Quite often there is a time when a manager will make his mark. Iconic moments which are remembered through time. Kevin Keegan has his ‘I’d love it if we beat them’ interview while Jose Mourinho’s had many but running down the Old Trafford pitch to celebrate with his Porto players sticks in the memory.
Although Carlo Ancelotti has not been in the Goodison hotseat long he has already made his presence felt; none more so than when he confronted referee Chris Kavanagh following the controversial draw with Manchester United – quite refreshing for an Everton manager.
Carlo, sporting his Italian mafia style overcoat, stormed the pitch. Cool and calm he strode over the officials to confront them for a scandalous decision costing the blues two points. Directing his words towards the linesman when Kavanagh decided to step in and produce a red card; the same referee who feels it is acceptable to allow a manager to celebrate on the pitch with no consequences, however.
While Goodison was raging – foaming at the mouth like a rabid Rottweiler demanding blood at the injustice, Carlo acted unlike so many that have gone before him. Moyes liked to let off steam but he was more of a touchline frowner and preferred to make suggestive comment in post-match interviews, Bobby brown shoes was too nice to ruffle the feathers of the a referee, Ronald Koeman was too full of himself to be concerned and the recently departed Marco Silva always looked too sullen while carrying many problems of the word on his shoulders to be arguing with referees.
The Toffees nickname is apt we have been too soft centred for long enough. Teams are reflective of their manager; they’re moulded onto the pitch from the training ground. Determined and gritty under Moyes, too nice under Martinez, shambolic under Koeman and mostly introvert and dour under Silva.
Only time will tell how we are moulded under Ancelotti; he has never been demonstrative figure on the touchline, far from it, but he appears methodical and intense. In his autobiography ‘Quiet Leadership’ he explains in the preface “My approach is born of the idea that a leader should not need to rant or rave or rule with an iron fist, but rather that their power should be implicit. It should be crystal clear who is in charge, and their authority must result from respect and trust rather than fear. I believe that I have earned the respect I am shown, partly through a successful career delivering trophies for my clubs, but perhaps more importantly because of the fact that I respect those who I work with. These people trust me to do the right thing, just as I trust them with their role in the organisation.”
It still doesn’t quite seem real that a man with Ancelotti’s CV roams the technical area at Goodison as Everton manager. This hit home even more so recently, while watching Sky Sports’ documentary ‘Ronaldo’ which follows the Portuguese superstar on his day to day life. In the early part of the programme Ronaldo is in the car when he turns on the radio greeted by the Spanish host who says “The Champions League final is almost here, and Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid are searching for a new title. For the whites, it could be La Decima” this may have been 2014 and six years have gone in between but this is still a man who has won the Champions League three times, multiple league trophies and several domestic cup competitions at some of Europe biggest clubs. The man commands respect throughout the game – the quality of player that we can attract is on different level than ever before.
After Silva’s inevitable sacking the press quickly dug out the names of the most likely candidates – Moyes and Mark Hughes. The best they could come up with, really? Granted, we found ourselves in a terrible position yet again, plummeting backwards after further heavy investment by Moshiri. The press then showed their fickle best when Ancelotti was first mentioned, although he had just been sacked by Napoli, the idea was laughed aside. It couldn’t happen, our level was Moyes or Hughes they said. They mocked the idea. Patronised the club. Then all of a sudden the story grew and there was a bit more substance than just links – it actually seemed possible – so the weight of the press shifted and all of a sudden Ancelotti was past it; One of only two men two win the Champions League three times in his managerial career was all of a sudden not up to the job anymore. Laughable.
Once appointed, inevitably, expectations lift. Not for the first time though as we have been here many times before. You tell yourself it’s another false dawn and you won’t be drawn to the hype but then he signs and you find yourself stocking the fridge with Peroni and Moretti and randomly bursting into song ‘Carlo fantastico Carlo magnifico.’
Results have understandably been mixed. We’ve had the good days – away at Newcastle was a really promising win, a gutsy performance as Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin’s flourishing partnership continued to grow and the last gasp winner at Watford. Inevitably we have had the bad days, notably, away at Anfield – again. Played well but ultimately the same old story away to Arsenal and, our last game before the pandemic brought the season to a premature halt losing 4-0 at Chelsea. We have been better at home and we need Goodison to become a fortress again. You must lay the foundations home and then build. The old adage ‘win your home games and take what you can away’ is one of those classic footballing clichés but it maintains its relevance.
At the top of Carlo’s to-do list must be win a trophy and vastly improve our away form – especially at the media mythical big six. We recently endured the torment of our 25-year anniversary since the last trophy, years of mismanagement top to bottom has cost this club but the past has gone; we cannot erase that but what we must do is have a brighter future. We have had our flirtations with the odd piece of silverware – the 2009 FA Cup final the one that sticks in the throat but no more so than the injury time loss to Man United in the 2016 semi-final. That is as close as we have been. We are beyond hungry; we are through the starvation period – we are emaciated. This club has a generation of fans who are mid 20s and never felt the euphoria of a trophy presentation around the City. We turn to you Carlo; time to change our horribly embarrassing record.
The day Ancelotti was appointed Sky Sports’ rotational news reel kicked in, repeatedly showing one particular clip from his days at Chelsea when they won the Premier League in 2010. During the celebrations at Stamford Bridge – Carlo has hold of one handle and Malouda the other and together they run down the touchline – one day, maybe, one day Mr Ancelotti will make that run with Richarlison or Calvert-Lewin and he will once again be carrying the Premier League trophy.