When Carlo Ancelotti came to Everton in December, the club was not exactly in crisis mode. Duncan Ferguson had stabilised the ship, picking up wins over Chelsea and holding Manchester United and Arsenal. Ancelotti was to take over an underperforming side and take them closer to where they should be. As a result, leading online bookie www.wetttippsheute have shortened the odds on Everton finishing in the top eight to just 6/1.
Since then, things have turned a corner for the Toffees. Since Don Carlo took over, the club has lost only one Premier League game and that too came away to the Champions Manchester City. While the loss to a young Liverpool side in the FA Cup was a very drab one, but the club was unlikely to go far in the competition anyway.
Under Marco Silva, Everton were a broken side. The inability to replace key players in the past had lingered on. There was no system to them and they had no tactical identity either. Injuries to Andre Gomes and summer signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin hadn’t been a help. But the club’s inability to sign a player who could get them 15-20 goals a season and their failure to replace Kurt Zouma had left them weak in both parts of the pitch.
Ferguson got the side to play a pragmatic 4-4-2 shape. He used that against Chelsea, Arsenal and United- laying down the foundation for Ancelotti. And the Italian sure has taken that forward.
Strangely enough, he has done that with the same formation that he was criticised for over-using at Napoli. He’s done that with lesser able players and without two of the most influential players Everton have had in recent years- Gomes and Idrissa Gueye.
Ancelotti has had to rotate with four different options- Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fabian Delph, Tom Davies and Morgan Schneiderlin. They’ve had different combinations in there, with Sigurdsson and Delph becoming a rather popular one.
One crucial aspect of Ancelotti’s Napoli was their flexibility. In Champions League games, they would often switch from a four-man defence to a three-man defence. This required versatile players. Jose Callejon and Nikola Maksimovic often did those versatile jobs. At Everton, Ancelotti has found those roles for Djibril Sidibe and Mason Holgate.
The former Monaco man has played either as a right-back or as a right midfielder. Against Man City, he was the right wing-back in the 3-5-2 shape. As for Holgate, he’s shown the capability to play on either side of the defence- like Maksimovic used to.
Ancelotti has already got rid of the club’s goalscoring problems. Cenk Tosun has been loaned out, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin becoming a reliable goalscorer. He’s scored four goals under Carlo, scoring 12 times in all competitions to play his best season in front of goal.
Because of the consistency in formation, Richarlison has found a regular role. The Brazilian never knew where his real position was ever since he came to the club. But Ancelotti has made him a second-striker alongside Calvert-Lewin. He’s got two goals and one assist in five games under Ancelotti.
Yerry Mina, who has been playing very well this season, has kept going. Michael Keane, who took criticism for poor showings, has been benched on four occasions.
All that is a very positive outlook of things at the club. It is in stark contrast to how things were under Silva not just this season, but for a good period of time last season too. Ancelotti has given Everton an identity that can make them tough to beat on their day.
He’s got the club’s best players to fire and has shown no hesitation in keeping the struggling ones away. He’s done all that despite not having signed a major player in the January transfer window. With Gomes coming back and a promising summer window beckoning, he could take the club higher than the ninth position.