It was unusual to receive a call from my good friend Mike at about 7:30 am while I was juggling nappies, toddlers and a mobile phone. I just about managed to make out from Mike that he was asking me if I was interested in attending a Zoom event with the University of Liverpool and Carlo Ancelotti the following evening. Naturally I jumped at the chance. As far as birthday treats go - the last of which in my 30s - it doesn't get much better than that! Thank you, Mike.

Fast-forward to the following evening and I shuffled to a quiet spot at home and logged in. The event was called The Lucrezia Zaina Bequest: In Conversation With Carlo Ancelotti. Lucrezia Zaina studied at the University of Liverpool between 1939 and 1947, before returning to lecture in French and Italian studies between 1964 and 1988, a legacy of her time at the university being an annual event in celebration of Italian culture. Professor Dame Janet Beer opened the event and, in welcoming Carlo, rightly stated that Liverpool as a city is proud to have him here.

Carlo began talking about his background, growing up peacefully on a farm, his father particularly helping him when he was younger with his calm and patient persona.

He then spoke about his rather stellar playing career and how he had to overcome knee ligament injuries in his early 20s. He spoke with pride of winning Seria A with Roma in 1983. "Mussolini was in charge the last time they had won the league. 40 years between titles so it was a big moment."

Carlo was asked if managing players had become more difficult in modern times. With typical Ancelotti modesty, he batted it back. "It's harder for players now. It is like a company, they have a lot more responsibilities and have to do a lot more things."

He was asked about the challenges faced with management in different countries. "Every country is different, the same way that every club is different," he said. "You learn from experiences of how to manage players. For example, French players can be a little lazy, the same as Italians, but this is from influences of the country. You have to take this into account, and these experiences have made me a better manager and a better man."

"It is important for players to learn the language of the country they play in. I found German very difficult to learn, but French and Spanish was a lot easier. English is difficult to learn also so I forced myself to learn. With Spanish and South American players it helps that I can speak Spanish to communicate the transmission of my idea. English people and players can be a bit lazy to learn a different language because everywhere you go people speak English."

Are football supporters alike in other countries? Not according to Carlo. "There are a lot of differences," he said. "There are different characteristics. In Italy they are passionate but this comes with fights and violence. English football doesn't go to violence. I never get insulted in England. I get insulted every day in Italy." Another thing he doesn't miss about Italy is the food, but not because he doesn't like it. "I don't miss the food because I am a good chef!" he declared.

One of the questions asked what Carlo likes about English culture. "I like the area (Crosby) a lot. People are always respectful when I'm out for a walk or on my bike. I like a peaceful life. It is more difficult to have this in Italy and Spain. Here and in Germany people respect your private life."

On to Everton matters and he was asked – What do you like about Everton? You couldn't help but smile at his response.

"I love Everton. I love the shirt. They are really nice people at the club. I like the project. They have really good tradition with their history and cups. There is a clear project towards a new stadium in 2024. We have improved and we will carry on improving. We have fantastic supporters. We have to be patient but, if we follow the project, we can achieve our goals. Next season we have to step up and improve again. It is difficult because the Premier League is very competitive."

And which modern day player would Carlo compare himself too? Spoiler alert, the answer may surprise you.

"I was not a top player. Not a top midfielder, but I was a good player. Tom Davies has the same characteristics. I had better quality technically, but he is a good player and is young and can improve."

Earlier in the call, he was asked about 2005 in Istanbul. Quite why they had to bring that up with him I don't know, though he managed to have the last laugh towards the end of the event in one of the concluding questions. He was asked if he has a stand out greatest moment in his career?

"A lot… Reggiana. It was my home team and to get them up to Seria A was my first achievement and is a great memory. And to win at Anfield with Everton was a great moment."

Carlo Ancelotti is the only Everton manager whose pre-match press conferences I make sure I catch. I really enjoy hearing from him. And to get a small flavour of this along with the many others who got to experience the event was quite a privilege, I'm sure all would agree.

I still sometimes find it incredible that Farhad Moshiri has been able to bring Carlo to Everton, and from the way Carlo talks so glowingly about our club, he's certainly in it for the long haul.

Reader Comments (17)

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Peter Mills
1 Posted 30/04/2021 at 07:51:52
Good post Paul - happy birthday!
Dave Williams
2 Posted 30/04/2021 at 08:56:29
Nice to see an article from you again, Paul. Very enjoyable and I hope you have/ had a great birthday.
Tony Everan
3 Posted 30/04/2021 at 08:58:06
Thanks for posting this, Paul, a good read. Happy birthday to you.
Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 30/04/2021 at 09:02:08
Really interesting read, Paul, thank you.

What strikes me is the value of not just managing players from different nationalities and cultures, but the importance and value of doing it in different countries. Our continental counterparts and South Americans have always been better at this. The outcome, as in Ancelotti's case is they properly understand the traits and cultural nuances of the players they are managing because they have lived and worked in their countries. They will understand the character and psyche better.

Not picking on the British, but we have never been good at encouraging our players and managers to go abroad to broaden their experience. I just wonder if that results in British managers who, yes, manage multi-national squads, but expect everyone to behave like a British player, both on and off the pitch.

