Carlo Ancelotti has claimed that his Everton side are edging closer to being able to challenge for the title, despite a disappointing end to the current campaign.
After a superb start to the season, the Toffees had at one stage looked like genuine top-four contenders, yet a drop-off in form in recent months has curtailed those Champions League ambitions, the club now with a slim chance of qualifying for next season’s maiden Europa Conference League.
While what is an already threadbare squad has no doubt been heavily impacted by injury, particularly in midfield, the club’s wretched home form has also been a real issue, their latest shock defeat to relegated Sheffield United ensuring that they end the season having picked up just 22 points from their 19 games at Goodison Park.
That dismal tally – which is the sixth-worst home record in the league – has been crucial to their slide down the table, with European football no longer a certainty heading into a final day clash with recently crowned Manchester City at the Etihad.
Ahead of that encounter, Ancelotti has boldly claimed that his side are on the right track to challenge for top spot in the league in the near future, the Italian insisiting that his side will be ‘more competitive’.
“I still believe we are on the right way to fight and compete for the first positions in the Premier League, considering what happened this season,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
“We were really more and more competitive at the beginning of the season. This season confirmed the fact that we were really competitive, above all against the strongest teams in the competition, against United, Liverpool, Chelsea.
“We got results from those games and that gave confidence to me and to the club for the future. The team has improved, and I am sure of this: the team will be more competitive.”