Everton is one of the biggest and most famous clubs in English football. The proud old club has existed since 1878 and has finished in first place in the country’s top-flight on nine occasions. They’ve also won the FA Cup five times, and the old European Cup Winner’s Cup once. By the standards of most football clubs, that’s an impressive track record. Unfortunately for Everton, they have Liverpool for neighbors. They’ve spent almost their entire existence in the shadow of the Anfield side when it comes to success, and never will that contrast have seemed as stark as it was last season when Liverpool ran away with the Premier League championship. That victory only further confirmed the gulf in class between the two sides. The last time Everton won a trophy of any kind was in 1995. It’s been a long 25 years since then.
Despite that, fans of the Toffees are feeling more optimistic right now than they have at any point since the formation of the English Premier League in 1992. After spending much of that time bouncing between the middle and lower end of the table, they finally seem to be moving in the right direction. The appointment of legendary coach Carlo Ancelotti has done much to feed that sense of optimism. Ancelotti has been a winner wherever he’s gone in his long career, and he was brought to the club to bring in a new era of success. Such was the poor state of the team when he took the reigns in the middle of last season, he didn’t have much chance to stamp his impression on it. One frenetic summer of transfer activity later, and Everton suddenly looks like a whole different animal.
Throwing money at players and making wholesale changes is a risky business for a football team. It’s a risky business in any walk of life. Bringing multiple players in at once is a gamble, and as anyone who’s thrown big money at an online slots game will tell you, big spenders don’t always walk away with the biggest profits. You might spend four hundred dollars on an online slots game like ‘Football Star Deluxe’ and win less than someone who spent forty. Luck plays its part, and in football, you can negatively impact your own luck by changing too many things at once. We have no idea whether or not Carlo Ancelotti is a regular visitor to online slots websites such as OnlineSlotsUK, but what we can say with some certainty is that he’s a cautious gambler. The board made it clear to him that he could, within reason, have spent money however he wished to this summer. He didn’t do that. Rather than buying a whole new team, Ancelotti focused on the midfield. It would be foolish to infer too much about the club’s prospects this early on in the season, but if the first couple of games are anything to go by, it was the right move.
Anyone who watched Everton regularly last season might have been surprised at Ancelotti’s focus on the midfield. There also appeared to be gaping holes in the side’s defense and attack departments, and most fans expected both to be strengthened. Ancelotti saw something different. By signing Allan, he’s given the team a creative, attacking outlet that reduces some of the burdens on Richarlison. By landing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid on a free transfer, he’s made a statement of intent that’s almost as big as the one the club made by appointing him as head coach. Allan bolstered the forward line, but Rodriguez is a creator, a goal threat, and a link between attack and midfield of the kind that most Premier League clubs dream of. He’s arguably the first world-class player to turn out for Everton since Wayne Rooney in his younger years.
Signings aren’t the only thing that made Everton a different proposition this term. Ancelotti’s arrival appears to have had a marked impact on the performances and form of young English striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had long been talked about as a prospect but appeared to be in danger of failing to live up to the hype at the age of 23. If a player is going to ‘make it’ in the big time, they usually start to show signs of doing so by the age of 21. Calvert-Lewin has, in the past, shone in patches but struggled to sustain the kind of form that might see him break into the senior England team. He seems to have it now. Just as Raheem Sterling became a complete footballer when Pep Guardiola took him under his wing at Manchester City, Calvert-Lewin looks to have picked something up from Ancelotti that he lacked before. Everton didn’t need to go out and buy a big-money striker. They already had the right man within their ranks; he just needed to be handled the right way.
With so much positivity among the ranks and results going their way at the start of the season, fans of the Toffees desperately want to believe that this might be the year that they break into the top four. That might be a big ask. The difference between finishing within the top six and the top four in the Premier League is colossal. Any upper mid-tier side can break into the top six occasionally. Reaching the Champions League places is much, much harder, and only elite clubs need to apply. Liverpool and Manchester City will surely occupy two of those spaces by default. Chelsea will fancy themselves for one of the remaining two positions, as will Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United. Leicester City certainly won’t be ruling themselves out either. On paper, Everton could beat any of those teams on their day, but doing so over the course of 38 games is a bigger challenge. It remains to be seen whether they’re up to it, and the erratic form of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford may have to be addressed if they’re going to pass the stern tests to come.
We don’t want to pour water on Everton’s ambitions, though. This is quite simply the best Everton side we’ve seen in the past twenty years, and the sky is the limit for them. They have the right coach, and they appear to have most of the right players in the right positions. If they can make all of those elements gel, they might just upset the Premier League’s established order. Good luck to them.