The ongoing edition of the Premier League has been wild, hasn’t it?
An absence of supporters has paved the way for a dereliction of defending and a flood of attacking football. And even with a pandemic still present across the world, teams in the top flight in England have parted with an estimated £1.24 billion on 107 permanent signings this summer.
Alright for some eh?
Results have been jaw-dropping too.
Wolves conceded four against West Ham United.
Manchester City conceded five against Leicester.
Manchester United conceded six against Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool conceded seven against Aston Villa.
And Liverpool conceded seven against Aston Villa.
Everton, the Premier League leaders—just nice to say, isn’t it?—somehow have James Rodriguez. But as we survey this anarchic competition, perhaps more crucially they have Carlo Ancelotti too.
After the Toffees smashed Brighton & Hove Albion 4-2 to make it seven wins from seven in 2020-21, a journalist asked the Everton manager whether he was surprised by the manner in which Rodriguez—who already has three goals and three assists to his name in royal blue—has been able to flourish so quickly.
“A player with quality doesn’t have a problem to adapt,” shrugged Ancelotti. “The quality is there. Football is not so complicated, the pitch is always the same, the opponents always have 11 players, the ball is the same and the goal doesn’t move. Football is simple.”
Football is simple. It’s not so complicated, everybody. It’s almost enlightening.
For a long time, it hasn’t felt that way for Everton.
In reality, at the moment football shouldn’t be simple given the challenging circumstances clubs and players have to cope with. They are being frequently tested, have various painstaking protocols to follow and many will be anxious away from their families while the virus remains a real threat.
It’s not a great situation for the game and such significant alterations to the Premier League were always likely to yield to major changes in the way matches are prepared for and played.
Although the circumstances are undesirable, Ancelotti feels like a man who will come into his own in them and Everton’s high-class performances indicate he’s doing just that.
When Everton appointed Ancelotti they knew they were not necessarily getting a philosophy-centric coach who was exclusive to a system and a way of playing. They were getting someone who had huge experience, tactical nous, adaptability and star quality, as well as the ability to attract star quality.
They were also getting a leader. A quiet leader. Someone who through that leadership would help elite footballers—and Everton look to have a few of them all of a sudden, don’t they?—walk a little taller, play a little better and feel comfortable in their surroundings.
While he hasn’t had to deal with a pandemic running concurrent with a football season previously, Ancelotti has seen pretty much everything else the sport has to offer. Perhaps it’s therefore unsurprising that already he’s shown at Everton he can be an anchor to perspective and an embodiment of assurance regardless of the scenario. In times of such uncertainty away from the field and with chaos seemingly ruling on it, that pacifying presence feels like it will count for a lot over the coming months.
It’d be fair to say the ability to take stock and take a deep breath is something Everton have lacked in recent years too. Ancelotti, who has become a reference point for supporters already due to the team he’s built and the personality he’s put across, feels like he can be a catalyst for all tied to the club being a little calmer.
We’ll need to be calm too, as much as we’re all riding high at the moment. Because as unlikely as it might seem at this stage, Everton will (probably) lose a football match soon and potentially lose one heavily. Crazy scorelines look as though they’ll be par fo the course this term for all teams.
When the Toffees do slip up, it’s comforting to know Ancelotti will be there and that he’ll know what the required next steps are.
After all, football isn’t that complicated, is it?