Question Time

Martin O'Connor 15/03/2021 84comments  |  Jump to last
As we move into the final quarter of the season, Carlo Ancelotti has been in charge for 14½ months. So where are we under the leadership of Carlo “Magnifico”?

The benefit of Ancelotti getting to know the squad he had inherited is a valid point to make for the first half-season he had in charge after taking over from the sacked Marco Silva. Come the Summer, and in came Nkonkou (for the future), Rodriguez, Allan, Doucouré and, just before the end of the transfer window, Ben Godfrey.

The Blues started this season with four straight league wins, but it soon became apparent the way the team were playing was unsustainable: too many goals being conceded. As the season progressed, we moved to a more defensive mindset, while keeping up a challenge for Europe, and – in some Blues' minds – top 4!!! But have we really progressed in the 14½ months since Carlo joined the club?

In reality, some of the football we have been playing has been a bit on the turgid side. I will take boring 1-0 wins at Sheffield United and West Brom any day. But can we keep such performances up? Not against the better teams as the recent games against Man Utd (we were incredibly lucky to get a draw), Man City and Chelsea show, 8 goals conceded.

When you look at the statistics, Everton are one of the most clinical teams in scoring goals from the chances they make, but are nowhere near the top for chances made in a game. This is a high-risk strategy as, if you don’t score, or your clinical finishing from the few chances you make is off-kilter, then in all probability, you will lose the game.

You don’t need to go into the statistics to see this; just look at the Premier League table. At the time of writing, we have a goal difference of +3. Of the top 10 teams in the Premier League, only one other team has a goal difference which is not above 10 and that’s Arsenal with 8. If we don’t make more chances and score more goals in games, then our current tactics will soon catch up with us.

But Carlo has any number of supporters, both in the Everton fanbase and the media, so let’s look at some of cases they make for the defence... Role the arguments.

1. We are (at the time of writing) in 6th place and on course for Europe.

Yes, (at the time of writing) we are 6th in the Premier League but, in such a topsy turvy season, is this a true reflection of where we are as a team? Arsenal in 10th position are only 5 points behind us and will, in my opinion, finish the season above us, as will the shower from across the park. In such a strange season due to Covid-19 and the lack of supporters, we are in reality performing no better than the other mediocre higher mid-table teams.

2. Look at how our away record has improved.

We have secured 9 away wins at the time of writing, including wins at Tottenham and Liverpool. Compared to our usual woeful away record, this really is “Magnifico”. But, when you take in the lack of supporters, all of a sudden, it does not look as good, as our disgraceful home record this season makes apparent. Without our fervent home support, we can’t perform at Goodison, while away from home, with no home supporters to put us under pressure, and (as is often the case} make us buckle, we are doing better than we have for years.

If supporters were in the grounds, you could flip these home and away records on their heads. There is no mentality shift here; we've got to wait till next season, when hopefully we will all be back in the grounds, to judge our away form, and I won’t hold my breath.

3. This is not Carlo’s team

I agree, this is not Carlo’s team yet, but let’s not pretend that he is just working with the crop of shit from previous seasons. Did we not bring in, as noted above, Godfrey, Doucouré and Carlo’s buddies Allan and Rodriguez?

Just maybe before the cry of greatness for Allan and divinity for Rodriguez is made, people should have looked more deeply into their playing careers – especially their injury records. We will never get more than half a season from either, and even less game-changing performances from Rodriguez.

I will be eternally grateful for his pass to Richarlison for the win at Anfield but, for every good game, we also get the "Is he even playing?" performances, such as at Southampton. He may have come for nothing, but don’t think he is playing for nothing. Coming up to 30, has the Rodriguez experiment worked? Not in my eyes.

Allan is a good shield for the defence in midfield, a bit like Gana, only difference being Gana actually stayed fit. The other two, Doucouré and especially Godfrey, have been successes, but would either have been priorities for Ancelotti?

I would guess not. Both are Brands signings for me, Godfrey definitely, while Doucouré was on our radar ever since Brands and Silva came to the Club. Yes, it will be after the Summer transfer window when we will see Carlo’s team but, in my opinion, more players like James Rodriguez are not the answer.

4. We have a world-class manager.

The great stick to beat the few Carlo critics with. As I have said on a number of occasions, Carlo was a world-class manager. But the game moves on, other managers come to the fore, while others whose time has been and gone, go into decline. This is where Carlo is in his managerial career.

He failed at Bayern and Napoli, his last two jobs, before he answered Moshiri’s call. If he is a world-class manager, as many claim, I would think after 14½ months we would be seeing better performances than the ones we are watching.

So finally, question time:

● Is Carlo doing a good job? – Not even as good a job as Moyes, it would seem.

● Are we getting good performances on the pitch? – Very questionable.

● Can the tactics we are employing see us through to a European place? – Not in my eyes.

● Have we progressed in the 14½ months since Carlo came to the club? – Slightly at best.

● With such a world-class manager, should we have seen more progression by now? – We certainly should.

I have been a critic of the Ancelotti appointment from the start and see no progression since his appointment.

So, my final question is: Should Carlo be getting more criticism?

For me, definitely, but most Blues seem too enamoured with his past achievements and his genuine likeability to see the absolutely average job he is actually doing.

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Alun Jones
1 Posted 16/03/2021 at 01:48:05
Interesting article and I think some good points made.

Having been an Everton fan for more years than I care to remember, I do feel now more optimistic than I have felt in many a long year. I honestly feel we now have a manager who knows how to win things; we might not be so pretty to watch at the moment but we have certainly been effective in key matches and situations.

Obviously our home form and our inability to take the game to certain teams at home has been our weakness this season but I am willing to give Carlo some time to sort this out as we are still pretty early in his tenure. We still lack mental strength in the team overall, I think, and that will take time to address.

We also lack mobility and energy in the middle of the park once you take Doucouré out of the team; this I am expecting him to address in the close season.

I still think we are in with a shout for a Europa League spot this season despite some of the shortcomings of the team. I am not saying we will definitely achieve this but I do think we can be in the mix until the season end as we have as good a chance as some of the teams in that upper-middle tier.

As for criticism of Carlo, yes, I do think his avuncular style has endeared him to the supporters and there is also that desperate desire for him to succeed... so I think he will get a longer honeymoon period than most. However, next season, assuming some normality returns, I think he will need to show some progression and I don't believe he will be immune to criticism and pressure if we don't show that expected improvement.

Kieran Kinsella
2 Posted 16/03/2021 at 02:38:05

On the signings front, under Silva, both he and Brands said that signings were agreed by both. If that remains the case, then presumably Carlo consented to Godfrey and Brands to Rodriguez. If that's not the case, then maybe Brands is entirely responsible, as most Directors of Football are, in which case, you can't blame Carlo.

The last option is, as you imply, that we have different individuals with different agendas separately signing who they want – as seemed to be the case under Walsh. If that is still the dysfunctional status quo, then it falls on Moshiri or Kenwright. But, no matter how you slice and dice it, you can't selectively blame Carlo for what you view as bad signings.

As for the outcome, you're saying he's done worse than Moyes (at West Ham Utd presumably, based on current placing) but also presume he will do worse than Arteta at Arsenal, based on your mystic Meg future predictions. So you're mixing fact and future fantasies to explain how he's failing.

On that basis, I could say, based on current form, he's better than Jose, Arteta and, based on my future fantasy, he will be better than Pep. But to do so would be meaningless unless I had an axe to grind and was looking for any way in which to express that.

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 16/03/2021 at 03:45:56
A case that has to be built partly on crapola isn't much of a case, Martin.

