When Carlo Ancelotti - multiple times Champions League winner and winner of all ‘major’ top leagues in Europe - became the manager of Everton, possibly the most notorious mid-table side in the league, I , for one, was shocked.
Presumably tasked with dragging a fairly stagnant team into becoming recognised as the ‘best of the rest’ or even breaking into the top six or expanding it, is Ancelotti really the man to be able to do this?
His league form for the Toffees has been promising taking only three losses to Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, drawing three and winning the rest. Compared to Marco Silva’s time earlier in the season, it’s a drastic improvement.
However, when he was winning the Champions League and Premier League title with Chelsea, his squad was far better, and he had much greater resources to draw upon to improve his team. While Everton are by no means a financially poor team, they can’t compete with Abramovich’s deep pockets.
It can also be said that the team that Ancelotti has inherited is a fair bit worse than what he was given at Chelsea. Yes, the players are decent, but that’s relative to their aims. A case in point is Calvert-Lewin. A great player for Everton, and a striker they’ll be able to rely on, but he wouldn’t get near any other team (maybe apart from Chelsea, and even then, that’s at a push) they need to be competing with.
Speaking of Calvert-Lewin, it has become incredibly clear how important Ancelotti finds him to the Everton setup. Having been at Toffees’ setup for four years now, he’s had his breakthrough year this season. Thirteen goals in twenty-seven league games is no mean feat for a striker who has been a peripheral figure until this season.
With the proper recruitment levels and investment levels to pick up players in positions they need to improve on (looking at the defence and the goalkeeping spots here) they could begin to have a sniff at continental football.
As it stands, the Everton attack is actually quite good. I’ve always been a fan of the Brazilian Bernard since his days in Ukraine with Shakhtar and picking Richarlison up from Watford was an inspired piece of business. Sigurdsson sitting behind Calvert-Lewin completes an attack that can compete.
However, behind that, the issues start to rise. Gomes was a very good signing from Barcelona, but having spent most of the season injured, there’s been no-one else to rely on in the centre of midfield. Losing Gueye was a massive blow, and a lack of depth in that position has really harmed the side.
When it comes to the defence, it’s quite frankly a mess. Aside from Digne, arguably one of the best full-backs in the league, there’s not really anyone else of real quality. Yes, Keane and Mina alright, but they’re not players that can really stabilise challenge to the Europa League at least. A combination of Holgate and Coleman at right-back is hardly good enough either, and when it comes to Pickford in goal, his Sunderland form has vanished, replaced by a shell of that player.
However, back to Ancelotti. To sum it up, his time at Everton has been very promising, and if this season was under normal conditions, I think that they’d 100% be getting closer to breaking into the barrier to European football.
Ancelotti will still need a couple of transfer windows to bring in players to suit his own playstyle and vision, but the building blocks he’s been supplied with are a fantastic start on which to build.
However, he may find that some of the current squad want to use the club as a stepping stone, Richarlison in particular. I feel as if Ancelotti’s reign will be decided as to whether or not he can convince Richarlison to either see out his contract or sign up to a new one and be the player that the team is built around, because that’s what Ancelotti and Everton need to be doing.
Overall, in my opinion, if Ancelotti is given the funds and the time by the Everton board, he will be a success. His track record speaks for itself, and while it was a surprise he went to Everton, it’ll be because he’s got a vision for the Merseyside club.
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk