Everton haved turned to the vastly experienced Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager, with a brief to return the faded Premier League club to former glories.
Ancelotti, 60, was sacked by Napoli last week but comes with a trophy-laden CV from spells at a clutch of Europe’s top clubs, including Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
His arrival, which was confirmed on Saturday, is a coup for the Toffees, who are languishing in 16th place in the Premier League, just three points above the relegation zone.
Everton have not won silverware since 1995 but they have a proud tradition and, with nine league titles, are still fourth in the all-time list of winners behind Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Ancelotti is used to dining at European football’s top table, but his immediate task will be to guarantee survival before trying to fulfil the ambitions of Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
The British-Iranian businessman has ploughed in hundreds of millions of pounds since buying a 49.9 percent stake in the club in 2016. He has since increased his stake further.
However, that investment has not reaped much reward on the pitch as Everton have finished seventh, eighth and eighth in the three full seasons since Moshiri’s takeover.
Much of his money has been wasted in settlements for sacked managers. Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva have all been dismissed over the past three-and-a-half years.
However, Moshiri’s commitment to make Everton a relevant player in what he once described as the “Hollywood of football” alongside Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City in England’s north-west has seen him splash out once more for a three-time Champions League winner in Ancelotti.
The Italian has won league titles in four different countries among 15 major honours and will reportedly be one of the highest-paid managers in the league.
Yet, there are doubts whether Ancelotti’s skillset is the right fit for what Everton currently need.
Ancelotti has built a reputation on massaging big egos in the dressing rooms and boardrooms of Europe’s biggest clubs, but has always been able to count on supremely talented squads over the past two decades since leaving Reggiana for Parma in 1996.
The lack of intensity to his day-to-day training sessions have been blamed for a return of just four league titles from his 20 years at prominent clubs, two of which came with a huge financial advantage over the competition at PSG and Bayern.
His time in Munich ended just two months into the 2017/18 season with the players claiming they had to organise extra training for themselves such was the sharp slip in demands from the coaching staff after three years under Pep Guardiola.
At Napoli, progress to the last 16 of the Champions League was not enough to save his job after a seven-game winless run in Serie A left them well adrift of the top four.
– Champions League glory –
AFP / Miguel RIOPA Serial winner: Carlo Ancelotti has won the Champions League three times as a coach
The Champions League has traditionally been Ancelotti’s forte, rather than the rigours of domestic competition.
No coach has won the competition more but Everton are nowhere near even qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition.
“What Ancelotti does is he takes really good teams and adds a little touch to it which takes them to that next step, especially in the Champions League,” former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher, who grew up as an Everton fan, told Sky Sports.
“He’s not going to win the league or the Champions League at Everton. That’s not the job description at this moment in time and it might not be that for a long period of time, unfortunately for Everton.
“The job for any Everton manager is, can they get in and around the Champions League places where they are actually challenging?”
Ancelotti’s appointment may signal Everton’s lofty ambitions to challenge for a place in the Premier League’s top four in the coming seasons, but is also symptomatic of the Italian’s diminishing appeal.
Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern, Inter Milan, Tottenham and Arsenal have all changed manager over the past 12 months and not sought Ancelotti as the solution to their problems.
A coach who has toured the continent’s super clubs is no longer rated among the elite.