Carlo Ancelotti believes in the “beauty” of the FA Cup…and insists winning it ranks alongside the Premier League in terms of prestige.
For the Everton manager that means lifting the trophy is one of the most difficult things to achieve in European football, because no other Cup competition comes close to matching it across the continent.
Ancelotti should know. He has won trophies in Italy, Spain, Germany and France, as well as England, and he is well versed in the magic of the Cup…and so are his players.
“The players know the difficulties and the beauty of this competition, maybe better than me,” he explained. “I think that as a domestic competition the FA Cup is the most important, compared to the other countries.
“In Italy the Italian Cup is not so important. Here to win the FA Cup is like to win the Premier League. So that makes it very difficult to win. We know how difficult, but we are working on this, we are working hard on this.”
Ancelotti will resist the temptation to use the cup as a chance to rest his players, insisting he is acutely aware of how much a trophy would mean to Everton fans.
He will give both James Rodriguez and Jordan Pickford time to recover from injuries, assessing both after training on Tuesday afternoon, but he has promised fans his side have a real desire to deliver the club’s first trophy in 26 years.
“I know how much Evertonians want to win trophies. What I can say, for sure, is we are doing everything to try to have trophies here as soon as possible,” he explained.
“These players have a great desire to be competitive, to fight for the top, to play to try to win Cups and so at the end they are really young and they have the desire to have a fantastic career.
“You can have a fantastic career winning trophies and compete for the top. We are working on this, I don’t know if this season is the right time.”
Jose Mourinho’s Spurs stand in the way of Everton and a first quarter final in five years, and Ancelotti believes it is a tough start to a period during the next 10 days that will be “crucial” to the Blues’ season.
“Now we are really focused on the game tomorrow, to reach the quarter-finals is really important for us. Tottenham is still a fantastic team. They have everything, quality, strength , good organisation, defensively offensively, they have a good manager.
“I think our idea of football is really close, it is an honour for me to be compared to Jose – for me to be compared to his style of football is an honour. I think that Mourinho’s team are always in balance, they are doing a good job defensively and offensively.”