Ancelotti has Everton looking up as 2020 beckons

By Lyndon Lloyd 28/12/2019 22comments  |  Jump to last

It’s six days since Carlo Ancelotti took his first training session as Everton’s new manager. Thanks to the opportunity of two games in the space of as many days, he already has six points on the board and, depending on what happens between Arsenal and Manchester United Chelsea tomorrow, the Blues could be starting 2020 in the top half of the Premier League table.

That feels like an awfully far cry from how Evertonians were feeling on the 5th of December following a third successive defeat and humiliation in the Merseyside derby that had left the club sitting in the relegation zone with three more of the “big six” still to play in successive games.

Duncan Ferguson, of course, played his part, rousing a squad depleted of personnel and morale to a win and a draw before Farhad Moshiri landed one of the biggest fish possible as Marco Silva’s successor.

It’s very early days but the contrasts between the vastly experienced Italian and a comparative novice in the form of the Portuguese are already evident, not least in terms of tactical shifts and game management, both of which elements lay at the heart of this 2-1 victory at St James’s Park.

It’s hard not to draw the distinctions between this result and the corresponding fixture on this ground last season. On both occasions, Everton were winning 2-1 with 25 minutes to go but where, in March, Silva’s side collapsed in the final 10 minutes and went on to lose a match they had been leading 2-0, this time Ancelotti’s charges held on in disciplined and increasingly assured fashion to secure the points.

It was a mostly professional away performance, particularly after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had slid the ball home to put Everton back in front after Fabian Schär had cancelled out his first-half opener. Ancelotti had initially withdrawn the tiring Moise Kean in favour of Fabian Delph with an hour gone but the manager proceeded to add Seamus Coleman for the willing but often ineffective Theo Walcott — Djibril Sidibé was pushed forward into right midfield as part of the reshuffle — and then Yerry Mina for Leighton Baines with 10 minutes left to deal with the aerial threat of Andy Carroll.

The veteran striker had already set up the equaliser with a largely uncontested header from a set-piece 11 minutes into the second half and with Everton conceding a number of frustratingly unnecessary fouls in dangerous areas of the pitch, a player capable of competing with Carroll was a welcome addition. It helped the visitors lock down the game and ensure that Steve Bruce’s Magpies lost on home turf for the first time since August.

With such a short turnaround between this fixture and the home game against Burnley on Boxing Day, Ancelotti made five changes to his starting XI, bringing in Baines, Michael Keane, Walcott, Tom Davies and Kean but there appeared to be little disruption from the display against the Clarets. Aside from the first couple of exchanges, where Miguel Almíron poked a shot wide and Joelinton shot weakly at Jordan Pickford, Everton would dominate the first 25 minutes, hogging almost 70% of the ball, and a spell of pressure that began in the 10th minute eventually told.

Gylfi Sigurdsson and Baines exchanged passes from a short corner routine which ended with the fullback swinging a deep cross to the back post where Kean made contact, Richarlison found the goal blocked by the goalkeeper and a defender so he laid it back to Mason Holgate but his side-foot shot was saved one-handed by Martin Dubravka who then bundled the ball behind as Calvert-Lewin tried to turn it home.

Keane was fortunate to be awarded another corner when he headed the subsequent corner off his shoulder and over the bar and when that set-piece was cleared, Baines was clattered outside the area by Almíron.

Sigurdsson’s direct free-kick cannoned back to him off the defensive wall, his shot on the rebound deflected off a defender and fell to Calvert-Lewin in front of goal and he picked his spot beyond Dubravka.

Everton had their tails up and Kean showed his turn of pace to race forward and cut the ball back for Walcott but his shot was blocked and the former Gunner might have expected someone to get on the end of his dangerous ball into the six-yard box that skidded across the face of goal and behind.

In between, Joelinton picked up a Carroll flick-on but Pickford saved near his right-hand post while Calvert-Lewin was sent sprawling by Fernandez in the box but nothing was given by the officials.

While Everton had been in confident mood for the first half of the first period, they relinquished the hold they had on the contest after that and Newcastle began to come more and more into the game.

