Carlo Ancelotti admitted Tuesday that he is in two minds as to whether winning a first ever League Cup or securing Champions League football for the first time since 2005 is more important to his Everton team.
The 61-year-old Italian is adamant however that he will select his strongest side when Everton host Manchester United in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final.
Ancelotti has turned Everton’s fortunes round in the year he has been in charge, to the extent that they sit fourth in the Premier League, five points off leaders and local rivals Liverpool. However, Ancelotti is also well aware that the last time Everton fans celebrated winning a trophy was the 1995 FA Cup.
“I don’t know what is best,” said Ancelotti at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference. “We are here now and we want to fight for this, tomorrow is an important game. It is the quarter-final of an important competition that Everton have never won in its history, so we are not far away. We are in a good moment, we are going to play against a very tough opponent that beat us a few weeks ago, so it is a great opportunity to show the momentum.”
Ancelotti who guided Chelsea to the domestic double in the 2009/10 season but missed out on the League Cup said he treats it as an important competition unlike some of his Premier League rivals who field weakened teams.
“We give a lot of importance to this competition,” he said. “We are into the quarter-finals, we are two games from the final, so it would be fantastic to play for us to play a final if possible. So we are going to put out our strongest team.”
Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez, though, will be missing from the starting line-up for a fourth successive match. The 29-year-old is not ready to return to full training after suffering a calf muscle injury.
“We are sad because he’s an important player,” said Ancelotti. “But if he is not ready then we don’t have to force him to come back, we just have to wait and allow him to recover well and properly. This season finishes in May, all the players need to have a proper rehab to avoid problems in the future.”