At the beginning of December it was very gloomy around Goodison Park in the midst of Marco Silva being sacked and Everton flirting with relegation. The prospect of the club being relegated for the first time in almost 70 years looked very real indeed. But the board acted and have done extremely well and now Everton have one of the best managers in world football.
The change was made by sacking Silva and whilst no one truly wishes the sack on any manager Silva’s time at Everton had been very average indeed. One could say he had 3 good months from 16, and true the club finished last season well enough but there were plenty of cracks in the club and it was amazing in the end that Silva lasted 4 months of the new season.
Naturally Duncan Ferguson stepped in as caretaker manager and whilst Ancelotti is now getting the plaudits, the roots of Everton’s upturn this season are from Ferguson. An ex-Everton player who garners respect from the players, the fans love him and Ferguson became an instant hit with them. The images of him celebrating with the ball boys when Everton scored against Chelsea and then beat them will live in the memory banks for Everton fans for some time.
Once Everton appointed Ancelotti so soon after, one could be forgiven for thinking that Everton were doing just fine with Ferguson, but the Scotsman even admitted that he wasn’t the one for the job long term and that the club had to bring in a world class manager and they did just that.
The first thing Ancelotti got right was to keep Ferguson on as his assistant- the Italian realised off the bat that Ferguson is adored at the club and is rightly a club legend, and that has really helped with Ancelotti’s smooth trajectory into the club. Plus being under Ancelotti will surely make Ferguson a better coach and he could well be managing the club he loves so dearly sometime in the future.
But Everton look a completely different side under Ancelotti. They are winning games again and have climbed 10 places to 7th now. The football isn’t always pretty and Ancelotti will have to let some players go and bring in some quality in the summer but the team are heading in the right direction. There has only been one low point and that was losing to Liverpool’s youngsters in the FA Cup.
At the weekend Everton sailed past Crystal Palace winning 3-1 and the club now have 36 points and are five clear of Arsenal who is their next opponent in a few weeks time.
Can Everton finish in a European position, that is the question now being asked. And for some they don’t mean the Europa League. Everton should be kicking themselves now for allowing Newcastle to come back to 2-2 after they were leading 2-0 the other week deep into injury time. Had that been a win Everton would be on 39 points and just two points shy of 4th place Chelsea.
There is an uphill task to get the Champions League of course with the likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and Sheffield United trying to push Chelsea out of the way. Inevitably it will be the team who gets the most consistent in the next few months who will get 4th place and by no means will it be Chelsea if they continue their inconsistent form.
But if Everton do reach the Europa League, what a turnaround of a season it would have been for the club, and it just goes to show how important it is getting the right manager in.
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