It has been a challenging week for me. I was booked in for a five-hour operation at Uppsala University Hospital, 07.00 Thursday morning. I went to the hospital elated after watching Everton sweep aside West Ham 4 – 1 in the EFL Cup the previous evening. This was Everton’s sixth consecutive victory, having won their first six games of the season for the first time since 1938. During manager Carlo Ancelotti’s press conference yesterday afternoon, prior to today’s game against Brighton. Carlo Ancelotti was asked about six wins that no other Everton manager had achieved in the last 82 years. Carlo smiled and related to the attentive journalists “Well I said there is a lot of reasons, first that the new signings improved the squad. Improved the quality, the players are more motivated. There is more ambition. We started well, the atmosphere is good… er but er (smiles) but I know this is going to finish, this beautiful bubble where everything is OK, where everything is perfect is going to finish.”
Carlo just reminds the fanbase, that of course, Everton will lose a game in the not too distant future and they must be on their guard in the game against Brighton, a side that are playing a very attractive brand of football under Graham Potter. Potter, in his press conference prior to today’s game, referred to Ancelotti as a Legend. Carlo reacted by saying he still felt young and active in the game and maybe that accolade is a little early. Though earlier this week Ancelotti was voted best manager over the last 50 years by Paris St. Germain. A living, active, and still young legend: Carlo Ancelotti.
Laying waiting for my operation I was content and calm. It cannot be underestimated, the impact of such a feel-good factor that living in this beautiful bubble can have. I am sure many Everton supporters are walking on a cloud at the moment. We are ordinary people leading very ordinary lives, but being an Evertonian is a passion, results have a direct impact on our mood. My friend in Liverpool Paul Adams once described football as “Twenty-two millionaires kicking a pig’s bladder” Paul has no time for football. I think Carlo agrees with Paul to some extent and insists his twenty-two millionaires (actually there are over 30 in the first team squad.) give the fanbase the belief that the players are giving 100%. Carlo understands the City of Liverpool and he respects the fans. That is why this beautiful bubble is such a wonderful place to be.
We supporters have not felt that commitment for a long time, and that is why Carlo Ancelotti has captured the heart of every Evertonian.
I live in Sweden and in Carlo Ancelotti’s book Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches Carlo lays out how much of an influence the managerial style of Nils Liedholm was on his development as a manager. It was Liedholm who as the manager of Roma in 1979, gave the twenty-year-old Ancelotti his debut for Roma.
Liedholm had the nickname Il Barone. Due to the fact that he had married into Italian nobility, his marriage to Maria Lucia. The nickname could just have easily been given to him for his stately appearance and noble bearing whilst playing with his legendary teammates Gunnar Gren and Gunnar Nordahl, later nicknamed ‘Gre-No-Li’. The ‘Gre-No-Li’ Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl, Nils Liedholm shaped the game in Italy: how the game was played and the mentality required to play that way.
In Carlo’s book he writes about Liedholm:
“…in the training ground you do not speak badly about your teammates. These were his non-negotiable rules. As must be obvious. I learned a lot from Liedholm. It was, and still is, my most important reference in football.”
“As relaxed as Liedholm was, there were still issues about which he would be very strict: you have to respect your teammates; you have to respect the manager; you don’t fight.”
So, Sweden has had a big influence on Italian football and Carlo Ancelotti. Carlo after 82 years has led Everton to victories in their first six games of the 2020/21 season. No wonder I was so calm and content “in a beautiful bubble” in Uppsala University Hospital, as Josefin my nurse, wheeled me to the operating theatre, to meet my surgeon Per Olof Eriksson; I felt in very good hands.
So we go into this afternoon’s game looking for a straight seventh win of the season. Will this beautiful bubble persist or will it burst at the hands of Brighton? I predict a 3-1 win for the Blues. Long may the bubble be beautiful.