Duncan Ferguson said he cannot wait to begin work under Carlo Ancelotti after the Italian was appointed as the permanent Everton manager.
The Toffees announced on Saturday morning that Ancelotti had signed a four-and-a-half-year deal and the 60-year-old was in the stands to see his new club play out a drab 0-0 draw with Arsenal at Goodison Park.
Ancelotti’s CV is a who’s who of Europe’s biggest clubs but he has taken on a very different challenge in trying first to haul Everton away from the bottom of the Premier League table and then re-establish them as a team that can challenge for a top-six place.
The final game of Ferguson’s temporary tenure was forgettable, but the Scot has re-energised the club over the last four matches, with his only defeat coming on penalties against Leicester in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
Ancelotti immediately confirmed he would be keeping Ferguson as part of his backroom staff, although his exact role remains to be decided.
“I think I said from day one that we wanted to bring in a world-class manager and we’ve got one, so I can’t wait to start working with him on Monday,” said Ferguson.
“I have had a word with the boss, he looks happy with me, I’m still in a job and I’m sure he’ll spell out exactly what he wants from me on Monday.”
Ancelotti went into the dressing room after the match, and Ferguson added: “He made a lovely speech, it was fantastic how he spoke to the players.
“Everybody’s on board. I’m sure he was very proud of the team today. With him being in the stand, that’s going to give us a lift, that probably helped us.”
Ferguson acknowledged it was a very scrappy contest, saying: “A point, that’s the positive thing from the match. We kept a clean sheet. It’s a long time since we’ve kept one of them.
“I thought we struggled a wee bit in the final third, but of course the team worked incredibly hard, they kept a good shape, restricted Arsenal to not too many chances. I think fatigue had set in a little bit.”
Ferguson’s status as a true Everton hero has only been enhanced over the past couple of weeks and he held his arms aloft to all sides of the stadium as fans chanted his name after the final whistle.
He will not be offering Ancelotti unsolicited advice, though, adding: “I can’t be saying too much to a legendary manager like that.
“I’m sure he’s got his opinions. He told me he’s watched the last three or four games. He knows there’s a good spirit there, a good base. I think he’ll introduce his playing style into the team, but I’ll be there to support him in any way I can.”
It was an unusual game in that both the men standing on the touchline had their new bosses watching from the stands.
Mikel Arteta was announced as the new manager of Arsenal on Friday and, like Ancelotti, he will officially take charge on Sunday.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 21, 2019
Freddie Ljungberg has only won one of his six games in temporary charge, but said: “I feel we’ve taken strides in how we want to play football.
“I liked that we dominated the game, put a very, very young side out as well and they fought so hard. Well done to the boys and it’s a point.
“I know Mikel is a great coach and he will make us even better.”
Ljungberg, meanwhile, explained his stance on Mesut Ozil, who is sidelined with a foot injury but would have been left out of the squad anyway after reacting furiously to being substituted against Manchester City last weekend.
“I wanted to make a stand that that’s not what I accept from an Arsenal football player,” he said.