First, just a quick jaunt back into your erroneous historical references... no, Ancelotti didn't "fail" at Napoli... he ran afoul of an egomaniac owner who imposed his own "boot camp" strictures on the players without consulting Carlo and turned him loose when Carlo declined to endorse them. And your reference to Allan's alleged injury record is malarkey -- he missed 16 games in four seasons at Napoli, which isn't bad at all. (BTW, Gana has missed 13 games in two seasons at PSG.)

Second, we are "seeing better performances"... or maybe you missed the derby and 5-4 over Spurs and a world-class comeback at Old Trafford that was definitely not luck but pure ferocity. The problem is that we're not seeing these good performances consistently enough – yet – but we are sure as hell seeing some tantalizing glimpses of what our future will be... if this manager stays.

You want to believe we should be playing better after 14½ months, you're welcome to it. Personally, having picked us for 8th this season and seeing a starting lineup that still requires massive improvement in 7 of 11 positions, I'm seeing exactly what I expected at this point under Carlo. And if the upcoming summer window goes as I think it will, this time next year, a lot of skeptics will be eating a lot of crow.

Jay Harris
4 Posted 16/03/2021 at 04:22:59

I don't know whether this is a wind-up or you spent a spell in Rainhill Mental Hospital but you blindly ignore or distort the facts.

In addition to what Mike G has pointed out, may I remind you that we had the best start to a season in over 50 years. Now granted, that was when Carlo had a full squad, including his signings to choose from... but that – due to serious injuries, the likes of which the Liverpool have been making excuses with all season, we have fallen off the pace a little but still manage to be above Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Carlo's win ratio of over 50% is in line with Howard Kendall Mk 1 and better than every other manager in recent history – despite competing with some of the most expensively assembled squads in the history of the top league.

If you spent your time getting behind the manager and the club instead of sniping when we have a bad result, I am sure you would be much happier. It amazes me how these extreme views come out after each result, whether bad or good.

No-one cares whether you wanted Ancelotti or not – the man who owns the club and is pouring millions of his own money in to make us more competitive has decided that he is the man – and I for one am over the moon we have a manager of his pedigree.

Ajay Gopal
5 Posted 16/03/2021 at 06:13:42
In addition to the above comments, what I like about Carlo is that there is no bullshitting or giving excuses. When asked about injuries to his key players, he shrugs his shoulders and says, "We will manage".

He never criticises referees – even when explicitly asked in a press conference if he thought that Richarlison needs to get more protection from the referees – (one eyebrow raised): "I don't think so".

He gets on with his job, he participates in every training session. He has improved many players in the squad – Holgate (last season), Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Keane, Pickford (tentatively). The players respect him and are eager to get his approval.

He cannot work miracles with the squad that he inherited and also Moshiri's funds are still much smaller than what the big boys are able to spend (Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs).

Give him at least 1 more year and then let us see where we stand. We are 2-3 players away from being a good footballing side and at least 5-6 very good players away from challenging at the top end of the table.

Derek Thomas
6 Posted 16/03/2021 at 07:36:23
Where are we? Better off than we were for the last 4 years – is my answer.

Where are we going? When, if ever, will we get there? ... and how long will it take? The next 2 seasons will tell us.

Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 16/03/2021 at 07:39:32

My only criticism of Carlo is his occasional baffling set-ups (the diamond vs Burnley for example). Add to this his substitutions which are equally confusing.

In fairness though, he is running the ruler over this squad, and he is trying to find out which players are worth keeping. I think any of us would struggle to get the right blend once we have an injury or two.

Like Mike, I was expecting to be about 8th at the end, so anything above that is okay. True, we have ridden our luck at times, but hasn't every team?

The main problem is creativity. We don't score enough goals and Dominic doesn't get enough ammo. But, without James and, if Sigurdsson is unfit or played in an unfamiliar role, then it only leaves the ball over the top from Keane, Pickford, or Digne from the left. Holgate can't cross and Iwobi has one 5 minutes of brilliance every three games...

I have noticed Gomes attempting to put in the killer pass and going for goal more often, but the team is shot-shy. Without Doucouré's engine, we will most likely slide down to 8th or 9th.

We all know there is a lack of pace in the side and, once we try to throw more bodies forward, we usually get caught out at the back.

Having said all this, it's a game of small margins and, in our recent games, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin have both failed to take the chances that we have created. For a team that creates so few chances, that is the difference between success and failure.

All-in-all, we are on course and and perhaps we might string a few wins together, as this team seems to do losses and wins in sequences.

Andrew Ellams
8 Posted 16/03/2021 at 07:40:16
How will these people who are jumping on Martin's back feel if we do miss out on Europe, finishing below Liverpool and Arsenal?

Who cares if we had the best start to the season in decades if the season ends the same way as most of the last 20?

You can make as many excuses for Ancelotti as you like but many of the dropped points at home are on him and his tactics and they have not been good enough.

If we don't qualify for Europe this time, it will be tougher next time when other teams like Liverpool and Arsenal pick themselves up.

Barry Rathbone
9 Posted 16/03/2021 at 07:56:07
Very good and exceptionally brave piece, Martin, but – as you can see – a partisan echo chamber is no place to raise mild critique.

I like Carlo and hope he does sort it in the summer transfer window because, if not, the same screaming harpies will be all over him like a rash. The points you raise are valid – no matter how much the baying mob are upset.

Jerome Shields
10 Posted 15/03/2021 at 08:01:49
Everton were never going to be easy to turn around. I have always been of the opinion that it was going to take more than the right manager.

Prior to the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti, the appointments for the past 20 years have been up-and-coming managers, to suit the aspirations of a club hierarchy who had not got the abilities to match the actual requirements to progress Everton. Even the fans' aspirations were way ahead of reality, believing that each new manager was going to ensure a Top Four finish.

Ancelotti was appointed as an experienced manager and that was what we required at Everton. But the club hierarchy is similar with the additional anomalies of a Director of Football being a member of the Board and the major shareholder being at arm's length, content to allow the previous unsuccessful club hierarchy to run the club.

Ancelotti has implemented three strategies in turning the club around: Implemented strategic personnel changes at Finch Farm, with an emphasis on recovery; made Everton's existing players more tactically adaptable and transferring in players to help with this; and individually trying to improve the technical and tactical ability of players in the positions they are selected to play in.

Tactically, Everton have improved, but technically in regard to individual players, the progress has been limited. This has been particularly exposed at Goodison Park. It is obvious that Everton need quality additions to the squad, but this has been restricted by previous over-valued players on long over-paid contracts – and the fact that Everton are not seen as a good career move for a capable Top Four player. At least Everton are not the stepping stone they once were. The Youth Development policy, though changed by Brands, is not producing as it should.

Ancelotti has been successful in developing the tactical adaptability and developing players to suit, and has increased squad depth as a result, but he has fallen short on the development of players' technical ability.

With 10 games left, Everton under Ancelotti will achieve a Top Six finish. A Top four finish is unrealistic since Everton do not have enough Top Four players. Ancelotti has addressed the spirit problem, but has realised that the players do not have the technical ability for tactical open play at home and he will change the tactics for the remaining home games.

A lot still unrealistically expect Everton to over-achieve and want an unrealistic quick fix. This is not going to happen. Ancelotti is still on course and Brands is reducing the wage bill, but the club hierarchy is as bad as ever.

If Ancelotti does not progress Everton, be prepared for another 20 years of dross or worse. There is not manager out there with a silver bullet as far as Everton is concerned. It is interesting that the 'open-play' Chelsea turned into the 'set up stall' Chelsea against Leeds at home and were content with the result.

Joe McMahon
11 Posted 16/03/2021 at 08:05:38
Martin, a good article but we cannot keep going back to the amazing 11 years of cavalier football under David Moyes. Those 11 years also had many of the worst negative performances I've seen.

Yes, we have a world class manager but we don't have world class players. He's a bit unsure what to do, which I'm baffled by; his four signings are a huge improvement but, as you have stated, James in particular will hardy wear the blue shirt. That's the challenge: we can only get top drawer talent if they are crocked.

