Swap Ancelotti and Arteta

Published: Monday, 23 December 2019

The first thing to say is ‘welcome back to the PL Carlo’. For me, he’s the daddy of them all. What hasn’t he won? Where hasn’t he managed? He’s done the lot. More than that - he’s a good man. I know that because my friend, the late great Ray Wilkins, had nothing but admiration for him. He loved his time working with Ancelotti at Chelsea.

Do we remember how it all ended? Yep - in the tunnel at Everton after Chelsea had been spanked. Roman Abramovic had sacked him before he’d even left the ground. What a lovely irony then that Ancelotti is back in the English game at the place where it ended so shabbily last time.

Not that Ancelotti cared too much. He went on to earn a small fortune in Paris, Madrid and Munich - where he kept on winning - before returning to Italy at Naples.

Naples? That decision raised a few eye brows - and not just Ancelotti’s stray left brow! I’m not being clever after the event, but those of us who had doubts about that move were eventually proven correct. It just never felt like an easy fit.

That’s my reservation again with Everton. I wish him all the luck in the world and I desperately hope it works. Everton are a fine club and a big part of me admires the fact that they’ve gone out on a limb and appointed the Italian, but it doesn’t feel right.

I’ve always felt that Ancelotti is a man with star dust in his pockets. That extra added magical ingredient that he sprinkles around big clubs. This is different. This is a massive build from the bottom up. It’s a project. If he’s up for it - and Farad Moshiri is going to back him - then fine. But I can’t help feeling uneasy about it all.

His first signing has to be a statement. It’s got to be the equivalent of Robinho joining Man City. It’s got to be a player that will convince others to join. So who? Christian Erikssen? Jack Grealish? Aubameyang? Zlatan? The truth is - I don’t know. It’s not easy is it?

The first one will be expensive. They’ve got to throw everything at whoever it is - and then keep going. Then go again - and again.

There’s no doubt that Ancelotti has the gravitas to entice big players to Goodison - but..... It’s a big but - will they fancy it? And will Ancelotti fancy getting his hands dirty? I’ve got nagging doubts.

I think he was better suited to what Arsenal needed. I’ve said time and again that I don’t believe there’s too much wrong there. Ancelotti would’ve got big players firing almost straight away. He’d have added the star dust I mentioned earlier. Perfect.

In a strange way Mikel Arteta will have the same issues as Ancelotti when it comes to signing big players. On the plus side he’s got location, location, location on his side. Playing and living in London is what they all want to do now. City’s money and Guardiola is a powerful draw - so is Klopp’s charisma - but are the best players going to sign for United anymore? Are Everton anymore attractive? I think we know the answer. Will Arteta have the charisma to persuade top names to join him?

Getting Arteta out of City was always going to be a problem if he knew he was getting the job after Guardiola. The minute he knew that wasn’t going to be the case, then Arteta was up for a move and I think he’d have been perfect for Everton.

Liverpool fans won’t thank me for saying it - but I’ve always believed that Everton are a special club. It’s different. Don’t ask me to explain it because I can’t. But it is different and that’s why I’ve always said that whoever was managing the club needed to understand that first and foremost. It’s why I’ve always said that he also needs to have had a ‘touch of the ball’ at Goodison. Who were the successful managers in the modern era? Kendall and Royle. David Moyes got it from the minute he walked in the door and announced that he was proud to be taking over ‘the people’s club’. That’s why he was the exception to the rule.

Arteta would’ve been perfect - building from the ground up. Building slowly. Carefully. Thoughtfully. Buying players to be part of a ‘project’. No vanity signings.

That’s my big fear with Ancelotti - that Moshiri has got his big name coach, but is the Italian the ‘right one’ - let alone his ‘special one’? Only time will tell - but I really do wish both clubs had appointed the other man.

I thought the weekends football was largely underwhelming, but I was chuffed to bits for Nigel Pearson. Here we go - prediction time - he’ll keep Watford up!

Well played Super Frankie Lampard. Chelsea needed that - but forcing Mourinho into system changes and handing out a lesson on his own patch? Brilliant. Mind you - Antony Taylor was hopeless. Absolutely hopeless. He missed everything. Why did he need VR to award Chelsea a pen? It was so obvious in real time. We all called it. Why did he need VR to send Son off? He was looking at the incident for goodness sake. Mike Riley will be congratulating himself claiming VR got it right. Of course it did. It could hardly fail - but it wasn’t needed.

Conversely it was needed when Spurs should’ve had two penalties for fouls in the box. Where was VR then? Sleeping? Were they making a cup of tea? The system remains seriously flawed - but worse than that the standard of our refereeing has slumped dramatically under Riley. Where are the Howard Webb’s? The Clattenburg’s? We’re a million miles from producing world class officials again.  

It took a while, but in conversation with Gianni Infantino here in Qatar last week, I eventually got him to concede that the PGMOL are mis-using VAR. As we’ve been saying on beINSPORTS all season - the match official HAS to have the final say. Infantino was in total agreement   That’s why I differentiate between VR - video reffing as the PL does - and VAR. Riley has got to stop being so stubborn and join up with the rest of the world.

A final word for Mike Keegan on The Mail. If you’d had your life trashed - scum bag national newspapers breaking into your sick Mum’s house for quotes and an odious campaign of hate orchestrated by your former employers - you too might keep a little. bit of anger in your back pocket. For the record - I’ve never been happier.