Scale of Carlo Ancelotti’s task laid bare at Everton after humiliating FA Cup exit against Liverpool

Scale of Carlo Ancelotti’s task laid bare at Everton after humiliating FA Cup exit against Liverpool

As the 7,900 disconsolate Everton supporters dispersed from the Anfield Road stand, Yerry Mina slumped to the ground and many of his team-mates swiftly turned for the tunnel.

Only the lone figure of Djibril Sidibe came across to offer some form of an apology for his side’s desperate defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals.

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The overall performance had been worse than any Everton side had produced at the home of their neighbours in the past 35 years, came the frank and accurate assessment from Jamie Carragher.

Sidibe had fronted up to the bleak reality that a virtually full-strength team had been beaten by a much-changed Liverpool side, and the vitriol he faced was the pain and raw anger at a trophyless quarter of a century.

It was a shambolic end to another fruitless visit across Stanley Park, an ill-timed reminder of the failings of previous regimes, with Mason Holgate the only other player in blue to briefly acknowledge the travelling hordes who had just witnessed a surrender.

Liverpool had won a game they didn’t want to win, was the view of many Evertonians who headed off into the darkness – at a fraction of the cost it took to assemble a collection of individuals who were unable to muster a shot on target after the 27th minute.

Everton’s wait for silverware now stands at 25 years. The vast majority of the Liverpool players who took the applause from a raucous Anfield at the final whistle – as the Kop reminded their vanquished opponents of their last trophy in 1995 – were not even born when Paul Rideout rose to win Everton the FA Cup against Manchester United that year.

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Six of Liverpool’s starting XI were 22 or younger. By the end, Jurgen Klopp had fielded three debutants, and there were four teenagers on the pitch in red when Yasser Larouci replaced James Milner after just nine minutes.

Everton created the better chances but could in no way say with any great assertion they were dominant during a first half in which Carlo Ancelotti stood like a well-heeled lawyer with his arms outstretched for large periods, no doubt questioning the decision-making of his players.

He would be in for a shock as Everton’s performance lurched into an unmitigated embarrassment as the scale of the Italian’s task was laid bare. Now, he turns judge.

“I am not used to speaking to the players after the game, but I am going to speak to them about this,” said Ancelotti after slipping to back-to-back defeats for the first time as Everton boss.

“I think in the second half we were not able to keep the right ideas on the pitch as we did in the first half, when we had [the] opportunity to score. The fact we didn’t score in the first half affected the performance in the second half, which was not good enough.”

Lack of cutting edge costs Everton

Liverpool’s youngsters grew into the game and took confidence from Everton’s lack of cutting edge in front of goal. Adrian had been forced into three good saves during the opening period, but none of those efforts from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate nor Richarlison severely tested the stand-in goalkeeper.

Ancelotti made just two changes from the side that had lost 2-1 to Manchester City on New Year’s Day, one of whom, Morgan Schneiderlin, had not featured for nearly a month due to injury. As the fatigue began to creep in, Klopp sensed an opportunity to turn the screw in midfield as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was introduced with 70 minutes gone.

It took Curtis Jones 60 seconds to have an emphatic impact in a more advanced role. The manner of the strike, curled into the top corner, came as a hammer blow. In those final desperate 19 minutes, it looked as though each Everton player wore the scars of 21 years and 22 previous games without a win at Anfield.

Everton’s wait for success in numbers

Liverpool remain unbeaten in their last 23 home games against Everton in all competitions (W13 D10); they have beaten the Toffees twice at Anfield in the same season for the first time since the 1986-87 campaign.

Everton have never won away to Liverpool in the FA Cup in six attempts (D4 L2).

Everton have been eliminated from the FA Cup third round in four of the last six campaigns, as many as their previous 20 seasons beforehand.

Ancelotti’s arrival as Marco Silva’s successor has rightly been seen as a major coup for a club that has been underachieving for far too long, but the serial winner would not have accepted the role without the assurance that there will be money to spend.

Everton have been linked with several high-profile players following Ancelotti’s arrival at Goodison Park, with Real Madrid’s Colombian international James Rodriguez among the names in the frame.

