Friday 17 January 2020

Ancelotti's players offer their response to ire of Everton fans

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

Chris Bascombe

There can be no greater smear against a professional footballer than the accusation of lacking commitment or not caring.

Apply it after a derby and you end up with the carnage seen at Everton over the past week, supporters favouring direct action to relay their message while players forlornly offer a defence on social media in the face of overwhelmingly negative public opinion.

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One player who publicly rejected the accusations, Fabian Delph, was jeered by his own fans when introduced as a second-half sub in the 1-0 defeat of Brighton on Saturday.

Whether Everton's FA Cup defeat by Liverpool was truly down to lack of effort - or more due to an inferior team being beaten by a well-drilled, talented combination of youth and experience in its own stadium - made for a heated debate in the office of director of football Marcel Brands.

No doubt those shareholders at tomorrow's Everton annual meeting will have their say too.

Those Everton players cast as dartboards knew they had to respond or work ethic, rather than a broader lack of quality, would have continued to be at the core of the criticism.

Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin - a player who can never be accused of failing to put in the yards - offered some balance to the feisty debate. Richarlison's first-half winner at least brought the temporary sanctuary of a victory.

"It's been a tough week. People can only form their opinion on what they see and if it looks like we are not giving our all people are entitled to say that, but for me I am always working hard," said the 22-year-old.

"Different teams set up differently against us and sometimes it is harder to gain possession and gain momentum in a game. It is never a question of not trying because I will always try my best and I would never shirk responsibility. I can only apologise for the rest and try and do our best to put it right."

But how does it feel when fans have turned up at the training ground to tell the players they are failing them?

"They don't have to do that for me to know how much it means to them," said Calvert-Lewin.

"I already know how much it means to play for Everton and to win a game like that and also what it means to lose a game like that.

"I can understand the fans' frustrations and they wanted to voice their opinion," he added.

"I can only let them know from myself I know how much it means. We don't intentionally mean to lose games. I can only imagine how the fans must feel."

The idea that had Everton turned up at Anfield and showed all those qualities that equate to those most abstract phrases "fighting spirit" and "bottle", that it would have appeased their supporters, plays well to the gallery.

Others within Everton's fan base are prepared to acknowledge there is rather more to it.

At least in Carlo Ancelotti they have a manager with a degree in more sophisticated ideas of football.

It is a fair assumption he recognises there is more to his rebuild than making the players show they care more. He would be relieved if that was all he needs.

In fact, the Italian seems to have enjoyed the aggro of the past seven days. Whatever the frustrations of fans and players, at least it gives him something to channel in the right direction. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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