There was a telling smile and a nod when Carlo Ancelotti addressed a thorny issue before his first Merseyside derby. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA via AP

There was a telling smile and a nod when Carlo Ancelotti addressed a thorny issue before his first Merseyside derby.

Ancelotti is winning friends at Everton and a first win for his club at Anfield since 1999 would make him an instant hero.

Had things worked out differently in 2015, though, the Italian could be well-seasoned in this fixture. When Liverpool jettisoned Brendan Rodgers, Fenway Sports Group considered Ancelotti. Some would tiptoe around such matters but Ancelotti was happy to discuss it and said they made the right decision to get the man he will meet tomorrow. ‘When I left Real Madrid, I had a chat with the owner,’ Ancelotti said. ‘They were looking for a manager but they made the right choice with Jurgen. He is doing fantastic work at Liverpool. Well done! Jurgen is my friend, a fantastic manager.

‘This game is a risk, as we are playing the world champions. But this is a fantastic challenge for us. I played in derbies in Rome and Milan. I know how different this game is.’ A few hours after the Italian had faced the media, across town Liverpool’s manager gave a eulogy to the 60-year-old and described how his influence had got Everton ‘on fire’. Certainly Klopp knows the challenge awaiting will be different to four weeks ago in the league, when Liverpool won 5-2. It was the final act for Marco Silva.

‘When Carlo came I thought, “If I had a party, could I invite the Everton manager?”’ Klopp said with a chuckle. ‘We respect each other. I’m not sure where he lives but the house next to me is free and that would be funny!’

Ancelotti watched that league game and has learned from it.

He said: ‘The defensive line of Everton was so high, they put some balls behind and created problems. If you keep the defensive line high, they are fantastic in attack with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.

Daily Mail