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“I didn’t think about [transfers] until now,” Ancelotti said prior to the derby defeat. “Honestly before I want to check all of the players that we have here.

“We don’t have a lot of time because we have a lot of games, but I have an idea now and every day I will get to know my players better. If there is any possibility the club is happy to try to improve the squad if it is possible.”

Will Ancelotti fast-track his summer business?

The feeling among supporters is that business must now be made a priority this month, if nothing else, as a statement that the humiliation of being out of both cup competitions before the end of January is nowhere near good enough. And with the team just five points off seventh, and a potential European place, the campaign is far from irretrievable.

While the temptation will be to throw more money at the project, Ancelotti’s admittance that he spoke to his players following this chastening night should have revolved around creating a winning mentality and the steps needed to bring about a culture for success.

Furthermore, while Everton are in no immediate danger of breaching Financial Fair Play criteria, with the club pressing on with their proposed new £500m Bramley-Moore Dock stadium, the Goodison Park outfit are set to announce record financial losses, according to The Daily Telegraph.

‘Everton squad in need of a refresh’

After in excess of £100m was spent last summer under a previous regime, Ancelotti will instead look to offload fringe players this month and assess the remainder of his squad next summer ahead of his first full season in charge.

“Some of the players will need to go,” Sky Sports pundit Sue Smith said. “Cenk Tosun works hard and gets the club but it’s just not worked for him.

“There’s been poor signings so he’s going to have to do a bit of a refresh and get rid of those he doesn’t want.

“He really backs Dominic Calvert-Lewin but I do wonder if Everton still need to bring another striker in. January is often a time of panic buys, so unless it’s someone who you feel can really make an instant impact, it’s perhaps best to wait.

“It was difficult for Ancelotti to assess his squad during a hectic festive period as he tries to instil his way of playing, but you can see he wants to play out from the back.

“I just don’t feel that Everton have the players at the moment to do that. Yerry Mina was struggling in possession against Liverpool and he panicked on the ball.

“Seamus Coleman was among those taking too many touches, and that could be because there wasn’t enough movement in front of them, or perhaps it’s because they need to be more comfortable on the ball.

“It’s probably a combination of the two, so he may need to bring in a ball-playing centre-half. He needs to strengthen in midfield because of the number of injuries in that area.”

Does Sigurdsson have a future at the club?

Liverpool won the midfield battle with Pedro Chirivella and Adam Lallana, underlining Everton’s clear area of weakness that has been highlighted following injuries to Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, as well as Fabian Delph’s ongoing fitness issues.

Gylfi Sigurdsson struggled to cope alongside Schneiderlin and Ancelotti will be happy to shelve that failed experiment at the earliest opportunity.

Smith added on Sigurdsson: “You can’t doubt his quality on the ball, but he needs legs around him. It’s like Mesut Ozil at Arsenal. He needs his work horses around him in Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka.

“Everton need the players to protect the defence and Sigurdsson hasn’t got the tools to play in that position. The question now is whether Ancelotti decides if he can fit into his system. He was getting over-run by young, energetic players. Gbamin coming back from injury will be a huge boost but the problem is that he’s got a lot of players from three or four different managers.

“Ancelotti won’t jump in and buy players Everton don’t need. Unless a bargain comes up, I think it would be best to leave it until the summer when he will have a better idea of the squad. I don’t think throwing money at it is the answer. That’s been the problem, where the wrong type of players have been signed. Carlo will need time and the Everton fans will give him it.”

The likes of Oumar Niasse and Tosun have no future on Merseyside, but no one can claim to be truly safe under the 60-year-old, who will certainly have his own targets and ideas, as he has already shown in the way he has tactically set up the side.

Theo Walcott, Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin and Coleman were all singled out for criticism as Everton ran out of legs and ideas on Sunday, but they are four senior professionals who will be hurting as much as anyone affiliated to the club on Monday morning.

Ancelotti is on a reported salary of £11m a year. As he prepares to sit down with Brands this week to draw up an action plan for the January transfer window, he is going to have to earn every penny.

How to follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.

Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day’s news with The Transfer Show.


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