Skillful work by Jetro Willems tied Walcott in knots and helped him evade Sidibé to centre for Almíron around 10 yards out but the Paraguayan’s shot came back off the post to Carroll who turned the loose ball in but was flagged offside.

Isaac Hayden volleyed narrowly over the crossbar from Holgate’s clearance, Pickford beat Schär’s powerful drive away, Florian Lejeune curled an effort over and Almíron had the last chance of the half when he was played into space by Joelinton but he sliced his shot into the stands as Holgate came across to cover.

Everton emerged from the half-time interval keen to reestablish some momentum and they had an early chance through Kean who knocked the ball past his man in the box but a touch too close the keeper who close him down and blocked his shot. The Italian striker then sprinted away following Keane’s clearance at one end but Dubravka saved his low shot shortly before Newcastle equalised.

A soft decision by referee Lee Mason to award the hosts a free kick for Walcott’s raised leg on Willems set up a free-kick wide on the Magpies’ left which was lofted to Carroll at the back post where he rose above Sigurdsson to nod it down and Schär swept the ball first time inside Pickford’s far post.

The pendulum could have swung decisively in Newcastle’s favour at this point but it was Everton who threatened to score next and who went close through Kean whose half-volley was saved fairly comfortably by Dubravka before Holgate had a goal of his own waved away by the offside flag.

Just eight minutes after Bruce’s side had equalised, however, the visitors regained the lead. Richarlison won the ball back in midfield after he’d initially given it away with a loose flick, Walcott played him in down the right flank and the Brazilian surged past his marker into the area and slipped a teasing ball across for Calvert-Lewin who just needed to make solid enough contact to steer it over the goal line.

It was another reward for a player who, along with his Brazilian strike partner and the wonderfully versatile Holgate, has risen to the challenge these past few weeks and delivered on a consistent basis.

With a win that represents Everton’s 11th points from a possible 15 since Silva was sacked, things are certainly looking up for the Blues as they look ahead to 2020. With 22 shots on goal to add to the 21 they registered against Burnley, there is no shortage of attacking endeavour in the team now.

Ancelotti rightly pointed out afterwards that his team can and need to play better football and he was disappointed with the way they ceded the initiative back to Newcastle in the first half but he will be justifiably pleased with his return of maximum points so far.

The trip to Manchester City on New Year’s Day and the FA Cup date Anfield beyond pose altogether more difficult propositions but Evertonians will travel to both games with a good deal more confidence that their side can produce something on the home ground of the fading Champions and their apparent heits than would have been the case under Ancelotti’s predecessor.

There’s a long way to go with some key parts of the side that the new boss will eventually want to improve but the way things are going, it could be a happy new year after all.

Follow @EFCLyndon

Reader Comments (22)

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Mat Thompson
1 Posted 28/12/2019 at 00:11:44
Thought Baines was class, as he’s always been, what a player we’ve been lucky to have
Kase Chow
2 Posted 29/12/2019 at 01:29:34
Really happy with

1) Back to back wins
2) only 1 goal conceded
3) once Newcastle got their equaliser, instead of collapsing we went on to win (witness the Leicester collapse and Jamie Carragher’s nasty (albeit true) comments)
4) over 20 shots on goal in last 2 matches this is important the 1st goal today came as a result of Siggy’s shot we made our own luck. Something that all the best teams do. Clearly this seems to be a change / instruction from the new boss and it’s already reaping results. We may even start seeing a few goals from outside the area?!?
5) so nice to play 2 up front again rather than 1 man isolated. Incredible how Duncan addresses this immediately and CA continued it but Silva never tried it even once
6) the team seen mentally stronger, more of a unit and more resilient

Buzzing at the moment after months and months of depression

C’mon Everton!!!

Mat #1

Baines is one of my favourite ever Everton players

Paul Birmingham
3 Posted 29/12/2019 at 02:59:21
Great Day, to celebrate the new era for EFC! Shuperb result.
Clarence Yurcan
4 Posted 29/12/2019 at 03:36:54
God bless you, Mr. Ancelotti.

I love you

Jason Broome
5 Posted 29/12/2019 at 04:00:30
You're right Lyndon, it's incredible how my optimism has been restored since Silva left. It really feels like the clouds have parted.

As for the team... well done. The quality is finally showing.

