Former Everton midfielder Gareth Barry believes Carlo Ancelotti’s addressing of the Toffees’ weak underbelly will now allow them to “bully” other sides.
The arrival of midfielders Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure has given Ancelotti a solid base in front of the back four, rectifying an issue which has cost them dearly in the past.
“Ancelotti has been really clever, he spent a bit of time last season realising what he needed and what he has found out is they are probably a little bit soft down the centre,” Barry told the PA news agency.
“What he has done with the two midfielders in Allan and Doucoure is strengthen that area.
“Both of them will be looked at to add steel and strength to maybe bully other teams but I think both of those midfielders are capable of adding something going forward.
“The fans will be aware other teams have been able to play through the middle of the park too easily and Ancelotti, as an experienced manager, will have picked that up and for him to sign two players in that area shows where his head was.
“Judging by the first game away at Tottenham (a 1-0 win, their first over a ‘big six’ side since 2013) they have hit the ground running.”
Ancelotti will not settle for anything less than European qualification this season, with Everton having been dragged into a relegation battle last December under Marco Silva before the Italian came in and turned things around.
Barry believes he is right to do so.
“You can’t get carried away on that one performance,” said the recently-retired midfielder, whose two former clubs Everton and West Brom meet at Goodison Park on Saturday in a match available on the BT Sport Monthly Pass.
“I do like it when mangers are setting the targets high, you can’t knock him for that.
“That should be their target. I think they are in a good place and there is no reason why they can’t be pushing the top six.
“Consistency is always going to be the key. Everton seem to have a run of games with great results and then you see them not wining three or four games and in the Premier League that catches up with you quickly
“If they keep those key players fit I am sure they can be challenging.”
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