Just a thought.

Great words on Tom Davies. I think Ancelotti is managing him really well and subsequently getting more out of him. Many of us have doubted Davies, myself included. So credit to those who didn't, credit to the coaching staff, and most of all, credit to the player for proving doubters wrong. I think stability is key to players like Davies and we just haven't had that in recent seasons.

Thanks again, Paul.

Ajay Gopal
5 Posted 30/04/2021 at 09:12:08
Happy birthday, Paul, I didn’t realise you are so young (will be 55 soon, myself).

Yes, Carlo is disarmingly frank - he does not have his nose up in the air (contrast him with Mourinho, for God’s sake!). His comparison to himself with Tom Davies, must be bit unsettling for Tom that Carlo does not rate him high technically. I believe Tom has a very good future with us. A midfield of Davies, Allan and Doucoure is quite dynamic while being also quite solid at protecting the back. I was hoping to see more of Gbamin this season, but he seems to be cursed at the moment!

Dave Abrahams
6 Posted 30/04/2021 at 09:20:59
Happy birthday Paul, I’ve missed your posts the last few months, I thought and hoped that you had finally hit the jackpot with your gambling on the horses and was living a life of leisure!! Nice to hear from you anyway.
Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 30/04/2021 at 09:31:06
Missed your posts too Paul. You have a very easy writing style, very readable. Happy Birthday!
Derek Knox
8 Posted 30/04/2021 at 09:43:39
A superb and interesting read and a well put together post, Paul. You know, from your erstwhile and regular posts "From My Seat" which I read, and miss, after every home match, I thought you were considerably older, than indicated in this post. I didn't think you were a Silver Surfer like myself, but had you estimated as being late 40s/50s.

Like they say, there are no pictures on a scorecard in golf; similarly there are no Birth Certificates with posts on ToffeeWeb. From an early age, and as a fairly avid reader, I suppose Charles Dickens's descriptive writing started it off in me. Not only do I try to envisage the subjects in the story, but also the Author, assuming he/she hasn't had pictures plastered everywhere as the media tend to do these days, and often 'spoil the illusion'. Take care and thanks!

Derek Thomas
9 Posted 30/04/2021 at 10:19:07
Happy Birthday, Paul; nice piece, especially the words on Davies.

The 1970 Brazil manager said, for every maestro to perform, there has to somebody to push the piano on the stage... no shame in being the piano pusher (unlike a wall pusher... allegedly).

Thomas Richards
10 Posted 30/04/2021 at 10:35:35
"There is a clear project towards a new stadium in 2024. We have improved and we will carry on improving. We have fantastic supporters. We have to be patient but, if we follow the project, we can achieve our goals."

That'll do me.

Derek Knox
11 Posted 30/04/2021 at 10:36:44
Paul, how remiss of me, I forgot to wish you Many Happy Returns, and just realised 'From My Seat' was Ken Buckley but I know you posted regularly on Matchday Experiences, so apologies there.

Derek T, 'Piano Pusher' always remind me of the old PG Tips adverts where the Chimps were the stars, and I thought very well put together, with the Wardrobe Department excelling too. Do you know the "Piano is on my Foot ?" " No, but if you hum it, I'll Play it! :-) Classic!

Rob Halligan
12 Posted 30/04/2021 at 10:42:37
Good article Paul. Your last paragraph might not go down too well with one or two posters though!

P.S Happy birthday Paul, and I doubt there are not too many older than Mr Knox. 😄😄😄

David Pearl
14 Posted 30/04/2021 at 10:46:07
Excellent Paul
Happy Birthday
Tony Everan
15 Posted 30/04/2021 at 11:13:07
On the subject of birthday treats, my younger brother was 53 on Saturday and played for Cambridge over 50s against England over 50s. He scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw. He is full of himself now with the claim he has scored against England in a competitive match.
Gerry Quinn
16 Posted 30/04/2021 at 11:51:07
What differentiates Carlo from most of the other Managers is his honesty - re-Tom Davies, re-Crosby, re-Everton, etc. He does come across truly genuine in his comments and mannerisms. We are a lucky club to have him and I hope all of his Everton dreams come true - as will ours too.

PS Happy Birthday Paul, nice article

John Raftery
17 Posted 30/04/2021 at 16:57:00
Thanks for the report Paul and Happy Birthday! Few people in football seem to have a negative word to say about Carlo. Likewise he generally speaks positively about others, as much as his position allows him to. He is certainly a great ambassador for Crosby and Merseyside as a whole

His contributions at the General Meeting of Shareholders in January 2020 suggested he was at the club for the long haul. Everything we have heard from him since then has confirmed that early impression. In football terms he is a statesman with the experience and wisdom garnered from years playing and managing across Europe at the top level.

Jay Wood

18 Posted 30/04/2021 at 18:14:36
Thank you for the heads up on this Paul.

For anyone interested, you can view and listen to the entire hour long Q&A on UoL's site. Fast forward to around the 12 minute mark to get beyond the introductions to when Carlo appears. A good listen.

Carlo's University of Liverpool Full interview

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