The only slight positive for me is we have one of the most talented players who have ever played in the Premier League, it's just that he never plays.

At the end of the day, it's a typical Everton season that more or less has been the last 30+ years.

Mal van Schaick
13 Posted 16/03/2021 at 08:15:51
Chewing the cud with ten games to go, I would say that, for whatever reasons, we have lost matches we should've won, or got points from.

Fulham and Burnley are the prime examples – just when we were trying to break into the top four. Also, our injury list, team selection, formations and player performances have played some part in our current league position.

All we can do is finish the season on a high and say that it's better under Ancelotti than it has been under previous managers.

It's not doom and gloom, but it's what it could've been in terms of where we are now and where we might finish in the league. A win against Man City in the FA cup would be a major boost.

John Keating
14 Posted 16/03/2021 at 08:23:42
Fair enough piece, Martin, and some fair comments.

I think one thing Ancelotti has brought in is a change of mindset and expectation which we have not had for years... in fact, I would say since the 1984-85 season.

Our home form is a disgrace and I am afraid it will cost us a European place which, when it comes to the Europa League, might not be a bad thing.

Regarding criticism of Ancelotti: if deserved, then fair enough. However, there is a difference between fair criticism and the continual hateful bile that one or two come out with day after day, regardless of result or performance.

Tony Abrahams
15 Posted 16/03/2021 at 08:24:41
It's all on Saturday now, Mal, so we need positivity all week!
Eddie Dunn
18 Posted 16/03/2021 at 08:45:26
It is worth noting that we played better at Goodison Park with just 2,000 fans in there than we have with an empty stadium. Who knows if our away form would have been quite as good if the likes of Liverpool, Leicester City, Sheffield Utd et al had had their fans in?

Strange times!

Robert Tressell
19 Posted 16/03/2021 at 08:47:17
Jay Wood,

Rightly noted on another thread that we've had 3 managers in two of the past few seasons. On both occasions, things had gotten so bad we needed emergency action to avoid a strong chance of relegation.

Last season, we finished 12th. If we finish in the top half this season with just one manager for the duration, then that's an improvement on last season.

As I see it, this season is all about getting us roughly to where we should be, based on investment in the playing squad, ie, 7th. If we exceed that, then great.

But after the turmoil of the last few years, and the dysfunctional squad it left behind, it's no bad thing to have some steady evolution.

This summer, we'll recruit – and this will buy us the capability to improve the league placing and goal difference.

Alan J Thompson
20 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:06:56
Robert (#19),

"As I see it, this season is all about getting us roughly to where we should be, based on investment in the playing squad."

Does that take into account inflation / devaluation?

How would somebody like James on a free affect that calculation and would that figure increase to reflect the increase in value of somebody like Calvert-Lewin?

Or do you consider it makes no difference as it could affect all clubs similarly unless they only shop in lower divisions and play their youngsters.

Jerome Shields
21 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:08:19
This summer, players will be brought in to supplement the existing squad and there will not be many of them, as has been the policy of Ancelotti and Brands. I still expect more offloading before any purchase is made. Just saying in case anyone is expecting a spending spree.

The expansive Everton style of play will be on hold way into next season and will be in short supply after that.

Robert Tressell
22 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:27:02
Alan @ 20, our squad value is just north of £500m, which is 7th. Our wage bill puts us in about the same place.

Although you can debate the values of individual players, you can see that the rich 6 have invested more – many hundreds of millions more – and that Leicester City (8th highest squad value) have invested wisely for a sustained spell and therefore punch above their weight.

In very crude terms, it means we've got about the 8th best squad in the Premier League.

And probably not by quirk of fate therefore, 8th has been a glass ceiling for us since that first Martinez season.

Charles Barrow
23 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:30:06
The article was a point of view reasonably expressed and I don't think anyone should blow a gasket over it!

My own view is that I have been disappointed by the home performances and some of our manager's tactics. But I do think he needs time over the summer to sort out personnel issues and to imprint his style and approach to games. Next season will be the real test for Ancelotti – we will all want improvements.

On the comment about Moyes! Let's not get too over-excited about West Ham. Just like with us, every time he plays a 'top 4' team or an important game... he loses – because of his tactics and team selection. Sure, he may give West Ham some stability, but that's about it.

Andrew Ellams
24 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:33:11
Robert, I've often wondered where these squad values come from.

Who has decided that Everton's squad is worth $500m+ and Leicester's isn't? I mean they have outperformed in most of the past 6 years including a league title and a Champions League quarter final.

Robert Tressell
25 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:39:12
Well, as I say you can debate the accuracy but Transfermarkt values squads and players. It's not accurate but the same inaccuracies apply across the piece so it's not a bad proxy.

For validation, look at the net spend, wage bill and well stocked benches of the rich 6.

Rob Dolby
26 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:48:58
Fully agree with Mike @3.

As a footy fan nothing and nobody is immune from opinion or criticism. That's one of the reasons why people love football. One man's meat is anothers poison.

Tom Davies is a prime example of extreme views. One week he is our next captain the next deadwood. Ancelotti is not immune from this.

Maybe the Moyes era has shortened our patience with managers and to a lesser extend the miracle that was achieved at Leicester.

HK mk1 went through some tough times after the honeymoon period ended fans started calling for his head. One back pass later and we where on the march with Howard's army.

After a few fruitless seasons the most successful manager in British football history needed a Mark Robbins goal to save his job.

A man who reshaped how football is played in England. Built a stadium off the back of his success and is still advising FIFA was hounded out at Arsenal.

My point being the 3 managers mentioned above had years of mediocrity before finding a winning formula.

After suffering 11 years of Moyes and the false dawn's afterwards. I am inclined to give Ancelotti as much time and money as possible. It won't stop me being critical of his decisions when he gets it wrong and praising when he gets it right.

Ancelotti is very good at what he does. He isn't a miracle worker. He won't change average players into world beaters but he has already improved average players to be very functional for us.

Michael Kenrick
27 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:50:04
I agree, Robert, that Transfermarkt should be the place of choice to see and compare the Market Value of current squads in the Premier League. All the parts are there... I just can't find the right link to bring up that comparison!
Rob Halligan
28 Posted 16/03/2021 at 09:54:10
Can’t find any thread on the new stadium, so I’ll put it on here.

The government have asked for more time before making their decision on BMD. The club and Liverpool city council are not surprised at this considering the size of the project, and are not unduly concerned, but FFS isn’t three weeks long enough? There is no indication of when the final decision will be made.

Dave Abrahams
29 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:05:48
I think Carlo will get and deserve a walkover until around Christmas time this year, then we might have some idea of where he is taking us, the tactics he used against Newcastle and Fulham at home he repeated in the first half versus Burnley, they don’t work, I think he should have known that, hopefully he does now.

The signings of Allan and James when they came were put down to Carlo, they wouldn’t have come here, was the majority of fans opinion, he was applauded for it, there didn’t seem to be any doubt they were Carlo’s signings, so with the injury to Allan, that has limited his playing time and he doesn’t look entirely fit since he came back, James is very good for limited periods when he plays, missed quite a lot of games, and goes missing quite a lot during the time he is playing, so I hope Carlo’s signings in the summer are much better than those two.

Give him more time, certainly, and as John (14) says praise him when he deserves it and criticise him when he doesn’t, I’d also forget his past history no matter how good or bad it has been, concentrate how he performs here but give him a fair go.

David Pearl
30 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:13:21
We wont do better than Carlo Ancelotti. The name, the experience, the pulling power. And after the next window he will have a new right back, a new winger and a new midfielder... hopefully 2 of them will have pace and can create some magic.

Where he has failed for me is his constant changing of formation and the diamond midfield which leaves full backs exposed, just kills me. It just leaves us unbalanced going forward and creates gaps in midfield.

