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Ancelotti without key Everton component upon Premier League return

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He was caught on camera mouthing the word "wow".

Less than an hour earlier, he had talked about Everton's "very passionate fan base".

Two days later, he referred to the "atmosphere of the supporters". After his first game in charge, he raved about the noise inside Goodison.

And regularly, throughout his time in charge, he has spoken about the importance of the supporters and embracing the power of Goodison.

Today, six months on from his appointment, he said: "...we know that behind us is fantastic supporters and fans that help us to be motivated."

The issue is that if, and when, the Premier League returns after the suspension then the supporters won't be there.

Certainly not for the remaining five home games of Everton's season and, maybe, for much of next season too.

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Carlo Ancelotti will be conflicted by football's return. He wants it back, he misses it, but it won't be the game he loves because it won't have one of the key components - the fans.

And at Goodison, that will make a hell of a difference. And for Ancelotti it also makes his job tougher. The news, this week, that Everton had set about the refunds process for all season and match ticket holders, confirmed the direction the game has been heading in for some time.

A penny for his thoughts, too, on the first round of Bundesliga matches.

Ancelotti hasn't simply been paying lip service to Everton's fan-base when talking about their passion and the atmosphere they can create, he has meant every word and he places high value on the influence they can have.

For him, it's key.

Harnessing that support at Goodison is all part of the plan and now the Italian will be without it for the foreseeable future.

All managers are in the same boat, of course, and where behind closed doors takes with one hand, it can give an advantage with the other when teams are playing away from home.

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But Goodison is, and has traditionally been, the foundation of Everton's season and widely credited as one of the toughest grounds to play at.

Under Ancelotti, the Blues have taken 11 out of a possible 15 points at home.

If the Premier League comes back then first up at the Old Lady will be Liverpool. Taking them on without the support of Goodison makes an already difficult task significantly harder.

Leicester, Bournemouth, Villa and Southampton are to follow. Winnable games, for sure, but much harder without the Blues' supporters.

But, soberingly, it may be something Everton, the fans and Ancelotti, have to get used to.

The Italian has repeatedly talked about being attracted to the club because of its ambition, tradition and supporters.

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Two of those three elements will still be there, inside Goodison, if and when the Premier League comes back but how Ancelotti tries to make up for the absence of the third........surely, it's an impossible task?

One of the most experienced and most decorated managers in the world may be able to use all of his ability to draw more out of his players than he has done so far but in replacing the driving force of the fans, he's trying to push water uphill.

Everton's away form has stunk for a long time and in Ancelotti's six league trips so far, Everton have returned with seven out of a possible 24 points.

But while teams get used to the idea of playing with no fans inside their grounds - for however long that may be - it will present the Blues' with an opportunity to improve that record.

Beyond that, who knows how this will shape up. One of the well-worn phrases of the crisis has been a 'new normal'. Maybe playing behind closed doors will turn the balance of home and away form on its head.

Either way, and as Ancelotti will testify, it won't be the game he knows, that's for sure.




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