Tom Davies has spoken of the lessons he is heeding from Carlo Ancelotti as he seeks to become a 'midfield dictator'.
The 21-year-old Academy graduate is closing in on his 100th first-team appearance for Everton – Davies is just four senior outings away from reaching that landmark – and his increasing maturity was underlined last season when he became the Blues’ youngest ever starting captain.
A player whose energy, dynamism and capacity to make dangerous surges forward from the middle of the park are often standout qualities, Davies has set out how he believes he can take his game to a new level, as he spoke of his excitement to work alongside Ancelotti.
“I want to get used to being in control of games, dictating games,” said Davies.
“If I can get control of the game and dictate how we play from midfield, that would be my ultimate goal.
“You do that in a number of ways: always being available and wanting to get on the ball, slowing down the game and speeding it up at the right times and, off the ball, by the way you press.
“I am learning how I can do those things in matches – and noticing situations in training and games where I do need to put my foot on the ball, to give everyone a breather.
“Press somebody and win the ball back and lift the crowd and the team. That would be the next thing for me to do.
“I watch the games to see where I’ve done well and what I can improve.
“I might see that I’ve forced a pass, or could have held the ball, or perhaps was under pressure and could have put the ball in behind. Watching back is an opportunity to learn.
“I’ll look at parts of games when we were under pressure and see why that was – maybe we weren’t showing for the ball enough.
“And I’ll look at other bits where we’ve done well and think how we can maintain those periods.”
Davies believes he is in an ideal environment to develop his game – and explained how Everton manager Ancelotti’s tactical input has already made its mark.
The midfielder has started 11 of Everton’s past 13 matches – the latest of those coming on New Year’s Day when the Blues travelled to Premier League champions Manchester City.
Having initially been named on the bench, Davies received a late call-up to the starting XI after Bernard suffered an injury in the pre-match warm-up.
Tasked with playing in an unfamiliar role on the left of midfield, Davies went on to deliver a polished performance.
He says his ability to adjust to a new position was testament to Ancelotti’s intelligent and progressive work on the training pitch.
“I wasn’t in the starting XI when we worked on shape, but the manager will switch you in and out so you’re ready if you need to come in,” says Davies.
“Playing on the left was unusual for me but he makes everything easy.
“If it wasn’t for the training days, I might have been a bit lost and unsure of my position.
“The way he sets up the team is the biggest change so far. It makes it easy to understand, I know what I need to do and where I have to go.
“His idea about the game is very clear.
“He is big on having the ball and pressing high.
“It lets you go and press people without worrying what’s behind you and you have options on the ball.
“Training is intense – we do a lot on smaller pitches and are working hard.”
During an illustrious career, Ancelotti has won five European Cups – two during his playing career and a further three as a manager.
He also lifted three Serie A titles during his time playing at Roma and AC Milan and has won league championships in four different countries as a manager.
Davies revealed he is savouring the opportunity to work under a boss with such a glittering track record.
“Having a manager like Carlo is brilliant for me,” he added. “It is important to learn how he thinks and what he wants.
“I heard he was a good player but don’t know too much about his playing career at first
“Everyone has seen what’s he’s done as a manager.
“And with what he achieved as a player, too, it shows how good he is at winning and the knowledge he’ll have.
“He’s done it as a player and manager.
“We all want to do those things and win trophies.
“If he can bring his winning mentality, it’s going to be significant for all of us.”