It isn’t hyperbole to describe Carlo Ancelotti as the most high-profile managerial appointment in Everton history. The Italian coach has more or less done it all in club management across spells in top European leagues including England, Germany and Spain.
Famed for his markedly raised eyebrow, it was Toffees supporters showing such signs of disbelief when Ancelotti came to Goodison Park towards the end of 2019. A mid-table finish followed, so now – with most of his first full season in charge on Merseyside under his belt – what constitutes success?
Everton majority owner Farhad Moshiri backed Ancelotti last summer and signed off on a midfield revolution. In came 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, plusthe less lauded Abdoulaye Doucore from Watford and Brazil anchorman Allan, who played under the manager at Napoli.
The Toffees have hit patches of form, winning three Premier League games in a row on three different occasions in the season to date. For what it’s worth, they have also had as many instances of consecutive defeats. Consistently inconsistent, then, but capable of pulling off a result.
Ancelotti has already endeared himself to Everton fans thanks to a rare win across Stanley Park at Anfield. They won’t besuch near neighbours to Liverpool for much longer, however, as a government review approved the proposal to build a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock on the city’s famous waterfront.
Long-term success might be making the Toffees into European regulars like they were in the David Moyes era if and when they move from Goodison. That is looking like 2024 at the earliest, so there’s plenty to ponder in the meantime.
Even with his supreme coaching pedigree, it is hard to see Ancelotti transforming Everton into the most successful club in England as their trophy haul lags behind other top sides in the Northwest. This is a grand old team as the saying goes, but there remain areas for improvement.
Plenty was done to transform midfield, but clean sheets remain something of a novelty for the defence. If the Toffees are to make themselves stick at the top end of the Premier League and regularly qualify for Europe, then this must be addressed.
Nothing to see here, just Ben Godfrey doing the Carlo Ancelotti eyebrow🏴🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/rMwUWO7SfT
— Sam🥶 (@EFC_Sammm) March 22, 2021
Extended runs of ten and eight games without shutting out the opposition explain why Everton have the worse defensive record in the current top half. Summer signing Ben Godfrey, fresh from being relegated with Norwich City, has filled in a variety of roles across the back, impressing while chopping and changing position.
The answer may lie in Ancelotti going back to Napoli for Kalidou Koulibaly, the highly-rated Senegal centre half previously linked with Liverpool and Manchester United. Whether he will be able to pull-off a cut price deal for a player held in such regard by their current club remains to be seen.
A greater physical and powerful presence would certainly help the Toffees in their aim of a top six finish. In the short-term at least, Ancelotti’s project looks sure to make progress on last season.