Carlo Ancelotti says welcoming supporters back to Goodison Park represents a “new start” – and the presence of fans will aid Everton’s bid to beat in-form Chelsea on Saturday.
Manager Ancelotti is longing to experience a full Goodson again and urged Evertonians attending this weekend’s game to follow public health and safety protocols devised to ensure a successful occasion.
That follows the launch of The Game Plan - Everton's campaign to make sure fans attending the Club’s fixture with Chelsea this weekend - and all future home games throughout the season - are aware of the public health and safety requirements in the build-up to and on matchdays itself.
There will be 2,000 supporters in the stadium for Chelsea’s visit – in addition to two beneficiaries of Bill Kenwright’s gift of his Chairman’s seats – marking the first step towards the full return of crowds.
Ancelotti is not expecting Seamus Coleman to recover from his hamstring problem in time for the game but is confident Everton’s captain will be ready for next Wednesday’s trip to Leicester City.
Everton won four and drew one of their opening home five fixtures in all competitions.
But they host third-placed Chelsea aiming for a first Goodison victory in three matches following defeats by Manchester United and Leeds United.
“We are really pleased to have our supporters back,” Ancelotti told evertontv.
“I think, because of the fact we were without crowds, we lost points at home.
“The supporters are really important for us – they are going to help us have a good performance on Saturday.
“It is really important to follow the protocols, as we did [players and staff have adhered to strict regulations since football’s behind-closed-doors return in June].
“Our supporters have to do this.
“It is a new start towards having… all the supporters in the stadium.
“It is a fantastic gesture from our Chairman [donating tickets]. He always supports us.
“It is a really important start after a long time without crowds and supporters – and really good news for the football world.”
Everton launched its Game Plan campaign this week to promote the safe return of fans to Goodison.
All those successful in ticket ballots must produce evidence of a negative Covid-19 test at least 36 hours before arriving at the stadium.
They have to accept a Supporter Code of Conduct and complete a health questionnaire before attending the match.
Everton have four home games in 16 days, in addition to matches away against Leicester and Sheffield United, beginning with the Chelsea encounter.
Ancelotti, then, is mindful of the importance of keeping players fresh and intends to utilise his squad during a congested period.
The Italian’s plan to rotate raises the possibility of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has 11 goals from as many Premier League matches this season, sitting out a fixture.
“We are going to replace him with another striker [if Calvert-Lewin is rested at any juncture]," explained Ancelotti.
“That can be [Cenk] Tosun, he is fit after the injury.
“It can be Richarlison, sometimes. There is no doubt about this.
"This is a really important period, we are going to play every three days against really important teams: Chelsea, Leicester, Arsenal, Manchester United.
“All the players will be involved. The fact we have a game every three days, I am going to rotate the players, as I did in the first period of the season when we played a lot of games and won all the games.
“I have confidence that playing every three days, we can manage the situation better than once a week.”
Coleman is reaching the final stages of his recovery from the injury that has sidelined him since the game with Manchester United once month ago.
“He is back, he started to train, partially, with the team today [Thursday],” added Ancelotti.
“He feels good, I don’t think he will be available for the game against Chelsea but for the next game against Leicester, he will be available."