I enjoyed Richarlison playing more central as he found the net again. But enough is enough. It doesn't work because we have no natural wingers. I've lost count of how many formations he has tried. 442, 4141, 4411, 433, 4231, 532. Have l missed any? Probably

He should go back to more of a 451,or variation of, so we get that consistant shape again. He got it right against Spurs in the very first game. Lost it due to injury and then struggled to find any rhythm ever since. We have had a couple pockets of games where he finds something that works again.. like the Wolves game where he overloaded wide, and played 2 false 9s and it worked... but that was a one off because of injuries.

The RS game with Holgate and Godrey either side of Keane. We had balance. Coleman was injured the next game but instead of keeping that formation by trying to slot Iwobi there he ripped it up and killed our flow. Because of the diamond he keeps going for it impacts how we move as a team.

I'm sure we will improve again next season with additions. But the time is now and he has to go back to solid lines again and sticks with a formation that works for the players that are available.

He is fucking this season up and l'm sure he knows it. Just seems like he is planning for next season already when we have so much still to play for.

Clive Rogers
31 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:14:50
I feel that Allan is struggling with the pace of the premier league and picking up strain injuries. We have bought him too late in his career and past his best. He is 31 next season.
Jim Potter
32 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:23:17
Interesting piece Martin - and views that should be aired.

I love the guy, but everyone is open to criticism.

There is no doubt that the start of the campaign was superb and our away form is still very encouraging. Our home performances are baffling though, especially against such mediocre teams. We appear to have a mental block that needs a coach load of Austrian psychotherapists.

My belief is that Carlo is still relatively new to the club and is having to deal with a lot of players he would't have through choice. He obviously hasn't got a lot of trust in some of the squad players because why else would he constantly be playing the underwhelming Iwobi and Gomes? My heart sinks every time I see them on a team sheet.

A fit first team is fine, thereafter he's in trouble.

This next window might be the making or breaking of him. I just hope he gets the quality and character right in those signings.

And wherever we finish, that win at Anfield lifted my spirits massively during this year of living inertia.

He's a lovely guy, with a superb track record and we've seen some great performances. But, we've also seen a lot of underwhelming dross.

I want patience to be shown and Carlo to stay for as long as possible - because if he fails, who is there out there who can succeed?

Steve Brown
33 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:43:39
Recency has a big part on how I read this article.

If I base it on the infuriating tactical set-up on Saturday and the dismal performances of the majority of the team, then I find myself nodding at several of the points.

Looking at the season as a whole, we are seventh with a game in hand and have recorded memorable wins against top teams. Ancelotti will change the tactical formation of the team and the line-up depending on squad strength, the fixture list and the opposition. He has always done so and he has netted 3 champions league trophies and league titles in Italy, France, Spain and England (world class manager). He has made some bad decisions in tactical set-up and rotating players, but he is still in the positive column overall.

The point that the squad is weak is not an excuse - it is fact. Regardless of the number of internationals in the squad, overall it is been crap for the last four years and three managers have been sacked as a result. So, it is progress with missed opportunities that are beginning to drive me mad.

Brian Murray
34 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:46:09
Jim. Post 32. I don’t pretend to know the answer as to why he persists with the likes of Gomes and I’m sure quick as a flash someone will say who else has he got. It’s called being innovative and creative. Some of the best midfielders ever where played in a different position to start with. That’s why a manager is paid millions and we just painfully point things out on a forum. I have heard this very Evertontian remark or stock answer of well who we gona get !! I really hope Carlo is learning ( still ) that these players and formations are not working instead of his shrug of the shoulders and we didn’t turn up today Southampton Leeds and so on where too quick ( good ) for us on the day. It’s all wearing a bit thin but hey let’s all together now. Who we gona get. Coyb and Carlo you know you can do it.
Colin Glassar
35 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:52:51
30 + years of constant decline and you come up with this long winded, boorish shit to justify your dislike for a good man and a great manager?

I’m sick to my back teeth with this childish notion that a messiah will arrive to cure all our ills. That we will win every game without conceding a goal. That we will play samba football like the world hasn’t seen since 1970. That none of our players will be injured or lose form etc...

We have an owner, and now a manager, who are trying to undo 30 fucking years of mismanagement. 30 fucking years of accepting mediocrity. 30 fucking years of being in the wilderness and now, all of a sudden, we are demanding this to be resolved in just over a year? Fuck off, this is going to take years mate, and hundreds of millions, to fix!

Everyone wants Everton to succeed but immature hit jobs on a man who has to make a steak dinner out of a pile (inherited) of shite won’t make a difference. Investment, stability and a new stadium just might.

Barry Rathbone
36 Posted 16/03/2021 at 10:58:51
I think an underlying fear surrounding Carlo's wins (or good draws - utd) are they don't come as a result of overpowering the opposition. Indeed, we seem a tinsy bit light on our loafers every time a team doesn't play a technical game and resorts to a bit of "up and at 'em".

James, when fit providing sublime guile accompanied by moderate competence around him works in a certain type of game but in the heat of a battle can be found wanting.

I'm hoping the signing of Allen was Carlo's attempt to rectify this painfully obvious flaw but he's not very good so it's back to square one

Rob Dolby
37 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:00:52
Clive have you got a template for that comment? Saying that I am like that with Iwobi.

That's the market we are in. Nobody else wanted Allan, he was probably happy with Napoli but was persuaded by Ancelotti and a final pay day. When fit he is better than what we have.

If a club is getting regular champions League football and are contending for trophies who do you think they would pick? Hoiberg is a prime example.

I expect a few more old arses and young potentials arriving before we can seriously compete with the big boys. Philips, Rice and Grealish would do me but the big boys will be in for them soon enough.

Thomas Richards
38 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:04:56
Colin G.

Best post I have read for many a day

Alan McGuffog
39 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:05:33
No one is entitled to a free ride, criticism wise, but, as a matter of interest, who would replace Carlo if he jumped / was pushed ?
Rob Dolby
40 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:06:06
Colin 35. Great post made me chuckle.
Steve Carse
41 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:33:41
My own view on the job Carlo is doing changes virtually every few weeks. But there's one decidedly negative aspect of Carlo's decision-making that I can't see referenced in this thread - namely our actions in player outgoings. Yes, some of the deadwood has been removed (albeit only temporarily since many have been loans). But for the life of me I fail to understand why Kean and Gordon were released when we're now reduced to having a bench with two goalkeepers and a couple of kids who are included for the match day experience only.
The lack of activity in bringing in players in January signalled quite openly that CL qualification was not a target and that we'd be happy with the Europa League (even this now seeming unlikely). Not the sign of a club going places. Nor the sign of a manager much concerned about developing young players, supposedly something engrained in the Club's 'plan'.
Robert Tressell
42 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:38:48
Michael @ 27 the squad values are here
Brent Stephens
43 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:39:21
Colin #35 - spot on.

Martin "I agree, this is not Carlo’s team yet, but let’s not pretend that he is just working with the crop of shit from previous seasons".

Well at least you recognise the squad limitations that Carlo inherited (though I wouldn't say they are all shit).

"Did we not bring in, as noted above, Godfrey, Doucouré and Carlo’s buddies Allan and Rodriguez?"

Injuries to three of the four have disrupted the team. The fourth has been a superb signing.

Danny Broderick
44 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:40:42
Colin (35),

Great post!

Unfortunately this article sums up the modern fickle supporter. Everton fans never used to be like that in my opinion, but we are now as bad as any team. For some, only perfection is good enough. There’s no room for bumps in the road - a few bad results, a bad couple of signings, loss of form, injuries. Only utopia is allowed!

