The most in-form striker in the Premier League at the moment, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been sensational for Everton this season helping the Toffees to finish at the top of the table going into the international break. It isn’t just good form however, there has been a massive improvement to his overall game from previous campaigns. The frontman has looked like a completely different player under Carlo Ancelotti who has helped unearth the real talent of Calvert-Lewin.
Last season there were flashes of a really lethal striker, and his poacher like instincts in the box were slowly starting to grow. After the sacking of Portuguese manager Marco Silva Everton appointed former club legend Duncan Ferguson as interim head coach and it was under the tutelage of the former Center Forward that Calvert-Lewin really began building steam. The appointment seemed to breath new life into a team that had only managed wins in games. It was the spark that the blue half of Merseyside needed to really kick off, in his first game in-charge Duncan Ferguson led the Toffees to a 3-1 victory over Chelsea with Calvert-Lewin scoring two goals as they won out convincingly.
The interim title to Duncan Ferguson meant that he would eventually be asked to step down once the club found the ideal Managerial candidate that came in the form of the Italian Carlo Ancelotti who was appointed in late December. The club had been wise to not immediately find a replacement for Silva and wait till they got the appointment spot on. Once Ancelotti joined it was clear for everyone that he rated Dominic Calvert-Lewin very highly and was already making plans for the striker. He rang praises in the media saying the player had the potential to be one of the greatest finishers for this club.
The belief shown by both his recent managers was the ember that flamed Calvert-Lewin’s rise. “He is on the path to become one of the division’s best strikers,” Ancelotti said in a press conference. Many dismissed his comments as just backing a player that has been out of touch, his recent performances has silenced those naysayers. His recent goalscoring frenzy is not just a flash in the pan, and the kind of form that he is in could see him pushing for the golden boot come the end of the season.
Ferguson, who is still regarded as one of the best headers of the ball, took it upon himself to help Calvert-Lewin perfect the technique of arriving in the box at the right time to be able to time the jump right and generate enough power on the headers. He coached the young Striker, and gave him the confidence to execute his abilities on the pitch. There was a resounding answer from the young striker who scored two in Duncan Ferguson’s first game as caretaker, He showed that he was most certainly improving and he was paying close attention to the tricks of the trade that Big Duncan had shared with him.
Ancelotti’s arrival and his willingness to play two strikers up front changed the scene at Goodison. Suddenly the front two found themselves on the end of more chances, but there was still something lacking in the final third the quality of the chance that came the way of the strikers needed to improve. The addition of James Rodriguez has done exactly that and his influence is clear right from matchday one. His arrival at the club has taken Calvert-Lewin to newer heights and he has pounced on the quality chances that his Columbian teammate has served up for him.
“I think the biggest thing [Ancelotti taught me] is to be more selfish in my movement and stay more central,” Calvert-Lewin told Sky Sports in speaking about his current manager and how he has helped improve him. He continued, “I had a tendency to run here, there and everywhere to try and help the team but at the end of the day, my job is to score goals and be the focal point for the team.” Calvert-Lewin is a natural finisher and Carlo Ancelotti said how he reminded him of Filippo Inzaghi because the two players have so much in common, but most importantly they both share the instincts of a goalscorer. An instinctive finisher, Ancelotti said.
“I had a fantastic striker in Inzaghi, who scored 300 goals and 210 with one touch, A striker has to be focused in the box and I think Calvert-Lewin understands really well because in the box he has speed, he jumps really high, he has power,” said Ancelotti. In Calvert-Lewin the Manager sees a striker that fits his system perfectly, someone with pace, power and the ability to find space in the box and someone that can then utilize those spaces to finish chances.
His aerial ability has been easy for all to see, but something that many viewers might have missed is the way he holds the ball up for his midfielders, or the widemen, or for his strike partner. Allowing them to move into spaces and then play passes through, on counter attacks his speed and determination to get into the box are a treat to watch and his attitude and work rate have been superb. The most important thing has been his willingness to listen to criticism and try to improve on it, and it is clear that he has kept his head down and focused on improving.
Under Marco Silva, Calvert-Lewin was played out of position, moved out to the wings to act as a forward, Silva failed to utilize his strengths, which left the striker with little room to showcase his best attributes. But the influence and coaching of Duncan Ferguson coupled with the teachings of the current manager have been very important in the striker’s development. The change in position has helped him greatly, but the hard work that the player has done cannot be ignored. This Everton side also looks much more like a Carlo Ancelotti side, dominant in possession and hard to break down when they are defending, the Italian is building something special at Goodison Park. Ancelotti has gotten the best out of the academy graduate so far and it seems like this tryst of the right manager and the right system means that Dominic Calvert-Lewin will continue to thrive.