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Premier League preview: Which Everton will actually turn up?

Carlo Ancelotti, Everton
(Image credit: PA)

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It’s the million-quid question among Evertonians. Time and again in recent seasons, a convincing and dominant performance one week has been followed by a meek and toothless display.

However, it really is now or never for Everton. This is the time to deliver. With Carlo Ancelotti in charge, the feeling among the Goodison faithful is simple: if one of the most decorated managers in football history can’t get a tune out of this expensively assembled mishmash of players, who else possibly could?

The former Milan boss tweaked an improvement from the Toffees’ defence and frontline during his first six months on Merseyside, but a lack of dynamism and guile among his midfielders ultimately destroyed the team’s functionality. 

A solid run after lockdown presented a slight chance of qualifying for Europe, but the wheels came off as soon as fans dared to dream. Achieving consistency and performing when the stakes are high is as necessary as it is novel.

Everton – previously frugal, buying durable if unspectacular necessities – won the lottery when Farhad Moshiri and his millions arrived in 2016. Yet rather than buying Ferraris and Aston Martins, they simply paid over the odds for supposedly better second-hand motors. At £50m, Gylfi Sigurdsson made a statement – the wrong statement. 

Despite the best of intentions, poor recruitment with no real long-term plan has yielded zero progress on the field.

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This time, though, Ancelotti’s experience and know-how is trusted unconditionally by supporters, even if they have been stung by past false dawns. While there is usually hope in abundance on the blue half of Merseyside, such optimism has slowly been replaced by a desperate yearning for a prosperous new era to replace a narrative of failure.

“It’s not acceptable – we expect a different attitude, different mentality, different character,” stated the three-time Champions League-winning coach. “A big part of the DNA of this club is that everyone wants to see players fighting. It’s the most important part.”

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It will take a man of Ancelotti’s calibre to drag Everton out of their deep-seated rut of mediocrity. Should the malaise prove even too tough for him to unravel, however, they will suffer the same old story.

If the experienced Italian can work his magic once more, then Everton will finally be able to cherish a confident, industrious version of their side competing again. This time, it has to be the case.

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