I have seen many improvements this season:

- Recruitment (they’ve all made us better)

- Player development (e.g. Pickford, Keane, Godfrey, Davies, DCL)

- Away record

- Squad rotation (real competition for places, even in GK position)

But regardless of this, I am expecting Carlo to possibly have a sticky time at some point, because life is like that. Perfection doesn’t exist. And I will still back him even if we are in the bottom half next year, because I remember what he inherited and where we were when he took over. He has sorted out many things. It was a minimum 3 year job to turn us around, not 14 months!

We are probably the 7th/8th best team in the Prem, and will probably finish 7th/8th, despite various serious injuries to our best players. We are heading the right way, all good managers build from the back, that is clearly what Carlo is doing.

Bobby Mallon
45 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:41:40
Sorry Martin we where not lucky to get a draw at Utd, we played bloody great football they where lucky to get a lucky 3rd goal
Thomas Richards
46 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:47:08

On the four signings, I'm sure I read they haven't all played in the same starting eleven due to injury.

Bobby Mallon
47 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:53:44
Andrew Ellams @8 the dropped points at home are squarely on the shoulders of the players, those fuckers are the ones that don’t shoot, don’t make runs don’t put the effort in. The side out against Burnley should have won that game. They are the ones who don’t try. Go back and watch the first goal again. Kean plays a good ball that is robbed from Davis. Just watch Iwobi and Gomes trot backfilling disgraceful, then when kean knocks it to woods Watch Godfrey hesitate and stop if he had ran at woods no goal. But also look at how Andre Gomes just does exactly the same just stops. Players are collectively to blame
Jerome Shields
48 Posted 16/03/2021 at 11:55:30
Ancelotti is a Manager that does take risks.

After the opening wins of the season during the following barren period and accompanying injuries he did try playing players in different positions. This resulted in greater squad depth, which has helped later on in the season.

Against Burnley he played a open game trying to depend more on the technically ability of the players. They where found wanting, but Ancelotti now knows and has acknowledged the technical limitations of his squad.

Ancelotti is not a Manager bound by any glass ceilings. He will continually push the limits of the Everton Squad performance and each players will be continually challenged on the limits of their performance.

Rob Halligan
49 Posted 16/03/2021 at 13:28:04
The opening paragraph tells me how the rest of the post was going to pan out..................

"As we move into the final quarter of the season, Carlo Ancelotti has been in charge for 14½ months. So where are we under the leadership of Carlo “Magnifico”?I

14.5 months, 14.5 fucking months he's been here, not 14.5 years. So yet again, I'll say it, if people want mediocrity then get rid of Carlo, bring back the dinosaur cum fraudster Allardyce, bring in Chris Wilder, bring in some bloke from Swansea called Steve Cooper. In fact, bring them all in, give us all a fucking good laugh, and the rest of the country. This crew will certainly have us drooling won't they, drooling with fear that relegation is just around the corner.

As Colin says, we have a owner hell bent on success and he finally has the right man to do it. I've seen a few posts elsewhere (not on this thread) moaning about Ancelotti's age. The man is 61 years old FFS. He might be a bit slow on his feet nowadays but his brain is ticking over nicely.

It really does make you laugh. Some wanted instant success last season. FFS Carlo why didn't you win the FA Cup and / or get us into Europe last season? How shit can you get? And before some start on about the FA Cup game against the RS, yes I know it was some of their kids, but not the whole team. This was only Ancelotti's fourth of fifth game in charge, but it was also a game where we should have been at least four or five up by half time. I suppose poor finishing in that game was Carlo's fault? Of course, he said to DCL and Richarlison, the two biggest culprits if I remember rightly, "Now then lads, go out there but whatever you do, don't score"

I could go on all day knocking threads like this, but do you know what? I CAN'T BE FUCKING ARSED!

Colin Glassar
50 Posted 16/03/2021 at 15:24:47
Spot on Rob!
Danny O’Neill
51 Posted 16/03/2021 at 15:54:41
I enjoyed reading that Martin. I thought it was well written and puts your view across in a constructive manner.

I'd rather pass on judging Carlo just now as we are not even at the end of his first full season, let alone long enough into his tenure. If we'd have judged Moyes after 14 + months, we'd have been discussing finishing 17th, missing the drop by 6 points and 3 behind Manchester City who had humiliated us 5 - 1 on the last day of the season.

Realistically, I'll make an initial assessment at the end of the season as I've said all along. Ideally, I would rather be here in 3 years time looking back at how we have improved. As a club we have not been thinking strategically hence result-by-result reactions. That doesn't mean not commenting, praising or criticising individual results, performances and tactics. Most on here do all of that based on how we see it.

Recent performances have not be great to watch; the hallmarks of a thin squad in which realistically, we are relying on a core of 16 players. I like your reference to goal difference. That is always a really good gauge as to where you are if you look beyond results and performances alone.

In response to your valid questions (excuse me for not being verbatim):

1. On course for Europe? Yes we are. Very much so on 2 fronts. And there is the distinct possibility 7th could be sufficient. In this topsy turvy season, who is to say those teams mentioned won't slip up as much as we have done and will no doubt do again? Because they also have to date.

2. Away form v Home form? I personally don't like to use the crowd argument as that is a level playing field. We all suffer from the same. But it is very interesting the number of teams who's away form is better (United) and those who's previous fortresses are no longer so (look no further than across the Park?).

3. Not Carlo's team? No it is not. Aside from the 4 new players who have featured regular, it is the same squad. Those 4 did however improve the squad. Not just because they are an improvement on what we had, but they improved players around them. Mina, Keane, Davies, Sigurdsson, all playing better. Davies for one has personally called out having Allan to train and play with as a big factor in his improved form. But this was always going to be incremental over time to undo 30 years of mismanagement and under-investment. Next turn of the wheel we add another 4 - 5 who improve the squad further only now we are improving on better than what we had 14 months ago.

4. World Class? He is. Past his peak? Possibly. I point to the Man City approach. A gradual progression and improvement in manager to get to Pep. Mark Hughes to Mancini to Pellegrini to Guardiola. Stepping stones over years. Unfortunately it will take years to undo 30 years of neglect and it might just be that Ancelotti is our first real stepping stone to doing that at managerial level.

I'll finish as I started, well written piece that puts your point of view across in a constructive way in my opinion. That is what this site should be about. Sharing and debating conflicting views.

Jay Wood

52 Posted 16/03/2021 at 15:59:00
Having not got much traction or interest in his previous most recent article (an attempt to imitate John Bunyan with ‘The Toffee’s Progress’, I’m not surprised to find Martin re-hashing his own TW literary efforts he periodically puts up.

The order of the words may get shuffled around and dressed up as being ‘balanced and reasonable’, but the overall tone remains: ‘I never wanted Carlo Ancelotti and I still don’t want him’

First, to respond to the four points he challenges:

1. We are (at the time of writing) in 6th place and on course for Europe.

We have occupied every position from 1st to 9th this season, nothing lower. We occupied 8th and 9th place for one week only apiece. Overwhelmingly after each round of fixtures, we have remained in the top six, often with 1 or 2 games in hand over the teams around us. And – yes! – we keep blowing those games in hand. Our actual ‘medium’ position over the course of the entire season to date is FIFTH!

Only City (22 wins), United (16 wins) and Leicester (17 wins) have more total victories in this season than Everton’s 14 (equal with Chelsea and WHU), but Martin considers ‘in reality we are performing no better than the other mediocre higher mid-table teams’ and confidently predicts the likes of Liverpool, Spurs, WHU ('Carlo is not even doing as good a job as Moyes’) and Arsenal will finish above us. And well they might. As might we, based on the season to date, finish above them (and others).

Funny how Martin’s crystal ball only sees rolling storm clouds for Carlo’s Everton and a bright sunshiny day for all our rivals.

