Balance in management is key, just ask Carlo Ancelotti and Duncan Ferguson – two polar-opposites who are taking Everton to somewhere that was unimaginable just two months ago.
You would think that the silver-tongued Italian would be entirely to thank for turning them from relegation candidates to European hopefuls but the Italian’s fiery assistant has to take a lot of credit.
In fact it’s the balance of the two which appears to have created harmony where there has been heart-ache for so long.
To appreciate just how drastic this turnaround has been, you only need to look at the League table when Marco Silva got the boot back in early December.
The Toffees were sat in 14th, just two points above the relegation zone and having just been drubbed 5-2 by the red half of their city.
Silva was axed and in came Goodison Park’s enforcer.
Ferguson was a fan favourite from his playing days after scoring 69 Premier League goals during his time with the club.
A manic 3-1 win against fourth place Chelsea was followed by draws in the League to Arsenal and Man United, as well as a 2-2 draw in the League Cup against Leicester which Everton lost on penalties.
The ship was steadied but talk of David Moyes and even Sam Allardyce returning to the club had Everton fans fearing yet another backwards step.
But Ancelotti, who had recently left Napoli, was one name in the hat which kept fans believing.
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The former: Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich manager’s appointment raised a lot of eye brow when he took the reigns just before Christmas.
Since then things have only gone up for Everton.
Ferguson has provided the militant force while Ancelotti commands respect through his reputation and his endearing personality.
As a duo, they appear to be dynamite for Everton who now sit above both Manchester United and Arsenal in seventh.
Only their Stanley Park neighbours have won more points since the Italian’s appointment with Ancelotti’s boys winning five in eight in the Premier League.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin looks like a complete centre-forward and his partnership with Richarlison has been a big feature of their success.
Theo Walcott is even chipping in with goals and assists while Gylfi Sigurðsson and Morgan Schneiderlin have both drastically improved under the two-time Champions League winner.
Everton have gone to a simple 4-4-2, something that won Ancelotti a Premier League trophy back in 2010 with Chelsea.
While winning the League is out of question for this year, and probably a few more to come, Everton will only have to look at Leicester’s appointment of Brendan Rodgers to see how far a world-class manager can take a talented squad.
With five of the ‘Big Six’ struggling, the places at the top end of the table are very much up for grabs.
We will know a lot more about Everton this time next month… they have made light work of Crystal Palace, Watford and Burnley but the real tests are just around the corner.
Their next four games see them host Man United and Liverpool coupled with trips to Stamford Bridge and The Emirates.
Any Everton fan would have taken a top-half finish back in December but should they win their next two against United and Arsenal, the top four could well be within touching distance.
It has been the promised land for Everton, who last made the top four back in 2005, finishing fifth three times since then.
A lot of the recruitment at Everton has come under scrutiny since Farhad Moshiri bought the club back in 2016.
But the Iranian snapping up one of the most decorated managers of the modern era is a bigger statement than any £50million signing.
Back in December Unai Emery’s short reign at Arsenal was coming to an end and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job was on the line at Old Trafford but neither clubs opted for Ancelotti.
Arsenal took a punt on a former Everton player in Mikel Arteta, perhaps looking at Ferguson’s short-term success, and United stuck with Solskjaer and, for now at least, it looks as though their loss has been Everton’s gain.
The season’s expectations are loose for Ancelotti and Ferguson – they have gone above and beyond what was expected so far – but going forward the sky could soon be the limit.
With a new stadium on the way and a chairman with deep pockets, a top-bracket continental manager seemed to be the missing piece… and his trusty right-hand man of course.
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