By Dave Downie
Carlo Ancelotti’s eventual arrival at Everton was one of the year’s worst kept secrets, yet the sight of the imposing Italian making his way around Goodison Park on Saturday and then latterly roaming the streets of Liverpool city centre posing for pictures with fans still feels like a dream sequence from an alternate universe.
The reality tastes much sweeter for Evertonians of course, who’ve pined for a name of Ancelotti’s stature to turn what’s become at best a mess and at worst an abject failure, in finding a formula that works in the time since Farhad Moshiri’s investment more than 3 and half years ago.
The sceptics, inevitably, have been lining up in their droves to pour scorn on the reasons why a three-time Champions League winning manager with a CV reading like a who’s who of European footballing elite is opting to take on a club occupying 15th place in the Premier League, just four points above the relegation zone.
The criticism would be valid if Ancelotti wasn’t signing up to a project that will undoubtedly provide him with the financial resources to make Everton a success. In fairness, it’s often lost in translation these days due to some of the catastrophic recruitment, leadership and results of recent years, that this a club brimming with potential, which should be a real selling point to any manager. The fact this isn’t a prominent thought of so many is lazy and disingenuous on their part.
Nobody is under any illusions; Everton’s season is nowhere near where it should or needs to be and several key parts of the squad simply aren’t fit for purpose. To expect a manager of even Ancelotti’s calibre to turn this around inside half a season even exceeds the level of wishful thinking that brought about his appointment.
“Nothing is impossible in football” – Carlo ancelotti
But it seems after a painstaking struggle mixed with endless false dawns, the club has now finally put together a strategy that should see much better days ahead; they literally could not have done or hoped for anything better than what they now have.
For Farhad Moshiri, this is the watershed acquisition, player or manager, that he’s longed for since he arrived on Merseyside. It’s clear to see the aim of his legacy at Everton is to deliver a new stadium whilst also assembling a team that can compete. For everything that’s been and gone in his time at the club, one thing Moshiri can’t be criticised for is backing his managers.
Admittedly, the finances the Iranian has ploughed into recruitment have been grand in scale but dumbfounding in their application. Nonetheless, he’s remained committed to providing the incumbent of the day with sufficient resources to make a success of the job – that cannot be argued.
The implications of Ancelotti’s arrival indicate he once again won’t be shy in supplementing the squad, only this time, the owner finally has a manager who exceeds the levels of trust and confidence of the previous four failures combined.
Another criticism that seems to be common place for those partial to steaming hot takes on this has been to question Ancelotti’s aptitude for taking on a role with so many challenges. Many would say he’s not used to managing a club with Everton’s problems, or he’s never improved a team that’s been, in relative terms, in as compromising a situation as the Blues find themselves in right now.
However, that appears to be a criticism of Ancelotti for the simple reason of being successful. Why wouldn’t the best teams in the world seek to employ him given the previous work he’s done and why would he therefore not take those jobs? Again, it’s such a lazy notion to suggest because he’s only ever dealt with successful teams and players, then he couldn’t hope to do a job with a less successful side at the time of his appointment.
The reception to the new Everton manager feels very much as though it’s a threat to the status quo and the traditional hierarchy in the Premier League which large parts of the media seem to cherish just as much as the clubs do themselves. Hopefully for long-suffering Evertonians, those concerns come to fruition and play out as they now can given Ancelotti’s pedigree. But a lack of objectivity in matters such as this has become a common theme amongst clubs outside the conventions of the “top six” and for a long time the rejection out of hand from the occupants of Fleet Street and beyond for any other club to have success, has grown increasingly tiresome. How dare anyone else show such ambition?
For Everton though, the same clichés still apply regarding patience, but this is an unprecedented situation because the club has never acquired an elite manager in their history, having only ever built their own from the ground up. It’s an adventure that should be embraced and not viewed as cynically or as scathingly as it has been by those looking from afar.