“Difficult to park, but full of Evertonians.” Carlo Ancelotti got a read on Bootle Strand pretty quickly, didn’t he? It’s a line indicative of one of the most encouraging aspects of his tenure so far—he has been keen to thrust himself fully into Liverpool life.
In addition to the Strand, he has already braved the swirling sands on Crosby beach and charmingly counted the iron men. He’s already picked out his favourite Italian restaurant. He seems to be having a terrific time here. Given he has worked in some of the most illustrious and scenic places on the planet, that’s encouraging.
Think he can turn Everton around? You can see the great offers on upcoming games with a Ladbrokes sign up offer 2020, with the Toffees still clinging on to European hopes.
Perhaps that’s unsurprising for someone who is as well travelled as Ancelotti. But there’s a blossoming understanding of Liverpool, as well as an early appreciation of the psyche of its people, particularly those who flock to watch his new team.
Away from the pitch, he wants the full Liverpool experience and is getting it.
On it, he’s got an undiluted Everton experience.
When it comes to fixing the Toffees, there are so many factors to consider. The weight of history, the success of our neighbours, the entrenched mindsets within all of a blue persuasion to name a few. Dozens of dissertations could be scrawled on why Everton are where they are at this moment in time.
But as Chelsea ran riot against the Toffees on Sunday, it felt like a concluding chapter in a short story of Everton-ism. “Everton That, Condensed,” perhaps?
The tale has spanned Ancelotti’s tenure so far.
There has been an upturn in form and a couple of raucous Goodison days. There has been an embarrassing derby loss. There has been incomprehensible late drama go against the team. There have been ridiculous refereeing controversies. There have been customary collapses away at top-six sides. There’s been talk of a European push. That’s now faded. Everton still haven’t had a penalty.
And yeah, the Reds on Monday too. I know.
If it was possible to put together a concise footballing summation of those issues that blight the club in the space of two-and-a-half months, then it’s not far off perfect.
“You want to know everything do you Carlo? You want to see all the skeletons? Well, here they are…”
A man of his calibre would have no doubt been aware of some of these issues before taking the job. Research would have been done.
Yet there’s nothing quite like feeling these royal blue stigmas manifest in full form in front of you. Some of Ancelotti’s reactions to poor segments of play have at least made for some gallows humour in difficult moments.
Of course, Ancelotti has played his part in some of these tropes coming to the fore. On Sunday, he was arguably as culpable as he has been so far in his short tenure, with Everton’s midfield disintegrating against a makeshift Chelsea trio. Team selections and substitutions have occasionally raised eyebrows too.
Yet this still a manager learning about his players, as footballers and fellas. And in some cases, most notably the depleted midfield resources, you can cook with the ingredients in the cupboard.
Obviously, there are aspects of the team Ancelotti can’t change until the summer. It means that more pain may be on the way in the short-term; in addition to the derby, Everton still have trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United to come before the season’s end.
Blues can still take heart from the Italian’s start. Between occasional bleak pages of the new manager’s own Everton short story, Ancelotti has been able to get the team functioning and results have been largely positive.
Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin continue to grow, giving the team two of the best young forwards in the country, while Mason Holgate has been a linchpin in a revolving defence. All three have signed up for the long-term too; they can be components of a competitive outfit.
There is a ton to resolve outside of that trio. Not only in terms of recruiting fresh personnel—which will be frustratingly hindered by Financial Fair Play regulations and a bloated wage bill—but the intangibles too. Shifting mindsets will be as challenging as shifting some unwanted players.
The hope is that if anyone can lead Everton through what will be an arduous process, it’s one of the most decorated managers of all time. Having seen and felt the football club during his spell, warts and all, it feels like those steps can start to be taken in the remaining weeks of the season.
They’ll be tentative. They’ll be tough. But perhaps Ancelotti, with the help of those on his staff and higher up at the football club, can look at what we consider to be terminal problems and take them in his stride.
It can’t be any harder than finding a spot to park at Bootle Strand, can it?
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