Whenever Everton’s 66-year stint in the top flight seems to be under threat, the statement that they are “too big to go down” is often levied. Indeed, it may not seem like it since Carlo Ancelotti was appointed, but in the first half of this season, there was a genuine danger that Everton could suffer a first top-flight relegation since 1954.
Such was Everton’s poor showing that, by the first week of December, Marco Silva was shown the Goodison Park exit door. At that point, it looked as though their season was in danger of becoming a shipwreck. However, after two weeks of negotiations, the Merseyside outfit finally got the man who they have been courting for several years in the Italian.
The Italian has a rich trophy winning pedigree in England and on the continent. With his arrival, Everton fans will be hoping to have landed the man to finally once again break through the Premier League’s top four glass ceiling.
With the arrival of the former Chelsea manager almost halfway through this current campaign, there was an acceptance that a period of bedding in may be needed. A genuine assault on the European places may have to wait until the start of a new season in August.
However, it seems as if the transformation has been quicker than expected and, with the fallout of Manchester City’s potential UEFA ban still to be decided, there is every chance that Everton could earn a very unlikely European place.
Even if a return to continental action eludes them, there is no doubt that the timing of Ancelotti’s appointment has been nothing short of a masterstroke. It is one that has similarities with the way that Leicester hired their current manager.
Last season saw the Foxes hire Brendan Rodgers with three months of the season remaining. That period gave the Ulsterman the perfect bedding in period, as he worked out which players would be staying at or departing the King Power Stadium.
With what effectively became an extended pre-season, Leicester were given the ideal opportunity to get their house in order. It is something that has paid huge dividends this time around, as the 2016 Premier League winners look set to return to the Champions League by virtue of a top four finish.
That reversal of fortunes will undoubtedly be the blueprint for Everton’s future success. AS the notion of the ‘Big six’ continues to evaporate before our very eyes, there is no reason to suggest that Carlo Ancelotti and his players cannot further upset the apple cart.
The five-month timeframe between Ancelotti’s installation and the final league game will allow the 60-year-old plenty of opportunity to run the rule over his current squad. In the past Everton have perhaps been guilty of a scattergun transfer policy, especially since the arrival of Farhad Moshiri as majority shareholder, and although recruitment mistakes have been made, you get the feeling that a lesson has finally been learned.
With that in mind, Everton supporters will already be asking themselves who their summer arrivals might be. If one potential target links up with Carlo Ancelotti again, their fanbase will have every right to be excited.
That man is none other than Colombian international James Rodriguez. The midfielder has already performed under Ancelotti’s tutelage at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Because of that, a move to Everton is not outside the realms of possibility.
There was talk of the pair being reunited at Napoli, although the move did not go through for one obvious reason. Namely that the Italians decided to dispense with the services of a man who has won Europe’s top club competition as both a player and manager.
However, it seems as if Napoli’s managerial loss will prove to be Everton’s gain. If they do manage to land 28-year-old Rodriguez, it will prove to be a real statement of intent as far as transfer dealings are concerned.
Of course, Everton remain a work in progress and have suffered false dawns in the past. Indeed, as recently as the appointments of Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva. However, with Carlo Ancelotti the early signs have been encouraging. His appointment is one that is impactful and perhaps suggests that good times will finally return to blue half of Merseyside.
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