Davide Ancelotti's Exclusive Insight Into Everton's Training Return

Davide Ancelotti has revealed the extraordinary detail underpinning every element of Everton’s training sessions as the Blues begin plotting their return to Premier League action.

Football was indefinitely suspended in March following the coronavirus outbreak and a return to training this week was permitted only on the proviso clubs followed a stringent set of rules.

Everton assistant manager Ancelotti is working alongside his father Carlo and fellow coaches to form a plan within those guidelines – which restrict sessions to 75 minutes, impose social distancing measures and allow players to work in groups of no more than five – that will soon allow players to operate at “maximum intensity”.

Initially, however, the overriding objective is to prevent injuries as Everton’s squad start group work after more than two months training alone.

Devising coherent and invigorating sessions, while avoiding repetition, “stimulates the creativity of the coach”, in the view of Ancelotti, who came to Goodison Park with father and manager Carlo in December.

Talking to evertonfc.com, Davide Ancelotti explained: 

- How Everton’s mini training groups were determined.

- The three-stage breakdown of each session.

- The number of moving parts involved in preparing sessions which comply with Premier League regulations.

- Why this period of training is structured differently from a standard pre-season programme.

- How players’ progress is being scientifically monitored every day.

- The two salient pieces of information he acquired watching the Bundesliga’s restart last weekend.

“We have three different training areas, each manned by a group of staff, for the players to work through,” started Ancelotti.

“The first is in the indoor pitch, where the players go directly from the car park for the first part of training, which focuses on strength and injury prevention.

“Then they go to an Academy pitch to do physical drills with the fitness coaches: runs and other cardiovascular exercises.


“The final part of their training is on the first-team pitch with the manager, Duncan [Ferguson, Davide Ancelotti’s fellow assistant boss] and I.

“That work is more position specific. We divided the players into positions and each group has its own drills.

“The first and second groups include two central defenders and two full-backs.

“Group number three is the central midfielders, the wingers are in the fourth group and group five is our strikers.

“The first group starts at 9am, the last group leaves Finch Farm at 1pm.

"Players following rehabilitation programmes arrive at 11am.

“Every player has his own recovery shake to take home after training.

“Physically it is tough [for coaches].

“We [Davide and Carlo Ancelotti and Ferguson] are on the pitch for five sessions of 30 minutes each.

“It is not easy with only four players to do something tactically but we try to do as much as possible and always work on our football principles.”

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08:23

EVERTON CAPTAIN COLEMAN DETAILS TRAINING RETURN

Blues were back at USM Finch Farm on Wednesday.


Everton’s fitness and medical teams, in unison with manager Ancelotti, were drawing up skeleton plans for first-team training while away from the Club.

It was impossible to prepare with any certainty until Premier League stakeholders signed off return-to-training protocols, however, and Everton are adopting a degree of flexibility to their short-term approach.

Staff meet via Zoom in the afternoon to review sessions and plot the following day’s work.

“We plan the session on video calls the day before and decide the materials we will need for each of the three areas,” said Davide Ancelotti, who explained keepers are assigned a particular group for stages one and three of training but divert to work one-on-one with goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly during stage two [Jordan Pickford was part of the central midfielders' group on day one].

“I also speak with Duncan and my father on the pitch about what we need for the following day.

“With the goalkeeper coach, for example, I had a video call on Wednesday afternoon to tell him the kind of training we would do on Thursday.

“We tell the kit men our plans and they put out everything for when we arrive – every item we use is cleaned every day.

"The rule is you have to be there 15 minutes before starting, so I arrive at 8.45am and we have time to prepare the third pitch for the first group of players.

"We leave straight after the final session and every three days, you step in the car and before you go home pass through the COVID-19 test.

“It is challenging for a coach to do training like this on the pitch.

“It stimulates the creativity of the coach to find something different every day.

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09:01 Tue 19 May 2020

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“I enjoy it.

“I don’t know if it is the most difficult coaching situation I have experienced.

“The first year I trained in Italy, one time I had 30 kids on an indoor pitch – so with these kinds of players it is easy.

“Every drill you explain, they understand, it is quick and they always do it really well.

“The first day went really well and we want to keep improving everything.”

Ancelotti concedes social distancing rules impose “limitations” on training potential and, in league with his fellow coaches, is conjuring new drills which conform to previously inconceivable regulations.

Elements of the players’ daily work remain untouched, however, specifically the data they receive following each session.

Those numbers monitoring players’ progression are similarly employed by coaching staff to inform planning.

But, explained Ancelotti, the task of devising schedules is complicated by the absence of a set date for the resumption of competitive football, a factor compelling Everton to advance their players’ conditioning faster than would be the case in a typical pre-season.

“You need to change the plan a little bit [from a normal pre-season], go a little bit faster because we don’t know when we have to play in the Premier League," said Ancelotti.

“If you don’t have a day to start the competition, it is not easy to plan training.

“It is better to go day-by-day, always monitoring the players’ condition in training and with the data.

“We have GPS for the players, all the usual data.

“We need to follow this process because we cannot plan for a long period.

“Everyone came back in good shape but it is not possible to be match-fit after two months at home, they all need to improve their condition.


“It is important to do different drills every day and that is the most difficult part for the coaches – along with the organisation of training.

“Without contact, it is not easy to have competition.

“But we try our best to make it enjoyable for the players – it is really important to have competition in training in the form of some games and we try to invent new drills.”

Ancelotti worked with his father at the formidable continental quartet of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli.

At the age of 30 he can reflect on domestic championship success in France and Germany, coupled with the Champions League victory he enjoyed at Real Madrid in 2013/14.

He knows first-hand, then, what a player excelling at the game’s summit looks like.

And right now, Ancelotti insists Everton must mix the need to prepare players in relatively quick time with a heavy measure of caution.

Tactical work, meanwhile, will be supplemented by video meetings which began when players and coaching staff were working remotely.

“We will keep going with our tactical video sessions, as we did during lockdown,” said Ancelotti.

“The most important thing in the first physical sessions is to avoid any kind of injury.

“We are not pushing the players too much.

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06:48

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“We are trying to be progressive, of course, we need to reach maximum intensity in training because competition can come early.

“But our goal in these first sessions is to avoid injuries.

“The players liked being back but it is only the first phase.”

Ancelotti was on his sofa to study the Bundesliga football played last weekend, seeing Borussia Dortmund thump Schalke 4-0 in Saturday’s Ruhr derby and watching former club Bayern stroll to victory at Union Berlin 24 hours later.

His initial impression that games featured fewer tackles than normal was supported by statistics which showed the number dropped from an average 33.5 per game pre-lockdown to 30.5 on the first weekend back.

Additionally, Ancelotti noted: “Without the crowd, you can see more clearly if there is a technical difference between the teams.”

Given Everton’s partisan home support and fantastic backing on the road, Ancelotti’s observation will feed into preparations for this season’s planned resumption behind closed doors.

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05:01

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“It will be hard to play without our fans, we did really well at Goodison this season and that is because the fans push us a lot,” said Ancelotti.

“Psychologically, it will be very important to be strong.

“But from a technical and tactical point of view our team can play against every kind of opponent.

“Dortmund is a better team and has better players than Schalke at the moment and you could see the difference.

“Without motivation from their supporters, the teams on not such a high level will find it difficult.

“For Union Berlin to have a chance against Bayern, for example, they need the crowd.

“The difference was too big and they could not fill the gap without their fans.”

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