2. Look at how our away record has improved.

Martin’s claim that we have won (for Everton) a PL record-equalling 9 away wins this season is due to the absence of fans may well be a legitimate one. You may well see a ‘flip’ in home and away records if and when fans return to the stadiums. But then, that would be true for ALL teams. Martin presents it as a malaise particular to Everton only. By a slight of hand, Martin turns a clear positive improvement into a lucky ‘it won’t last’ phenomenon.

3. This is not Carlo’s team

This IS Carlo’s team. He said it very recently himself. He is NOT getting a free pass from plenty of people who expects him to work with what he has got. I’ll expand on this later in reference to another article by Martin about the squad.

4. We have a world-class manager.

By any criterion you care to judge a manager, Carlo Ancelotti IS world class. He did not fail at Bayern. He won the Bundesliga. He did not fail at Napoli. He was dismissed having won his last game in charge 4-0 which guaranteed Napoli qualified for the last 16 of the CL. He had beaten and drawn with the reigning CL champions (them!) in a tough group. Mike Gaynes accurately lays out the politics at Napoli that saw him dismissed.

As I already mentioned, this is standard fare for Martin who does like to trip out a mocking ‘Carlo Fantastico’ article, usually following a defeat as is the case here.

He highlights perceived failings and problems, often ignoring some of his own sage words from his earlier articles. This is what Martin has previously said about the squad Carlo inherited:

Back in January 2020 following the shameful cup loss at Analfield, in a couple of different articles, ‘The Skeleton Crew’ and ‘Flowers Die’ Martin repeated the same belief about trading in the January transfer window:

It will be the summer where we will have to recruit heavily again with, basically, half a new squad [my emphasis]. Next summer will be our last big chance in the transfer market. Brands and Ancelotti will need to get it right or we will be in one hell of a mess.’

This was followed up by: ‘We need to move players out to be able to bring players in… let Ancelotti get through the rest of the season with the players we have and let him plan with Marcel Brands for the Summer transfer window, bringing anyone in before then would be pointless.’

In June 2020 before the re-start of the suspended season in his ‘Time to Experiment’ Martin proposed Carlo gave 7 players – Moise Kean, Anthony Gordon, Alex Iwobi, Dennis Adeniran, Beni Baningime, Nathangelo Markelo and Lewis Gibson a run in the team. Most of them belong in the ‘where are they now?’ file.

Martin’s ‘End of Year Report’ in July-2020 marked everybody’s card out of 10.

Martin’s stripped down evaluation reads:

Pickford 2 - upgrade
Coleman 3 – back-up at best, move on
Sidibe 2 – awful
Digne 3 – incredibly overrated
Baines 4 – times up
Keane 5 – not good enough going forward
Mina 5 – injury plagued, in and out performances
Holgate 7.5 – player of the season the whole defence should be built around him
Branthwaite 6 – a real find
Gbamin 3 – injury-prone, hard to judge [my note: amazing how a player who didn’t clock up 90 minutes for us in his two appearances scores higher than TEN other players in Martin's ratings]
Schneiderlin 4 – money down the drain
Davies 2.5 – hard to categorize, never got beyond average
Gomes 2 – nothing to talk about
Sigurdsson 1 – burnt money
Delph MINUS 10 (and that’s being kind) – please, just be gone
Iwobi 1 – panic buy, shown absolutely nothing
Walcott 1 – did absolutely nothing. Move on
Bernard 1 – flatters to deceive, did nothing all season
Gordon 5 – showed potential, hopefully next season will be a big breakout year
Tosun 2 – not good enough, has no future at the club
Kean 4 – not a great first season, one we can look forward to improving next season
DCL 6 – improved, dreadful post-lockdown, nagging feeling he is not quite good enough. If we bring in Odsonne Edouard, Dom would be out the door asap
Richarlison 6.5 – talisman, workaholic, along with Holgate our most important player

The Managers:
Marco Silva 1 – nightmare
Duncan Ferguson 6.5 – gave us a shot in the arm when needed, but it would never have lasted
Carlo Ancelotti 3 – [Martin’s full critique to reinforce where his latest article – ALL his articles! - comes from]:

‘I hold my hands up: I don’t think he is the right manager for us and have written a couple of articles why this is. At present (although I hope I’m wrong), nothing he has done has persuaded me any different. He has been bang average to date and his record against the so-called big six since he came to the club has been appalling.

'I have seen many disgraceful showings against Liverpool but the absolute disgrace of losing in the FA Cup to a few second-stringers and a bunch of crèche kids goes down as the lowest of the low.

'But he needs to be given time... although I only see it ending in tears. Anyone who thinks he has been anything but average so far, in my humble opinion, are in cloud cuckoo land.’

Marcel Brands 3 – not convinced
The Board 2 – light years behind our competitors
Farhad Moshiri 2 – day-dreaming billionaire, wasting money and not taking the club in the right direct

Given Martin’s player, manager and other evaluations of the club, and given that the bulk of those players are still at Everton, Carlo is not just being Fantastico. He’s working freaking miracles.

Mike Gaynes
53 Posted 16/03/2021 at 16:36:33
Colin #35, I wish you would stop tiptoeing around the issues and simply express your fucking opinion in plain fucking language.

Rob #49, I wish you would stop tiptoeing around the issues and simply express your fucking opinion in plain fucking language.

Rob #26: "After a few fruitless seasons the most successful manager in British football history needed a Mark Robbins goal to save his job."

Forgive my imperfect grasp of British football history, but to whom do you refer, and when did that happen? Is that the Mark Robins who played for Norwich 20 years ago during their meteor moment?

Darren Hind
54 Posted 16/03/2021 at 16:50:46

An excellent thought provoking piece..Such a refreshing change to see somebody actually questioning if the king is in the altogether.

However, as somebody said above. The partisan echo chamber is no place to raise mild critique.

We finished 5th the season before Moshiri got here. The football we have witnessed since that time has been unrelentingly grim. We have actually found a new level of grim in the past fifteen months

People talk about progress, but Our football gets uglier by the season and our chances of getting to the dizzy heights of the fifth were we finished under Roberto get slimmer by the week.

Still. I'm deffo reassured to be informed that Carlo is working "freaking miracles" That really is a load off

Danny O’Neill
55 Posted 16/03/2021 at 17:08:47
One of the questions was have we improved. In terms of league position, we are closer to 5th now than 15 months ago.
Danny O’Neill
56 Posted 16/03/2021 at 17:20:44
Stop teasing Mike. From the BBC in 2018:

"On this day 25 years ago, Mark Robins scored one of BBC Sport's iconic FA Cup goals at Nottingham Forest to save Alex Ferguson's job as manager at Manchester United.

In January 1990, a large part of United's supporters wanted Ferguson (the knighthood was another nine years away) out of the club.

United had lost at home to Crystal Palace the previous month, prompting a banner in the Stretford End that accused Ferguson of presiding over "three years of excuses" at Old Trafford.

Defeat away to an in-form Forest in the FA Cup seemed a distinct possibility - and the rumour was such a result would be Ferguson's last in charge".

As mentioned. We have form here. "Kendall must go".

Mike Gaynes
57 Posted 16/03/2021 at 18:30:39
Thanks, Danny. That was before PL and FA Cup games were regularly available on TV here, and I have no memory of that at all.

My only recollection of Mark Robins, and it's pretty fuzzy, is of him leading little Norwich to a victory at Bayern Munich. And I only remember that because my semipro team had a striker named Gunter who had spent some time in Bayern's youth system, and he invited about 6 of us to his house to watch the game. He was pointing to various guys on the screen and saying he had played with this one and that one, but as the game went on he got quieter and quieter. A couple of the guys teased him so much he quit our team not long after. Mark Robins and his mates probably cost us a playoff spot that season. But I gotta say it was probably worth it just to shut up Gunther.

