Carlo Ancelotti possesses the kind of resume of which most managers can only dream. A multiple Champions League winner, both as a player and as a manager, the Italian has had his work cut out for him since joining Everton. The Toffees, in spite of expectations, have often performed remarkably well. Here are the tactics that Carlo Ancelotti has employed at Everton in the 2020/21 season.
Carlo Ancelotti, the world-class footballer
There are few figures who have achieved more in professional football than Carlo Ancelotti. His list of achievements is a mile long. Perhaps, for this reason, his desire to continue to grow his profile, taking on a difficult managerial role at Everton, is all the more meaningful.
As a player, Ancelotti played for Parma, AS Roma, and AC Milan, winning Serie A trophies with the latter two. During the late 1980s, the midfielder was part of the Milan team dubbed by some to have been the greatest side of all time. In spite of his immense talent, injuries cut his playing career short. He retired from the game in 1992, aged 33.
Ancelotti’s managerial career
Ancelotti began his apprenticeship as Assistant Manager to Arrigo Sacchi, the man in charge of the Italian national team. He later became the manager of Parma, creating one of the most entertaining sides of the mid-1990s.
He then managed Juventus, with who he won the Intertoto Cup in 1999. His greatest success as a manager, however, would come once he rejoined AC Milan. Here he won the Scudetto, as well as two Champions League trophies. The early 2000’s Milan side is, like the one in which Ancelotti played, considered by many to have been one of the finest in history.
Ancelotti then used his remarkable reputation to manage some of the biggest teams in the world: Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayer Munchen, rarely failing to win a trophy.
Following an eventful, albeit controversial year of managing Napoli, Ancelotti was announced as the surprise choice for the Everton hot seat. The Toffees are one of the most beloved teams in England. In spite of their consistent effort on the transfer market, they’ve largely failed to gain the success they’ve desired. With Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, the team has displayed more confident and attractive football than they have in years.
Ancelotti’s tactics and football philosophy
Carlo Ancelotti has been dubbed a “super manager”. Having won so many trophies over a long period of time, the Italian has always understood that football changes. Because of that, his tactics have changed along with it. His choices, oftentimes, reflect the strengths of his players. Still, undeniably, he employs many of the traits used in Serie A during the 1980s, the time where he formed his vision.
Ancelotti favored a balanced 4-4-2 system early in his career. He has, however, adapted to a 4-3-3 in more recent years. The manager is known for his calm demeanor and his man-management skills. The Italian repurpose players for roles he considers them better suited for, as was the case with deploying Andrea Pirlo in a regista role.
Ancelotti is known to change tactics plans to best accommodate his most talented players. For example, the manager recently talked about changing from a 3-4-1-2 to a 4-4-2 at Juventus in order to best serve the talents of Zinedine Zidane.
Fans of his leadership are numerous, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic once calling him the “the greatest manager ever”.
Ancelotti’s tactical vision for Everton
Ancelotti’s reputation and his patience in working individually with players have gone a long way in making him a beloved figure at Goodison Park. He is known to speak at length with players, discussing their strengths, weaknesses, and, even, recommending football viewing material that may help them.
Carlo Ancelotti has, most often, relied on a 4-3-3 formation, that can easily morph into a 4-5-1. The team can also defend into a 4-4-2 system, with an additional pressing forward looking to win the back high-up the pitch. Towards the latter stages of the 2020/21 season, Everton even opted for a 3-5-2.
Everton’s attacking build-up
Ancelotti has strived to emphasize the dynamism of Everton’s players. The Toffees love to employ direct passes that take advantage of the constant movement of the players. Wide players are instructed to advance simultaneously when the team is in possession. Playmaker James Rodriguez and attacker Richarlison are always moving, looking for space and opportunities to put Calvert-Lewin in a dangerous position.
Everton has suffered a setback in the second part of the season. More recently, Ancelotti has, as in his earlier days of management, begun using a 3-4-1-2 formation. This, however, shares many of the traits of the tactics employed at Everton so far.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the team’s biggest goal threat, will act as a poacher, playing as the team’s most advanced player. Brazilian Richarlison, who was often deployed on the wing, acts as the second striker. Meanwhile, James Rodrigues will play in just behind the attackers, looking to make the best of his pace and technique. Wingers Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman play out wide, taking much of the slack off the wing-backs, as had been the case in previous tactical setups.
Oftentimes, Coleman, used originally as an inverted wing-back, now as a winger, will be instrumental in setting up the attack. When playing in a 4-4-2, Rodriguez and Calvert-Lewin would drift wide to help the team’s defensive efforts. In a 3-4-1-2 formation, Michael Keane will take on the role of full-back.
Everton in defense
Carlo Ancelotti has adapted the pressing of Everton to adapt to the requirements of the modern Premier League. The team employs a mixture of man and zonal pressing. Players are required to try and win the ball as far away from their own goal as possible. When one of the Toffees’ players is looking to win the ball, his teammates will move to man-mark the players in the direct vicinity.
Like other EPL teams, the aggressive style of pressing can prove risky. Wide midfielders usually tuck in as they look to overload central areas. Wing-backs are then required to command the wider areas, with the defensive midfield dropping down to help the central defense. Teams have looked to take advantage of this system though, attempting to play vertical passes to catch Everton on the wrong foot.
More recently, Everton has shifted to a slightly safer mid-block, in an attempt to reduce some of the risks of dynamic counter-pressing. The move has not worked particualrly well in the latter part of the season. Everton has, however, impressed throughout the campaign and more is expected of the team.
Ancelotti’s Premier League legacy and what the future holds
The general consensus seems to be that Carlo Ancelotti, one of the world’s great football managers, has done very well considering the resources he has to work and the level of competition in the Premier League.
At times, Everton has looked like one of the league’s best sides. Because of this, missing out on European football would be a massive disappointment. The general feeling, however, is that the Toffees, with Ancelotti, as the team’s ring leader is on the right track for the first time in a long time.
In Carlo Ancelotti, Everton has one of the best managers on the planet. A sensible recruitment policy and a dash of luck may just make this out to be another of the Italian manager’s great successes.
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