Seamus Coleman has been in football long enough that very little surprises him any more, but even he admits to having been left a little star struck by arguably the most impressive managerial appointment seen in the Premier League over the past 12 months.
Carlo Ancelotti has undoubtedly hit the ground running since taking over as Everton manager last week, and back-to-back victories in the space of three days have only served to embellish the feelgood factor that has swept the blue half of Merseyside since the Italian’s arrival.
The former Chelsea head coach has barely put a foot wrong since his re-introduction to the Premier League, his only moment of uncertainty on Saturday coming when the 60-year-old mistook a question about Moise Kean for one about David Moyes, before stopping himself from attempting to explain how he might rebuild the confidence of the Scot, rather than that of his reinstated forward.
“It’s an unbelievable appointment,” insisted Coleman after a goal in each half from Dominic Calvert-Lewin brought Newcastle’s four-month unbeaten home league run to an unceremonious halt.
The Republic of Ireland international added: “It’s so exciting. We have a world-class manager on board, and if you can’t learn and soak it all up from a man like Carlo Ancelotti, then you never will.
“We’ve all been given a great opportunity to grow and to move forward by learning from the best, someone who has done it all and who has a real presence about him.
It’s a massive opportunity for us to win some silverware and I’m sure someone of his stature will attract top players to the club.
Coleman had to make do with a late cameo at St James’ Park, having dropped to the bench as one of five changes given the indecently swift turn around following the 1-0 St Stephen’s Day victory over Burnley.
The 31-year-old’s belated introduction saw the visitors revert to the back three they had employed with equal success against Sean Dyche’s side.
It succeeded in protecting a lead restored by Calvert-Lewin’s 10th goal of the season, slid in at the far post at the end of a lightening-quick counter attack when Andy Carroll was dispossessed on halfway and the ball was swiftly channelled out for Richarlison to send in the kind of inviting low cross from the right on which any self-respecting forward should thrive.
Newcastle levelled just before the hour when Fabian Schar volleyed home Carroll’s knockdown from a Jetro Willems free-kick into the box, cancelling out Calvert-Lewin’s early angled drive. Ancelotti succinctly summed up his team’s resolute display in just four words. After a fifth match unbeaten, he reflected: “We had to suffer.”
Even with a three-time Champions League winner now at the helm, Coleman has witnessed too many false dawns in over a decade at Goodison Park to start tossing around trite predictions of the sky being the limit for a side who leapfrogged their vanquished opponents to climb back into the top half of the Premier League.
“Back-to-back wins are important and hopefully we can start looking up the table now,” added the full-back.
Everton return to action with the New Year’s Day trip to Manchester City in an intriguing battle of wits between Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, and Coleman said:
“I don’t want to get sucked into making big predictions because we’ve had good financial backing for a while now and things have not gone to plan.
We’re lucky to have the manager we now have, and we’ve got to look forward and see where it takes us, but everything seems in place now.