Goodison Park favourite Leon Osman has called Carlo Ancelotti the best Everton manager since the departure of David Moyes, as the Italian approaches the one-year anniversary of his appointment.
The Toffees are fifth following a victory over high-flying Leicester on Wednesday, a point off a Champions League place. It's been a fast start spearheaded by an improved Dominic Calvert-Lewin and a host of midfield additions.
Speaking to 90min via eToro, the former Everton (and, briefly, Carlisle) man said of the three-time Champions League winning manager: “He knows exactly how to get people playing as well as they can for him, and for the team. Tactically he's very good, instilling his beliefs and way of playing right from the off when he came in around Christmas in 2019.
“He's had time to work with the team without quite finding the personnel for each position, and the acquisitions in the summer were fantastic. With Allan, Doucoure and James coming into the middle part of the field, you wondered if it would take a little bit of time to get them gelled, but they're intelligent footballers and they pick things up very quickly.”
He continued: “When you look at what he's won in his career, the Champions League victories, the league titles, I think you have to say yes, and I'm sure Evertonians would like to see some of that success at Goodison.”
Osman also spoke about a recent survey by eToro which showed that some 75% of football fans in the UK have had their enjoyment of football negatively impacted by this year’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
More than half of fans surveyed said that the added distractions of watching games at home made it harder to focus on games, with Osman admitting: “It's children running round your feet, the doorbell ringing, people just need things doing in the house. Watching TV at home brings its distractions, but we all still want to watch the football!”
With up to 2,000 fans returning to grounds in Tier 2 areas this month, he added: “It was great to see, but it was even better to hear. I think it surprised some people just how much noise 2,000 fans can make in stadiums across the country that can hold 60,000 or more. It's been great, hopefully it's the first step of getting more and more people back in, we've just got to make sure we do it in a safe way.”
Everton fans could be watching their club play home games away from Goodison Park in a couple of years when the proposed Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium opens, and Osman backed the club – and, crucially, their supporters – to make a massive success of the move.
“Everton and Goodison Park have stayed together as long as they could,” he said. “It's one of the best stadiums I've played at, it's truly magnificent and unique. It's historic, hosting huge games at the World Cup in 1966, and it's a great stadium but there's no opportunity for redevelopment. The way football's going, everyone's having to redevelop the stadiums. Everton are at a point where we need to find a place where that can happen, a new stadium.
“It's been difficult for Arsenal to move to a new stadium, but I don't think them falling away from success was necessarily down to the stadium. West Ham have found it difficult as well, but Tottenham Hotspur have a completely new stadium and they're doing well, Man City didn't seem to have a problem when they moved either. It's an opportunity that Everton need to take, and with the fans that they have I think they’ll have no problems at all.”
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