Words By Max Kilham
That’s how long Evertonians have been waiting for a trophy. Not a league title, not European success, a trophy.
Everton are the 4th most successful team in English football history for in terms of top flight league titles won. The club is a sleeping giant in need of reawakening.
A far cry from their most successful period in the 1980’s, the club has struggled both domestically and in Europe over the last 30 years having only qualified for the Champions League once in that period, in the 2004-05 season.
When Marco Silva left the club in December 2019, the club was in the midst of one of its worst periods on the pitch in recent history. Silva had left the club in 18th, floundering in the relegation places and facing the prospect of being relegated from the first division for the first time since the 1950-51 season.
In stepped Carlo Ancelotti.
A manager considered to be amongst the very best of all time, the 3-time Champions League winner was tasked with one of the most difficult jobs in world football: transforming the Toffees.
Despite his glittering resume, doubts about Ancelotti were beginning to creep into thought. The Italian has rarely taken jobs at non-superpowers. But his previous employer was Napoli, a club well-established and amongst the better teams in Serie, but consistently falling short of the likes of Juventus.
And yet, his stint at Napoli was his most unsuccessful to date. After a trophy-less season and a half, he was sacked in December 2019, before moving to Merseyside later that month.
The blue half of Merseyside has needed a saviour for some time and they may well have found theirs in Ancelotti.
His first match in charge was a 1-0 win over Burnley. The type of result you want a team to grind out if you want to make it to the very top.
An mixed bag of results followed for the rest of the season. In fact, many could suggest that the ‘revival’ from Ancelotti last season really did not live up to expectation. A meagre 9 wins from 21 in all competitions, compounded by results like a 1-0 loss to Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup. This result wasn’t helped by the fact that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp fielded a team full of academy players whilst the Toffees played near-enough their strongest XI.
However, never underestimate the pulling power of Ancelotti.
The summer rolled around, it was clear wholesale changes were needed at Goodison Park. The Italian chose to focus on the midfield in conducting these changes.
First, Ancelotti raided his former club Napoli, in bringing in Brazilian holding midfielder Allan de Rodrigues for a reported £25 million fee.
Next came superstar James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. The 2014 World Cup golden boot winner had seen his career drift into mediocrity in the Spanish capital, but there were no guarantees he could revive his glittering career on Merseyside.
Finally, Abdoulaye Doucouré walked through the door. Relegated last season with Watford, the Frenchman again was looking to jumpstart his career.
Based off the evidence so far this season, these signings look to have transformed their fortunes. Five wins out of five so far in the new season, including a statement 0-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Spurs on the opening day, the Toffees are showing a fight rarely seen in recent memory.
In their second league game of the season, they overcame an early 1-0 deficit against West Brom to come out eventual 5-2 winners.
James Rodriguez has looked like the star we all remembered, Allan controls the tempo like few others and Doucouré has performed his box-to-box duties tremendously.
Furthermore, 23-year old Dominic Calvert-Lewin has come on leaps and bounds, having amassed 5 goals in 3 league games this season; enough to top the scoring charts.
Playing a stylish brand of football, as Everton are, is a sure-fire way to win over the fans and the good results will only help to strengthen this.
It is early in the season, but Everton are heading in the right direction. The various under-achievements of previous seasons have been swept under the rug and it’s a new dawn for the club. If everything works out well, the Toffees have the potential to both end their trophy drought and make a push for the Champions League spots.
However, recent memory suggests that Everton are far from a predictable club. Therefore, whether they live up to those expectations are anyone’s guess.