Few gigs in English football have been quite as tough in recent years as being an Everton fan.
Back in the 2013/14 season, Roberto Martínez led Everton up to fifth in the Premier League table. They were ahead of Manchester United and Spurs, and having finished sixth the year before, they looked set to make a splash in the top four.
No less than seven years later and Everton fans might finally be getting the chance to see their side do exactly that.
Ever since the summer of 2014, Everton have been trying to show their intent in the transfer market. The Toffees have thrown plenty of money around on a huge number of signings, but there has always been one piece of the puzzle missing.
On December 21, 2019, Everton found that piece: manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Everton had been sorely missing somebody with Ancelotti's winning mentality and desire to dominate. Martínez wasn't that man, Ronald Koeman wasn't that man, Sam Allardyce wasn't that man and Marco Silva was definitely not that man.
After six years of flattering to deceive, Everton got tired of mediocrity and stunned the world by landing Ancelotti, who wasted little time in sorting the Toffees out. When he arrived, the team were down in 16th, and that was far from good enough for Ancelotti.
The boss quickly rounded up his squad and infected them with his passion and desire for improvement, and they managed to climb up to 11th and salvage some respect from what could have been a bitterly disappointing year.
So, how has Ancelotti done it? Well, the answer is actually far more simple than you might think.
The Italian isn't famed for intricate tactics or gruelling training sessions. Instead, what Ancelotti does is exude positivity. He makes sure his players feel confident in themselves, and that optimism breeds impressive results on the field. When he talks, you listen.
Players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Lucas Digne, and even Richarlison have reached a new level under Ancelotti - a level which fans always knew was there somewhere - but things went even further this summer.
Buoyed by the progress of the second half of last season, Everton backed Ancelotti in the transfer market by bringing in the likes of James Rodríguez, Allan and Aboulaye Doucouré to make the squad stronger. They're now a complete unit.
At the back, Mason Holgate impressed before his injury, while Michael Keane and even the inconsistent Yerry Mina have both stepped up their games to new levels, but the real star of the show is Digne, who can be seen flying up and down the pitch and whipping in some of the finest crosses you'll ever find.
In midfield, Allan can anchor with the best of them, allowing Doucouré and André Gomes to shine either side of him. That's the perfect blend of defensive power, undying stamina and creativity.
However, the biggest impact can be seen in attack, where Richarlison continues to shine and Rodríguez has undoubtedly proven that he can still hang after a turbulent spell at Real Madrid. The duo have been outstanding, but the clear winner is Calvert-Lewin.
The hype surrounding the Englishman had extinguished during Silva's reign, with Calvert-Lewin seen as a young player with a lot of work to do. Now, he's one of the league's top scorers.
Ancelotti's Everton are a complete side who are feeling confident and dangerous, and that has been abundantly clear during their first three games of the season. They've bagged eight goals so far, and then there's another eight in their two Carabao Cup games as well.
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