I hope that January brings in more surprises and a few exciting names.

Jay Harris
6 Posted 29/12/2019 at 04:27:08
Thought it was a class act from the manager today. The half time team talk ensured we were back on the front foot again second half and the in game management was light years ahead of the Silva experiment.
Jerome Shields
7 Posted 29/12/2019 at 07:48:51
Ancelotti has shown ablity. There are still areas to improve and as in this game they will become apparent in future games.

Ancelotti has been able to turn around the performance of most of the players, though there are a few stragglers. There is still the legacy of past managers, which fortunately Brands has been addressing and now Ancelotti will be helping him with.

It is now obvious it was too big of a job for Silva. It will be interesting to see the changes at Finch Farm and what Moshiri next move will be regarding the internal management of the Club. Ancelotti knows that change has to be both on and off the pitch to achieve his objectives.

Moshiri must have convinced him there was a willness or plan to do this, for Ancelotti to decide to join Everton.

Denis Richardson
8 Posted 29/12/2019 at 09:23:46
Hats off to Moshiri for pulling out the stops and getting Ancelotti in.

2020 looks a lot better now with us looking up the table and not down. Top 6 not an unrealistic target I’d say with still half the season to go.

If he can get us past the 3rd round of the FA cup and to the final and win, the guy will get legend status.

Tony Everan
9 Posted 29/12/2019 at 09:37:09
Excellent report as usual Lyndon, I picked up on the word 'consistent'. It is an innocuous word but it is the holy grail to become real top class footballer.

Consistency from DCL and Mason Holgate proves they are the real deal.

I was well impressed with Richarlison yesterday, a great assist. I particularly liked his last 10 minute spell, fighting for the ball, getting down the flanks, winning corners. All when Newcastle were desperate to get long balls into our box. This passage of play and led by the determination of Richarlison was superb in breaking up play and relieving pressure on our defence. True, he needs more accuracy in his midfield passing but that will improve.

More often than not such players tire , can disappear for the last 5-10 mins and pray for the final whistle, so top marks for Richarlison for being top class at the end of the game. Impressive stuff, such commitment is infectious and bodes well for this team.

Paul Kennedy
10 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:05:28
I am almost embarrassed to say it but we are 7 points off the Champions League places! A mad season.
Jimmy Hogan
11 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:09:17
As my non-Everton supporting friend said a month ago, "you've got the players there, you just need a decent manager".
Robert Tressell
12 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:17:16
Very pleasing to have someone to come in who is so experienced. As long as Ancelotti is properly backed then he should be a success. Interesting news that Monaco have sacked Jardim. He seemed like a goid fit a couple of weeks ago - but not now. Ancelotti seems to have fit right in.
Peter Mills
13 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:22:50
I don’t think there will be many players hiding on the pitch under this manager.

He seems to be a very supportive guy, but one who sees everything that is going on. He will wither a shirker from 20 paces with a raise of his left eyebrow.

Francis van Lierop
14 Posted 29/12/2019 at 12:47:28
Another positive from yesterday's game is that we can now do rotation as well.
I can remember how poorly we'd do on the Sunday after an Europa League match under Moyes.

Most positive how well the younger players have stood up.
Starting with yesterday's MotM DCL. together woth Mason Holgate, Tom Davies,Richarlison, and an improved Moise Kean, we have the nucleus of a good team.

The only thing still missing is a Moise Kean goal.

Eleven points from the last five games, only one team has a better haul.

And they were the fixtures most were dreading under Silva.

Martin Mason
15 Posted 29/12/2019 at 12:58:05
For once I was very pleased with Sigurdsson although he did have a bad patch when Newcastle came back into the game. Am I harsh in thinking that Michael Keane struggles to make the grade? He seems slow, especially on the turn. What can you say though when we have quality of the level of Mason and DCL at such a low cost. Moise Kean could make it too, he had a fair game yesterday. Liverpool at Anfield will be a different kettle of fish though, as long as we avoid the ritual humiliation though.
Denis Richardson
16 Posted 29/12/2019 at 15:27:44
Amazing difference a world class manager can make. Back to back wins and finally looking up not down the table. The R word can well and truly be binned. Away win on the board only 2 games in. DCL playing like a new player and finally scoring. Just amazing.

