game Ancelotti had said that he was ‘embarrassed’ by his side’s performance, has he had a chance to speak to the players yet?
“We trained yesterday in different groups so I didn’t meet them together. Today we have the training to plan for tomorrow’s game, I will see them today. We only need to do one thing: show a great reaction.”
Everton’s Jekyll-and-Hyde performances home and away have been equally confounding and thrilling.
“It’s difficult to explain how we are so good away and so bad at home. Away we always showed strong spirit and strong sacrifice, maybe this is the reason. When we are forced to sacrifice, to focus, and to be concentrated we did so well.
“We were not able to win a lot of games with only quality, but with sacrifice it made the difference. I looked yesterday, we planned 21 games to be strong defensively, play on the counter-attack and to be strong on set-pieces. Of these games we won 14 games. With sacrifice, maybe we scored early, we played against stronger teams and planned to defend and counterattack.
“In the other 15 games we tried to play a bit differently. Built up, put more players in front, put more players between the lines. Of these 15 we won only two.”
Will Everton regret not making European competition after sitting in the top half of the table for most of the season?
“To judge the season we can do a better analysis next week. If I had to analyse today then the only regret will be we lost a lot of opportunities. If we cannot get to Europe that will be a regret.”
With his long track record of success, Ancelotti was asked how he wasn’t able to motivate the players to be better at home.
“I am not a magician, only a trainer. It is really difficult for me to explain this double-face of the team. The team were really good away, and if we could do the same at home we could win the title.”
Does Everton need a massive clearout of players and infusion of talent over the summer?
“It’s true we didn’t play so well in this period. Of course we have to improve the quality of the team in this sense for the next season, this is for sure. You can play football in different ways, you can get a result not only with quality.
“It’s true I’ve won a lot of trophies but I don’t know how many of those I won with just quality instead of the spirit, the attitude, the sacrifice, the concentration, the personality. It’s not only the quality, but I agree the quality has to improve next season.
“We don’t need to do a revolution. We have to follow our plan. It was a good plan last season, we signed good players and we need to do the same this season. Following our plan.
“Absolutely no revolution. To improve the squad we don’t need a revolution.”
Ancelotti closed out with a couple of transfer updates, firstly on on-loan striker Moise Kean who is at Paris St Germain.
“I think that we have to talk about his situation. His loan finishes on June 30th, and if there is no request from Paris he will be back [here].”
When asked directly if the wide position is one area that Everton will be looking at improving this summer, Ancelotti was succinct.
“It is one of the positions we will be looking for, yes, that is true.”