Carlo Ancelotti has said Everton should not be obsessed with ending the longest trophy drought in the club’s history but motivated by the opportunity in the Carabao Cup.
Everton have not won the League Cup in any guise and host Manchester United in Wednesday’s quarter-final seeking to go on and claim the club’s first silverware since 1995. Rather than feel burdened by history, however, Ancelotti believes his team should be inspired by the challenge of finally delivering a trophy to Goodison Park and by the sharp up-turn in form that has seen Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal defeated in the past three games.
“We have the ambition and a great, great motivation for this competition,” the Everton manager said. “There is not a lot of pressure from the fact that this club did not win for a long time. It is not an obsession, it is only a great motivation. I think we prepare this game in a good momentum.
“It is a really important competition because we are not so far from the final; in three games it is finished. We are there, we want to compete for this, we want to fight. The target is to reach the final but to do that we have to do a fantastic game tomorrow against one of the toughest teams in the Premier League who beat us here a few weeks ago.”
Bruno Fernandes orchestrated United’s 3-1 victory when the sides met last month and while Ole Gunnar Solskjær has spoken of resting the playmaker during this hectic schedule, Ancelotti remains wary of the threat he poses. “I learned that day that if you leave space for him we are dead,” he added. “We have to avoid leaving space because he is a fantastic player and the key point for Manchester United at this moment. We have to take care of this.”
Everton, who will again be without James Rodríguez due to a calf problem, remain one of the few Premier League clubs able to host 2,000 supporters as Covid-19 restrictions increase across the country. Ancelotti admits their backing helped during the home wins over Arsenal and Chelsea, but insists the return of fans is more important for society than an obvious sporting advantage.
“The fact you can listen to 2,000 supporters again after we were not able to have noise for six months is really good,” added the Blues manager. “The two games we won against strong teams [was] because the players are more focused, more concentrated and more motivated.
“The supporters helped us a lot, but I don’t consider it an advantage that we have fans. I consider only that it is a great start and the most important thing is to have all the fans back in the stadiums.”