When EPL club Everton announced the recruitment of Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti, there were a few raised eyebrows. This was a man who had won three Champions League titles and a bunch of other trophies at elite clubs such as AC Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. Now he was heading to a club facing a relegation battle in the Premier League.
Everton might claim to be an elite club themselves. After all, they have won nine English league titles, five FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup. But their last trophy came 25 years ago and they have not been contenders for a league title in more than 30.
Chasing past glory
In recent years, the club has made efforts to return to glory, appointing a succession of highly-rated coaches including Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva, and spending around £500m in the process. Martinez led the club to a fifth-place finish and their best points tally in 27 years. He also took them to two cup semi-finals and the Last 16 of the Europa League but he was eventually sacked just before the end of the 2015/16 season with the club in 12th place.
Subsequent managers have failed to live up the standard set by Martinez which begs the questions: Why he was sacked in the first place? And what will Ancelotti have to do to be considered a success at Goodison Park?
In a recent interview with TalkSPORT, owner Farhad Moshiri stated: “Look, Everton is a very, very difficult job in football because you’re two home losses from being disowned by fans.” And therein lies part of the problem: Everton fans are very quick to turn on managers who do not live up to their expectations. In that respect, the appointment of Ancelotti looks like a massive gamble for a club who were among the candidates for relegation in the football betting odds until very recently.
And it’s not just the performances on the pitch that draws harsh judgement from the faithful. Koeman was derided for posting a picture of his Christmas tree, resplendent with red baubles (the colour of arch-rivals Liverpool), on Twitter. It prompted so much anger, he was quickly forced to post a picture of another tree without any red decorations. From that moment on, it seemed like he and the fans could not wait to be parted.
With big money spent and an ambitious new £500m stadium project announced, Everton and their backers need a return on investment. The next club accounts are expected to feature significant losses and further spending could see them breach Financial Fair Play rules. As a result, the new boss may be forced to operate on a smaller budget than his predecessors.
Question marks remain
However, there is a huge question mark over the Italian’s ability to bring success to a team from such a low starting point. From Parma through to Napoli, he has always taken over teams already primed for success. At some, such as Parma, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Napoli, he failed to live up to expectations. And in his 25-year coaching career, he has only won four league titles, a poor return considering the clubs he has managed.
What looks like a solid appointment on paper, could be the last throw of the dice for a club whose desperation for success has often proved to be their own downfall.