With Everton re-starting the season in 12th place, and where do you think sort of Carlo Ancellotti will be looking to finish to consider him having made a solid start to the job?
It's a difficult one because it’s frenetic at the top half of the Premier League. I think he has got to be wondering how close he can get to the Top Six, or at least the Top Eight. That would be a good consolidation of his start, given he only came into the club halfway through the season. He’ll have found out a lot about his players in this uncertain time. Finishing in the top half of the table would provide a platform from which to push on next season.
How big a coup was it for Everton to secure the services of Carlo Ancellotti in the first place?
It was a major major major signing - probably one of the most important signings Everton has ever made. He is the first manager they have had in recent years who has come in with a truly impressive track record. He has been at some of the biggest clubs in world football and he has had success wherever he has gone – Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich and AC Milan. His pedigree is not in question. His CV is embarrassingly good.
Up to now, Everton had the owner, the fanbase and the machinery to be a big club – but there have been question marks over recent managers. Ancellotti is a real upgrade and I think they can make a real challenge for the top. Everton want to get to a point where they have three or four top players fighting it out for two places at the top of the pitch.
What do make of the rumours of Thiago Silva joining Everton from PSG? Is that the type of player Everton should be looking to attract, or does that send the message that Everton is somewhere to come for a final payday?
Thiago Silva is a winner – it’s disrespectful to say he’d go anywhere for a payday. He’s captained Brazil, he’s captained PSG – he has played at the very top level for a very long time. When you look at Everton’s defence, it’s clear that it could do with a bit of experience. He’s been through successful league seasons at PSG – he’ll go that extra mile for you and has the experience to know when a player needs calming down or when he needs a kick up the backside. Don’t forget that Carlo Ancellotti has managed him at PSG, so he knows what he’d be bringing into the ranks and he’s benefit young defenders like Holgate being in and around the dressing room.
How big a gesture was it by the playing squad to defer 50% of their wages to protect the roles of the non-playing staff?
It was a fantastic gesture by the players – they recognise it’s for the greater good. It makes the fanbase proud of the players – they recognise this whole situation is bigger than them. They have developed a ‘we’ mentality. Carlo Ancellotti at the helm would demand this type of classy behaviour and it bodes well for the better things to come in the future.
Everton celebrated the 25th anniversary of their last trophy win in lockdown, the 1995 FA Cup. Do you think Carlo Ancellotti can be the man to finally break this long trophy drought?
I think he has to be for the club, given the failures of other managers who were well backed. He needs to make adjustments to the team and the squad and it won’t happen overnight. The fans of The Blues will have to be patient. But if anyone can do it, Carlo Ancellotti can – he is a perennial winner. If he can mould this squad in his image, I have no doubt he can win things.
Do you think the Goodison Park faithful work like to see Carlo target a trophy next season or European qualification?
A trophy, without a shadow of a doubt. European football is great, but if you qualify and go on a decent run it can become a false economy as you fall into the Thursday and Sunday habit and it can impact your league form. Carlo needs to build the squad to be capable of competing on two fronts. For a club like Everton, realistically there are two trophies you can target to win and they are the domestic cups. Winning one of those would be a solid foundation, would provide the platform for more success and bring the taste for silverware back to the blue half of Merseyside.