When you think about the “big 6” in English football you think Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal. The team that always seems to be lurking in the shadows is the blue part of Merseyside, Everton football club. Everton are a club that in recent seasons have defined the saying of “being there or thereabouts” as they always have a solid season but can never seem to make that final push. However, following the appointment of serial winner Carlo Ancelotti, Everton have turned a new leaf and with a few additions have made an impressive start to the season. Could this be the start of a new successful era at Everton?
Ancelotti is known as one of the greatest managers of the modern era, and he has the accolades to back it up. The Italian is a two-time winner of the World’s Best Coach award and he has managed some of the greatest clubs on the planet, including Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.
The now-Everton manager has won Europe’s greatest honour, the UEFA Champions League on three occasions as well as countless domestic cup championships and multiple league titles, including the Premier League with Chelsea, so he is definitely accustomed to the fast-pace of English football.
Everton have started the campaign with 13 points from a possible 15, only dropping points against current Premier League champions and Merseyside rivals, Liverpool, in a dramatic 2-2 draw. As well as that, Everton have made it into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, with no signs of stopping their dominant displays.
One of the stories of the transfer window was Everton’s impressive acquisition of Columbian playmaker James Rodriguez from Real Madrid for a fee that was reportedly in the region of £22 million, however, it has since been revealed that he joined the Merseyside club on a free transfer, which is an outstanding piece of business with his quality already flourishing in his first few matches, having scored 3 goals and 4 assists in 6 matches so far this season.
Rodriguez is definitely proving the critics wrong, as they were beginning to doubt his abilities at the highest level having been shipped out on loan to Bayern Munich and publicly named out-of-favour by Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane. However, he always seemed to have his best connection under Carlo Ancelotti. Following his free transfer to Merseyside, Ancelotti was quoted as saying: “He has no problem adapting to the Premier League because we are not playing a different sport. It’s football, the pitch is the same everywhere.” This shows the Italian’s incredible man-management and his trust in his players, (especially his new acquisitions) as he publicly breaks the stigma of players being given time to adapt to the Premier League by saying class is permanent no matter what country you’re playing in.
Despite spending around £70 million on new recruitments including centre-back Ben Godfrey from Norwich, and central midfielders Abdoulaye Doucouré and Allan from Watford and Napoli respectively, it is their young striker who’s turned the heads of many, including his international manager.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has well and truly burst into the new season having already scored 10 goals in only 7 matches in all competitions, including two hat-tricks. The Sheffield-born frontman has been in electric form under Ancelotti, earning him a call-up to the England national team, to which he scored on his debut, in a friendly against Ryan Giggs’ Wales.
Calvert-Lewin is also proving to be a dominant presence in the air, having scored 4 goals from headers in the league already this season, an impressive stat considering he has only scored 14 headers throughout his entire Premier League career.
The forward was rewarded for his blistering start to the campaign by picking up the Premier League Player of the Month award for September and if he continues in the same red-hot form as before, he will be a shoe-in for many more awards in months to come.
Whether or not Everton will remain in the title picture we will have to wait and see but we can all agree that it makes entertaining viewing watching an underdog run riot. It truly justifies the Premier League being known as the most competitive league in the world.
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Written by Oran Darragh – @darragh_oran