It was in 2016, when Carlo Ancelotti was Bayern Munich manager, that Farhad Moshiri explained Ronald Koeman’s appointment at Everton by describing the north-west of football as “the new Hollywood of football”.
Maybe the old Hollywood has struck back: while Koeman is now Barcelona manager, Real have rehired Ancelotti, plucking him from mid-table in the Premier League.
Two former Everton managers are in charge of arguably the world’s two biggest clubs while another, Roberto Martinez, leads the planet’s top-ranked international side, Belgium.
It poses questions if something is inherently wrong at Goodison Park. Perhaps none really failed at Everton, but the last manager to truly succeed there was David Moyes, who they recruited from Preston.
Ancelotti’s sudden departure caps Everton’s wretched 2021. Second on Boxing Day, they finished 10th. Their season had long appeared a case of what might have been; now his reign is one of what will never be.
The historic wins at Liverpool and Arsenal and the admirable victories at Tottenham, Leicester and West Ham were cancelled out by wretched home form. Their campaign became a false dawn.
There is a theory that, while he can win knockout competitions, Ancelotti’s lofty reputation disguises a habit of merely doing roughly as well as he should in league seasons with the players at his disposal. Arguably, though, Everton underachieved. They had standout triumphs over 90 minutes, but not over 38 games.
Now they have gone back to square one, searching for a manager again. Eighteen months ago, it felt surprising they had the pulling power to get Ancelotti. Now they lacked the appeal to keep him.
Eighteen months ago, the chairman, Bill Kenwright, advocated returning to Moyes. The less glamorous option, instead, outperformed Ancelotti this season and is likely to sign an extended deal with West Ham.
The choice of Eddie Howe as a boyhood Evertonian appeals to the sentimental Kenwright.
Moshiri, who exerts more influence, has an unfortunate habit of listening to agents, which may benefit Nuno Espirito Santo, famously super agent Jorge Mendes’ first client. It is a moot point if it works for Everton.
Certainly they have looked for managerial shortcuts in their quest to rival their north-west peers; and yet, damningly, they have no top-six finishes under Moshiri.
There has not been a coherent, consistent vision with very different appointments; the common denominator between Koeman, Allardyce and Ancelotti might be that each could be called a charismatic, experienced pragmatist. Marco Silva was supposed to be the rising star, but Everton fell on his watch.
Ancelotti's last game a 5-0 defeat at Man City: the ratings
They are weighed down by past mistakes in the transfer market. That Ancelotti’s four main purchases were all at least qualified successes brought improvement when Everton had their best 11 available, but the fault lines in the squad were too often apparent. Also, the capacity to underperform and frustrate. His Everton veered between excellent and dismal.
His legacy will be slighter than Everton anticipated when they appointed him though Ben Godfrey and Abdoulaye Doucoure should be appreciated by Ancelotti’s successor; Allan, too, if an Ancelotti protege from his Napoli days stays.
James Rodriguez represented one of the most glamorous signings in Everton’s history and his best was brilliant but his commitment felt lacking when he departed before the end of the season, only to then fail to make Colombia’s Copa America squad. Without Ancelotti, does his long-term ally remain?
An expensively compiled mishmash of a squad presents a challenge to Ancelotti’s replacement.
There appears no ideal candidate – the case for Rafa Benitez is undermined by his Liverpool past – but even hiring someone with Ancelotti’s track record was no one-stop solution. He left 18 months into a 4.5 year-deal, leaving Everton trapped in a cycle of instability where the gulf between ambition and reality remains huge.