Will be an interesting game on Weds but regardless of result, the players seem totally different compared to a few weeks ago. They can now get a few days rest and enter 2020 with confidence sky high.

If Ancelotti can get the current squad playing better, I wonder if there’s any chance he can get some of the misfits on loan to play like they did before we signed them.

Hats off to Moshiri for pulling our the stops on this one. Top 6 is certainly a target still - even after the debacle of Silva.

Paul Jones
17 Posted 29/12/2019 at 23:50:00
The appointment of Silva was the football equivalent of the " Emperor being sold new clothes " as have been some of our signings. With the appointment of Ancelotti let us hope the turn to a sensible proven football direction continues.

Bob Parrington
18 Posted 29/12/2019 at 00:15:29
There has been an impressive fluidity in the team for the last two games and not so many occurrences of our players getting in each others way/going for the same ball etc. - in many ways, the play seems a lot calmer and under control, even professional.

Surely Carlo hasn't had time to drum this in to the players in such a short time. Perhaps, as has been mentioned by others already on here, the players have the skills but they respect the new manager!

Baines was excellent yesterday, as was Holgate once again. DCL put in a great effort and performance, as did Richarlison. Good team performance.

It was good to see Moise Kean get a start. I thought he did quite well, although occasionally, he looked a little lost after an Everton attack had broken down well up the pitch. More game time please for him - he looks like he has it in him to do very well.

BTW, has anybody on here heard about Manure putting in an offer of 80m pds for Richarlison? Trifling sum for such a player, who has just signed a new contract! The only comment on this I have heard was made by one of the match commentators yesterday. IMO - If true, this is where we show we mean business - NOT FOR SALE!

Tony Abrahams
19 Posted 30/12/2019 at 11:41:12
I never saw anything of the Newcastle game, I haven’t saw much of Moise Kean, since he came to Everton, but agree with Martin, when he says he could make it, which I assume means to the very top?

I’m basing this on just one movement at Anfield when he should have scored, but the way his first touch and pace left Liverpool’s defence for dead, is not something I’ve seen off many Everton strikers, in all my years watching the blues?

Benjamin Dyke
21 Posted 30/12/2019 at 18:26:39
There is so much to like about Ancelotti right now! The way he kept Ferguson on, saw what he had done right and just persisted with it, no doubt with a few tweaks, was so intelligent. The reactive management during the game. And then the way he talked about the match afterwards and didn't shy away from the things that weren't great
I'm so pleased Silva's regime feels a thing of the past already...well done Ferguson and well done Ancelotti
Gerry Quinn
22 Posted 02/01/2020 at 16:25:59
Talking of Managers, I wonder if this guy will do any good in his new job?

Former Everton midfielder Li Tie has been appointed as head coach of the China National Team.

The 42-year-old succeeds Italian Marcello Lippi, who quit the job for a second time in November after a 2-1 defeat by Syria in a 2022 World Cup qualifier.

Li made 92 appearances for China and played at the 2002 World Cup.

He initially joined Everton on loan in 2002 and featured in 40 matches under then manager David Moyes, before a move to Sheffield United in 2006.

Li played just one game for the Blades before returning to China in 2008.

After retiring from playing in 2011, Li was the assistant coach of Guangzhou Evergrande and China, before taking over at Hebei Fortune and then Wuhan Zall.

Most recently, he led a China reserve side to the East Asian Championships in South Korea in December.

Steve Ferns
23 Posted 02/01/2020 at 16:47:57
Gerry, I remember Li Tie coming to Goodison in March 2014 (had to look the date up). He came with his daughter who was very proudly sporting her (full) Everton kit. Li Tie always seemed to be a great ambassador for Everton and this appointment will give him another platform from which to become relevant once more to his nation and hopefully remind the Chinese that he played for us. I wish him luck, and hope that it helps boost our status in China once more. I would hope there's a young player or two we could bring over, as there must be some talent out there who we can bring over to boost our popularity in China.

Perhaps we can sign that highly rated Jiang Guangtai as we need another centre-back. (Sorry Mike Gaynes, couldn't resist it!).

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

About these ads

© ToffeeWeb