Darren Hind
58 Posted 16/03/2021 at 18:45:49
So We play football of the zombie variety because of a rumour about the Man united manager 35 years ago ?

Why didnt someone just say ?..It all becomes clear now

Danny O’Neill
59 Posted 16/03/2021 at 18:53:55
Nice story and same Mark Robins Mike. I remember that Norwich team and its link to Everton. Both with fondness and then with warning signs. The perils of going with the latest, greatest British media favourite who has done well at a smaller club. I give you Mr Mike Walker! Some would have had Chris Wilder over Ancelotti because of a one off season with Sheffield United.

Mentioning Bayern, you have reminded me of my German allegiances to FC Schalke and the total dire straights they are in right now.

Thomas Richards
60 Posted 16/03/2021 at 18:59:00

Ive scoured through the thread.

Cant see anyone suggesting the link to man u manager and your point at 58 ?

Danny O’Neill
61 Posted 16/03/2021 at 19:02:13
The point being do we judge over 14 months (in line with the well written article here and well projected view by the way), just because we don't and never wanted someone and will likely never accept them?

Or give them sufficient time to actually judge them on their own merits? Genuine question.

They were more than rumours. Ferguson's head was potentially on the block and all of us who were around then were aware of that.

Dale Self
62 Posted 16/03/2021 at 19:04:35
You seem to agree with the cases for the defense and then throw in some conditional that fails to undermine the defense's position. In all four of the cases you table each one is showcased with a 'yes but'. I gave it a good look but that does seem to be what is written.

And about the comments section:

What is this whining about a partisan echo chamber? Where do you get this stuff, Infowars? Just make your case and skip the perjoratives mate. We are certainly in a good enough position to play a let's wait and see card. So let's wait and see.
Signed - Dirty F'ing Happy

Danny O’Neill
63 Posted 16/03/2021 at 19:19:02
I'll take that one Thomas. I answered Mike's ask. The reference is telling though and relevant. Us fans and our frustration can be easy to judge through said understandable frustration.

The link refers back to Rob's (@26) initial comment that Howard Kendall was almost hounded out by the baying pack before he went on to become Everton's most successful manager of all time. Alex Ferguson was under serious pressure and threat prior to building a dynasty.

And we are judging someone trying to untangle 30 years of neglect after 14 months and not yet having completed a full season in charge?

I get it's all about opinions and I will reiterate, I actually like this article. Agree with it or not, well written and presented.

Thomas Richards
64 Posted 16/03/2021 at 19:24:50
Thanks Danny.

I still cant see the connection between Mikes and your posts with "us playing zombie football"

Paul Birmingham
65 Posted 16/03/2021 at 20:08:51
Where people happy, with Sam, The Klogg, BBS, bar his first season, Marco Silva...?

The club has festered for decades and it’s been appalling bad, predictable and arguably not good value for money watching the game, but priceless for the banter and wit in the ale houses and on here and the other fanzines some of which are no longer going.

But success and sustainable success needs a foundation and a proper football development plane and business plan.

Successful clubs and those consistently successful, have established themselves due to success on the park, and grown and nurtured their success.

Year on year from last year, Everton are improving and on the stats this season are close on the top 5.

The club is in transition and the frustrations of all with style and manner, is understandable but by the start of next season, I have faith the squad will be improved and the football style and game plan will be more offensive.

So justifiably how long does it take to make a successful team, if success, in silverware and European measurement is the bench mark?

I don’t know and where this seasons journey takes Everton, and it remains to be seen.

But respecting every ones view and 1000s of years of match time and Everton experience, and participating daily on TW, it’s clear and healthy that we all have a different views, On most matters Everton.

But how many managers in the modern era have taken mediocrity to instant success with out major rebuilding?

I’m disappointed as hell with the Burnley result, and the others, v Leeds, West Ham, Fulham, but for me the club is on the right path, albeit a very bumpy road, but going in the right direction.

Calling out the shortfalls in performance is acceotabke but let’s judge and mark the initial assessment after Carlos first full season, check the end of season position and the statisticians, can do their magic and analyse every game.

It took Mr Ed, over 3 seasons to get his team going.

It’s frustrating but in donkies years, there’s hope on the horizon for Everton. Well said Colin, Rob, Mike, Danny, et Al, and as Evertonians let’s beware the Ides of March!

Brian Murray
66 Posted 16/03/2021 at 20:25:20
I’d rather the saying. Beware blue sides in March ( banner at Wembley milk cup final !
Ray Robinson
67 Posted 16/03/2021 at 20:30:36
In answer to the question as to where are we now in respect of Carlo Ancelotti, my view is that the jury is still out. We know he has won all that there is to win with other clubs but that means sod all in the context of Everton - other than to prove he has the knowledge and experience.

We all recognise that several positions need to be strengthened - arguably goalkeeper, certainly a right back and another forward but I think most would agree that the weakest link is still the midfield. Sigurdsson, Gomes, Davies, Delph, Bernard and James are all decent players but painfully slow. Any top side can only tolerate one such luxury in today's game and we all know who that would be, if he could only stay fit. Iwobi IS quick but totally lacking playing intelligence. Sigurdsson with Iwobi's pace or Iwobi with Siggy's guile would be quite some player but alas, without some cloning, that ain't going to happen.

So unless Brands / Ancelotti find some decent, forward thinking, speedy, dynamic, replacements with scoring potential over the summer (a la Tielemans, Harvey Barnes, Maddison, Ward Prowse etc), we're going to continue to struggle in the transition between defence and attack - hence the laborious, turgid stuff we've seen this season.

Does Ancelotti see this? Yes, I'm sure he does. Did Ancelotti buy this imbalanced pack of decent but, relatively immobile, players? No - but he did inherit them.

So, I don't feel able to come down one way or another on Ancelotti just yet - not until he has had a few windows to replace this disparate bunch. City didn't get to where they are now in 12 months - it took them several iterations - and they had unlimited resources. I'm afraid, once again, patience is called for.

Barry Rathbone
68 Posted 16/03/2021 at 20:50:29
Paul 65

The problem with referencing Klopp at Anfield is we haven't reached a starting position comparable to the one he walked into.

Their gargantuan spending over the prem period placed the dentist dream a mere stones throw from the summit of Mount Everest. On the other hand being new to this spending lark we are still unpacking at base camp and asking sherpas if piss freezes at this altitude

Jason Li
69 Posted 16/03/2021 at 21:27:36
Now we're almost playing weekly instead of every three days and Coleman, DCL, James, and Allan can rest, I think the team will perform closer to the first few games of the season - baring further injuries.

Ian Horan
70 Posted 16/03/2021 at 21:37:01
We shouldn't compare Ancelotti with Klopp they started at totally different positions. Klopp arrived at the RS in 2015 taking over from Rogers in October ish? The RS finished 2nd the previous season the only player they lost from that team was Knasher Suarez. RS were 7th when he arrived not winning a trophy until 2019 season 3 and a half years in post with a team head and shoulders above ours. They then invested 75 mill on St VVD, 65 mill for the bearded lady and 64 mill on kieta.
When CA arrived at Goodison, be inherited a team desperately trying to get fucking relegated, with a team of misfit overpaid shite as many described the squad. Given the above I belive he has a further 2 1/2 years before we draw parallels, also CA has spent circa 60 mill. In the one transfer window we have been active in recruitment. Irrespective of whats been sponked away by other managers he still has 140 mill more to spend to fairly evaluate Klopp v Ancelotti, also given what we have squad wise I would say he has overachieived however some of his team selections have baffled us all. But for every WTF moment I have over CA he has credit from my perspective merely getting the result at Mordor...
Danny O’Neill
71 Posted 16/03/2021 at 22:01:50
I like that Paul (@65). Thousands of years experience and many different views. Absolutely. But a common bond.
Jerome Shields
72 Posted 17/03/2021 at 10:51:35
This is a good article and has intiated a lot of well thought out posts.
Jason Li
73 Posted 17/03/2021 at 10:59:09
Recently I decided to check out Norwich - Dowell and Max Aarons. I still think Todd Cantwell has something, has that ability to make the right sprints, timing into the right areas, good snappy passes, shooting is good from distance, can explode into attacking areas.

