When the ball rolls early in the season Everton don’t need to remember where it can take you, and Carlo Ancelotti’s approach to this Carabao Cup game with Fleetwood Town has said he knows it too.
The hope was that he was going to keep the faith with the team that passed Salford City in the previous round, but against a team from a higher division he went strong. Not at full power but still solid.
The meaning was twofold. First, it showed he respected the challenge before him, but second – and this is the interesting part – that he was determined to keep the momentum going.
Going to the next round wasn’t going to cut it for Carlo, or shut down a team that left anyone with room for doubt.
He wanted this third round tie to be treated comfortably and professionally.
If Jordan Pickford hadn’t given his manager more reason to worry, this victory, and the move to a fourth-round clash with West Ham next week, would have come with the hosts barely putting a glove on Everton, who had been at the break.
In the end, they slashed a few laps but were clearly pointed at the end.
The Blues recovered from Pickford’s mistakes to score twice more, after Joey Barton’s side went 3-2, and regained control of the game to end the night comfortably.
It’s now 14 goals in four games this season, back-to-back games where the team has scored five times (and conceded two avoidable goals, but later) and extended their start to the season to 100%.
They are heading towards Crystal Palace with as much momentum as they could have hoped for.
Too many managers in Everton’s recent past have played with this, slowed down the rolling of the ball, and let the wave crash and crash against the rocks.
But not Ancelotti. And his state of mind reading goes back to the last time Everton made the top four. David Moyes’ side entered the Champions League places at the end of September and hasn’t given up on them all season.
Of course, their League Cup run ended in the fourth round, but at this point the season had passed in November and his side were already embarking on a Champions League assault.
It’s too early to say if Ancelotti’s Everton will have the capacity to stay in the top four for the remainder of the season, but the Italian, based on that squad selection, is determined to get everything out of the push. of confidence and a great time when this team got together.
Everton had a series of fixtures ahead of them at this point last season which were favorable, but they failed to make the most of it.
Ancelotti is determined to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
Two out of two wins in the league, and now two out of two in the Cup, and the Everton boss, picking such a strong team – and seeing such an impressive performance (Pickford aside) – will believe he already has started preparations for the weekend trip to Selhurst Park.
There is a buzz around the club and whatever line-up he chooses to put on the pitch, so far, he’s been effective.
The competition looks and feels higher than it has been in a long time, the motivation, professionalism and attitude – those three scathing words used by Ancelotti on the reboot – have faded into the past and the spirit. around the players is tangible.
A confident, united team, playing well, in a rhythm and scoring goals at Everton’s current pace, is dangerous. Football laws say it can’t last but Ancelotti will aim to extend this run as long as possible and give the Blues a launching pad for the rest of the season.
In the end, Moyes’ team put themselves in a strong position from the start and they didn’t want to give it up.
They lost on the first day of the season but only tasted defeat once again before November, when the Blues finished third in the table.
It’s the start of Ancelotti’s first full season in charge, but the momentum is building.
Pickford’s mistakes are cause for concern and Ancelotti could now push the club to sign a new understudy as it is understood he has discussed this with the board before, but those mistakes cannot distract from what was a largely impressive performance here.
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Everton had 71% possession, 19 shots, scored five times and gave up just three efforts on target. That number could have been zero if they had continued as they did in the first half.
Niels Nkounkou was excellent again and in the second half when Anthony Gordon was hired he formed a left-wing partnership that was full of pace, power and threat every time they attacked. An exciting glimpse into the future for sure.
Nkounkou has now, surely, removed the need for Everton to directly replace Leighton Baines, despite his loving years and limited experience, while Gordon has shown any player – young or old – how to approach the disappointment of being excluded from the game. starting team and composition. He had a bit between his teeth when he arrived and looked great.
Perhaps these two, more than most, embodied that level of competition that helps fuel momentum.
Ancelotti’s motivation and his squad’s selections also help and expect players who return to the starting lineup for Saturday’s Palace game to have the exact same frame of mind in getting things done.