In a Sky Sports exclusive, Jamie Carragher sat down with Carlo Ancelotti in the Match Zone to talk about his first two months at Everton ahead of their meeting with Manchester United at Goodison Park.
Ancelotti touches on his desire to lead the club into Europe, the emergence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison as a dominant strikeforce in the Premier League and the importance of Andre Gomes’ return from injury after his horrific leg break.
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Since he was appointed just before Christmas, Everton have the third-best record in the league behind Liverpool and Manchester City, have scored the third-most goals, and shown real signs of progress on the pitch.
It means they go into their big clash with United, live on Renault Super Sunday, knowing that victory would put them right back in the mix for European qualification at the end of the season.
Carlo Ancelotti on his Everton experience so far
“There is a really nice atmosphere and competition. I’m really pleased to be here. It’s an informal city and I like that. I’m trying to get used to the weather… but the club is really well organised and the structure is really good. We are working really well and it’s a good place to work. We have good ambition and day by day we try to improve.”
Everton vs Man Utd
March 1, 2020, 1:00pm
On the club’s ambition to compete with ‘big six’
“This is the target of the club, to be competitive with these types of teams. In the past we haven’t been and we have to try to be. I think we can be competitive and we were with Arsenal. But to be competitive we have to understand we cannot make these easy mistakes. With the style of play that we use we show that we can be competitive, but you have to perform a complete game if you want to compete at this level. A complete game is no mistakes defensively and to be efficient offensively.
“I would like to bring Everton to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool for first position, with Chelsea and the other clubs. Europe is really important and exciting, whether it’s Champions League or Europa League, and I would like to be there when Everton play these type of games.”
On his footballing philosophies
“I like teams that can play direct and we have the capability to do that. You don’t have to spend lots of time in possession, when it’s possible to attack directly you do and the easiest way to score goals is via counter-attack. You have to be able to use the ball and be efficient in possession.
“I don’t ask the players to keep the ball a lot as the only reason to keep the ball is to find a player who is free and can attack. There were examples against Arsenal when we could play the ball through the line and the ball over the line – this is what I ask the players to do.”
On Everton’s success in front of goal under his management
“The idea is to try to attack and play attacking football. This is normal and it’s also because we have fantastic strikers. We have scored a lot of goals because the performances of our two strikers in Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison has been really good since I arrived. They’ve done really well. I was not surprised because I knew about them but they are performing really well.
“After that we are trying to play football that our support find enjoyable. I recognise the big history and the big tradition, so when I came here I had to consider that.”
On Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s strike partnership
“I think that the characteristic of the two strikers suits playing 4-4-2. They are playing well together.
“Richarlison can also play on the right or the left because he is a really powerful player and sometimes I have used him on the right or left, but I think his quality is to play upfront, he is a complete striker.
“Also because Richarlison is used to moving from one side to the other and I want him to be creative. I’m not going to give him really special instructions. Defensively, yes, but offensively he is quite free.
“Dominic is a player who has to play at centre forward. He cannot play, in my opinion, on the left or the right because he’s really strong in front of goal.”
On the duo’s ceiling
“They are both really hungry and they have a lot of quality. In my opinion, they can go to the top. They are not yet at the top but they can get there. They have everything: power, speed and strong physically.
“Richarlison is also able to play at a high-intensity for a long time. They are really complete and it’s fortunate for Everton to have these kind of young players. You have to consider also that unfortunately these affect the chances of Moise Kean to get more game-time as he is also a top striker.”
On Mason Holgate’s improvement
“I didn’t know him very well, but he’s doing so well. He’s a great defender and he’s focused – he has everything. He’s good with his head, good one-on-one and good with the ball. As I’ve said before, I am old style and the defender has to defend, the goalkeeper has to save the goal. Now in football it has changed and the goalkeeper has to be good with his feet.
“I ask sometimes for the defenders to take little risks, to pass the ball between lines because it’s important. Mason is really good at this and so is Michael Keane. Where Yerry Mina, for example, who is a fantastic defender, has to improve is being able to, with one pass, beat one line of pressure. This is what I ask of defenders.”
On Andre Gomes’ return
“I am really pleased but of course I’m not going to push him to play. I said to him, ‘think about what you’re doing in training and whether you’re comfortable or not, then if you’re comfortable you have to know that the team really need you’.
“As a player with his quality, but also as a man with his experience and character. He started really well against Arsenal and in the next game he could be a really important player because he gave us more quality.
“Maybe he can start [against Man Utd]. He did well and I think he could start. But as I said, if it was entirely up to me he would start. But I’m not in his mind. I know what a player thinks when he is injured because I was injured for one year. I preferred to play and when I played from the start, I said, ‘oh maybe I should have stayed on the bench because I wasn’t comfortable’. When you’re out for a long time you lose the control a bit and the rhythm of the game.”
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