Everton take on champions Manchester City needing a better result than Tottenham Hotspur ahead of them and Arsenal behind them to seal 7th spot in the Premier League, and a berth in the newly-formed Europa Conference League next season. It’s not going to be a simple task on paper, and definitely not as easy on the pitch on Sunday either.
Speaking ahead of the game during his pre-match press conference, manager Carlo Ancelotti wryly commented that his prediction had come true that it would all come down to the last game of the season.
“What I said a long time ago, it happened. I said we wanted to fight until the last minute of the last game for Europe and we are there to fight with all our motivation and all our energy.
“We know that it will be maybe the most difficult game against the champions, but we are confident because we’ve done really well away, and have had fantastic results against strong teams away.
“The motivation is really high, the pressure also, but this is absolutely normal. Maybe this is the most important game of the season. Mentally and physically we are ready.”
When asked how much of that confidence has come from the incredible away record of 11 wins in 18 away games, Ancelotti talked about the positives and negatives for him this season.
“We are not a quality team, but we are a strong team with a strong attitude and are solid defensively.
“We were able to show this more away than at home and that is the reason for the results.
“I’m really pleased that we were more competitive compared to last season. More competitive against the strong teams, we won the derby, we won a lot of difficult games away, these were the best parts of this season.
“The worst part of course was the home run was not good enough.”
Would he consider the season a failure if the Blues don’t get to Europe, and what were his thoughts on the new competition?
“If we are able to play in Europe it will be a step forward quicker than normal. If we are not, then I think the team improved and we have to prepare for the next season with a better squad to be more competitive than we were this season.
“It doesn’t change a lot, but for the club to play in Europe will be better, for sure. It’s a different competition, it’s new. It’s not the most exciting competition in Europe, we know, but to participate could be good for us and for the future of the club.”
Clearly Everton need to improve their squad, what were his thoughts on who he needed to add over the summer?
“The plan is quite clear. We have time to talk in the next few weeks on how to improve the squad. The plan is clear and also the profile of player that we need is clear for everyone, so we have to work on it. We have to put more quality in the squad and play more attractive football.
“The profile is to find a winger that is able to score goals, is able to defend, that is able to sacrifice, that is able to put in crosses. This kind of player is not easy to find!
“But if you look at the market and the players around the world, there are really a lot of good players around the world.”