(Crystal Palace-Everton 1-2) Carlo Ancelotti (61) has won titles in all five major football nations. Now it may seem that his experience and wisdom is what gets the turn on the old great Everton.
Ancelotti succeeded in Italy with Milan, in England with Chelsea, in Spain with Real Madrid, in Germany with Bayern Munich and in France with PSG. On December 21 last year, he took on his, perhaps toughest challenge: Take an old greatness like Everton to the top of English football again.
He has at least started well, seems to have bought wisely – and he has put together a team that seems balanced and solid.
We have to go back to 1995 to find Everton’s last trophy, the FA Cup won with Joe Royle as manager. And we have to go back to 1987 to find the last league title, then with Howard Kendall as manager. In fact, it is also 15 years since Everton were in the “top four”, in the 2004/05 season.
Everything has become “long ago” in the dark blue part of Liverpool. But Ancelotti has managed to influence this Everton team in the nine months he has had the job: With the victory over Crystal Palace, he won his 13th match in 26 attempts, a victory percentage of 50. And only one Everton manager has better numbers right there – Kendall mentioned with 54 percent, in his first period as manager, from 1981-87.
“Early days” the English call it. But for Everton fans, and Everton as a club, it is actually rare to see the team win the first three games of a league season. In fact, it is the first time Everton have managed this since 1993 – and it is only the sixth time since they were promoted to the top division in 1954.
Only Arsenal have been longer consistent in the top division than Everton, who in fact only have four seasons in total at level two in the English league system, the rest at the top level. There have been only two relegations throughout history. It is the least of all teams.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his fifth goal in three games, with his opening goal against Crystal Palace. Then it was 10 minutes, and Calvert-Lewin scored from close range after a beautiful attack directed by James Rodríguez and Séamus Coleman.
That Everton have the top scorer in the league is also one of the rarities. The last Everton player to do so was Gary Lineker in 1985/86 (30 goals). So the Everton name, both at the top of the points table and the scoring table, is worth celebrating for Everton fans.
It took a controversial hands decision for Everton to clear all three points for the third time. However, the referee was unimpressed, and booked him for diving.
Richarlison put the penalty kick safely in goal, to 1-2 on the scoreboard – and Everton kept away despite strong Palace pressure in the last half hour.
PS! The last time Everton won their first three league games, in 1993/94, it was going really wrong. Everton finished as number 17, two points from relegation.