Everton verdict – Carlo Ancelotti has found perfect ‘Plan B’ at just the right time

Read more at www.liverpoolecho.co.uk

One of Carlo Ancelotti’s predecessors at Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri, was rather famously known as “The Tinkerman” for years during his time in the Premier League.

But, over the last few weeks, the Everton boss could easily have laid a claim to that moniker – with his desperate desire to find something that works for his struggling side.

Injuries to key players kept cropping up and the Italian was forced to change not just his personnel, but also keep altering his system to find that formula.

He perhaps finally stumbled upon an answer at Goodison Park on Saturday evening against his former side. A “plan B” that Everton have been desperately searching for.

Perhaps he might have taken a little inspiration from the last time Chelsea made the visit to Goodison Park, when the hosts found themselves in a similar conundrum.

On that occasion Duncan Ferguson ditched the five-at-the-back that the recently departed Marco Silva had attempted to introduce in his final matches in charge and decisively took things back to basics.

Two banks of four, two influential strikers in front of them. Above all else, put the amount of effort in that Everton fans expect and work hard for each other on the pitch.

It was a simplistic view in a sense but it was a breath of fresh air Everton desperately needed at the time. They instantly saw the benefits from the switch and didn’t look back for some time.

This was along the same lines for Ancelotti, but not exactly identical.

The system on this occasion was a little modified as Everton faced a slightly different problem. With both of their starting full backs injured, the boss has been trying to make things as compact as possible at the back for weeks.

*Who has been Everton’s Footballer of the Year? Cast your vote HERE.

His latest change saw Everton line up with all four of their senior central defenders together, with Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate taking the places on the left and right flanks respectively.

A conservative approach? Perhaps. A necessary one? Absolutely.

What Everton lost going forward from those positions, they gained a much better unit when out of possession to form a wall in front of Jordan Pickford.

In front of them was another flat four in Alex Iwobi, Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Richarlison.

Their task was clear. Work hard, protect the back four whenever necessary and get the ball up to pitch quickly to turn Chelsea onto the back foot whenever there was a turnover.

It was simple, direct, passionate and – most importantly – effective.

In front of those you had Gylfi Sigurdsson playing a role much more natural to him, behind the striker and using his energy to support in whatever way he could. His coolly-taken penalty in the first half capped a fine 45-minute display from someone who so often divides opinion among the wider fanbase.

Gylfi Sigurdsson of Everton celebrates his goal

And, what more can you say about Dominic Calvert-Lewin? He embodies the kind of work rate Evertonians want to see from their side on so many occasions.

Even with the amazing alteration he has shown throughout the course of the last 12 months in front of goal, he hasn’t allowed that aspect of his game to fall by the wayside at all.

Across the side it was clear to see that they had reacted to the change in system and plan. They looked more comfortable in their set roles and they were determined to work hard for a result.

This is exactly what Ancelotti wanted, at almost the perfect time.

His side are about to enter a truly tough run of fixtures throughout December. Games against Leicester, Manchester United, Man City and Arsenal are close on the horizon and Everton couldn’t afford to be tinkering their setup in those matches.

Of course the personnel on occasion will have to change given the nature of a hectic festive schedule, but at least Everton can have a solid style and formation to rely on.

The return of the likes of Lucas Digne, Seamus Coleman and James Rodriguez can’t come soon enough – and of course two of those will hopefully be back within the next couple of matches.

But in their absence the side needed a plan B, something tangible that they could rely on to be combative and effective in picking up results.

It was back to basics in some ways, but Chelsea found it hard to cope. Perhaps other sides in the near future would find this energy and intensity similarly difficult to counter.

The visitors found themselves dominating possession for large portions of the game but almost everywhere they turned they were met with a resolute Everton defender or midfielder stopping them in their tracks.

*Who was your MOTM against Chelsea? Take our quick poll.

When they did get their shots away, as Reece James did with a couple of strong efforts in quick succession in the first half, Pickford was then up to the task.

His reflexes to tip a powerful drive from the right-back onto the post in particular showed a goalkeeper in a much better run of form and confidence than he had shown at the beginning of the term.

Many times over the last few weeks Everton have seemed to lack a bit of direction and game plan, with a few individual errors proving too costly.

It couldn’t be allowed to continue through this tough December, and Ancelotti will be pleased to see that his tinkering with the system finally produced the result he was craving.

Play like this against the other big sides this month and the Blues will be a match for them. They’ll have the desire, they’ll have a system they know will work.

That’s what will give them the best chance this December.

Read more at www.liverpoolecho.co.uk

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button