He would be a good long-term addition. Has the potential with Carlo's coaching to be our Bale/Kaka-type of explosive player. If you play a diamond, he is perfect for that role. The opposition defensive midfielders won't ever venture forward when he's on a run of form in the Premier League next season.

Anyway, this season is still in our hands, and this summer will be very interesting.

Clive Rogers
74 Posted 17/03/2021 at 11:59:37
Jason, 73, what about Dowell and Aarons?
Jason Li
75 Posted 17/03/2021 at 12:48:34
Clive @ 74

Dowell looks good at times, at bit languid like Le Tissier - just not yet worked out that extra bit of ability to trick his man to create the extra half second to execute the technique he wants before the ball leaves his foot. Oddly enough, there's only Le Tissier, Maradona, James Rodriguez, Tony Yeboah, Bergkamp and Ronaldinho on the top of my mind who can flick a ball up facing a player closing in and not worry before shooting. Obviously no-one expects Dowell to reach this level, but he needs to find a way to create that extra half a second around the box under all pressures.

Aarons looks good going forwards, stamina is very good and doesn't stay static, in-and-out of the lines, and so not markable. You can see the opposing full back and midfielder having to turn their heads to find him. Defensively is average. But will be good if the right type of players are in the team - meaning if we have a lot of clinical players that can score two in 10 minutes and just like that the game is over like Arsenal invincibles used to do, then the opposition won't push forward all the time and expose themselves, meaning he can push up and stretch the midfield to the touchlines. He reminds me of Paul Parker, Dennis Irwin and Baines, very steady smaller full-backs and he can handle his smaller size well, and can do all the things Coleman does too. He'll have to swap with Holgate when we go to defensive games and lots of crosses at the far posts.

Note of caution though: I'm just watching YouTube highlights, so not the greatest way to judge a player too.

Ian Bennett
76 Posted 17/03/2021 at 13:14:24
King isn't the answer up top, but I'd take Ings. He's available at a decent price this summer, and would be the good buzzy forward to go with Calvert Lewin.

Richarlison on the left, more legs in the middle, a right winger with genuine quality and a replace right back.

Ajay Gopal
77 Posted 17/03/2021 at 13:33:22
Jason, the other Norwich player whose drum I have consistently been beating is Emi Buendia. If we can get him and Aarons, our right side would improve immensely. We could get them by offloading Iwobi, Gomes, Bernard plus one of our CBs. Then either lure Moise Kean back or sell him for mega bucks and get in a top quality forward.
Jason Li
78 Posted 17/03/2021 at 13:44:38
Ajay, yes, Buendia you've mentioned is a very decent player too with fast feet. Not quite Georgi Kinkladze but very decent, Kinkladze is one who I would have loved us to sign when you could see how scared Man Utd were of him, especially Roy Keane.

But yes, Buendia would be another who can just produce a moment of magic in two seconds and destroy a defensive set-up, no doubt about it.

Oddly enough, I'll go for Cantwell above Buendia marginally if it was for top of a diamond, as the Premier Leauge is better at sniffing out dribblers unless you are world class like Mahrez. Cantwell doesn't rely on beating a man, but can arrive like Lampard very quickly in the right spot and finish. To explain further, Richarlison would dribble past 3 or 4 a week in the league below and scored Messi type goals.. it's just the way it is in terms of type of defensive players in the Premier League to the Championship. So, Cantwell for me. At the top level having someone who can ghost in like Gary Speed or Graham Stuart or Paul Scholes is priceless. Only my personal opinion.

Derek Taylor
79 Posted 17/03/2021 at 20:07:04
As is only natural, to some extent every manager appointed gets the job because of what he has achieved - or is believed to have achieved -elsewhere.

Such appointments are a gamble and overwhelmingly a gamble that is adjudged well before due time has arrived. But the gamble on Carlo is more considered. Over and over he has brought -or continued to bring - success to the great many clubs he has served.

The Italian has a great record at clubs in the higher echelons although anything but successful at those you would describe as ordinary - and there is nothing odd about that. Just think of the many managers who have done great things with 'Super Star' clubs and national sides. But just what did the likes of Ramsay, Robson and Venables achieve in late career ? Nothing apart from feathering their nests, I believe.

Somehow I think it's just the same with Uncle Carlo although it's more of a family project with him as he grooms young Davide to replace him.

Of course, we want the old man to be successful - so many have failed. But please, please let's judge him as we've judged all the others before him. On what, and how soon, he gets us back to the days of Catterick and Kendall not what he did in Milan 20 years ago !

Ajay Gopal
80 Posted 18/03/2021 at 08:33:18
Clive (74), Jason (75), you will be happy to read this line from BBC's match report on Norwich's win over Forest yesterday:

"Buendia missed out after his partner gave birth but Dowell filled his role excellently." Dowell apparently scored a cracker. Looks like he will be playing in the PL next season, so all credit to him. Did we insert a 'right of first refusal clause' when we sold him to Norwich? Farke is building a good Championship side there, his challenge will be to keep Norwich in the PL for a few seasons.

Clive Rogers
81 Posted 18/03/2021 at 09:58:55
Thanks for the information guys!
Mark Murphy
82 Posted 18/03/2021 at 10:02:09
Without meaning to state the bleedin obvious I think is only fair to judge Carlo when he has HIS* players all available.
We are a very different prospect with Doucouré, Allan and James in the midfield and Godfrey in the defence.
*im not sure Carlo would have had much say in bringing in King - I think he’s a squad addition for back up. Summer will see more Ancelotti signings - let’s see how we line up next season and what we do when we have a fit squad.
Steve Carse
83 Posted 18/03/2021 at 10:30:35
Mark (82), does any manager ever get to the stage of having all HIS players?
Mick O'Malley
84 Posted 18/03/2021 at 11:13:39
Martin I totally agree with everything you said about Carlo, this is definitely one of the most boring Everton sides I’ve watched in a long time, I love James playing for us but his and Allan’s injury record is awful. Carlo was a world class manager but not now, I love his enthusiasm for Everton and his grace and class when he speaks but barring a good run at the start of the season and the Derby win it has been painful watching
Jason Li
85 Posted 18/03/2021 at 12:35:26
Ajay @80

Yes agree with you, and saw the Norwich highlights on YouTube.

Dowell did score a Premier Leaugue type of goal, very fast snappy one-two and a first time shot outside the box, brilliant. Let's hope he does well next season. If he can find ways to buy that fractional bit of extra time and space to shoot when players are faster and better at the defensive dark arts next season, he will be very decent. Always had the tools, just needs a way to get his shot off the way he wants at top level like Rodiguez when Prem players smother you in an instant.

Danny O’Neill
86 Posted 18/03/2021 at 19:02:32
Maybe not in 14 months Steve.

But in 3 years the good ones generally have brought in the ones they want, got rid of those not in their plans and retained those they think can complement the ones they brought in. Back to the much earlier points about Kendall and Ferguson.

On a totally separate note, have I read that Phil Jagielka's brother has sadly passed away aged 43?

Ralph Basnett
87 Posted 20/03/2021 at 19:59:02
We have loads of interesting (but long) comments here; in essence, I truly believe we only need Kean back and scoring for us and a midfielder with a little pace or bite to accompany Doucouré and Allan.

Lots of games – not just ours – have shown you need pace; we have none. Pace and bite in the midfield takes pressure off the defence and has the opportunity to release the front.

Easy, this management thing... and only a few short paragraphs!!!!!!

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