On this evidence there is plenty of work to do for Carlo Ancelotti andMikel Arteta. Both were in the directors ’box at Goodison Park and got a close-up look at why their new teams have been struggling this season.
Ancelotti wore that circumspect look he bears whether he has won the Champions League or been defeated in a pre-season friendly, while Arteta was sandwiched between Arsenal directors and his expression never strayed from serious.
They watched a game short on quality and goalmouth action, aside from a superb save from Jordan Pickford to deny a winner for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
There was no hint of the “Caretaker Derby” becoming a carefree, open final game for Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg before they handed over the reins to thePremier League’s newest managerial appointments.
In the final seconds of the game the pair spoke while the ball was still in play, Ljungberg’s hand cupping his mouth and Ferguson with his arm around his counterpart.
“I was telling I hoped the whistle would go because we were all happy with a draw,” said Ferguson. “It wasn’t a great game so let’s get it finished.”
Ferguson’s suit, sweatband and lucky watch from the late Howard Kendall now goes back in the cupboard but he expects to be part of Ancelotti’s staff. The Scot has overseen memorable performances against Chelseaand Manchester United, a thrilling comeback against Leicester but this game will not be included in the highlights reel of the season.
Ljungberg’s swansong included a bold team selection including a starting line-up with an average age of 90. 6 and included teenagers Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith-Rowe and Bakayo Saka, who filled in at left-back to solve Arsenal’s injury problems.
Mesut Ozil had a foot injury but would have been dropped anyway after his angry reaction at being substituted last weekend against Manchester City. Ljungberg also had £ 72 million of talent unused on the bench with Nicolas Pepe overlooked for Joe Willock when Ljungberg wanted to make a change to try and brighten up a dull afternoon.
“We have a lot of talent but I wasn’t happy with the talent we put in,” Ljungberg. “They are a top, top team. They are very good. But you still need to run. You need to put in an effort.
“What I did here, I know they are young and some don’t have experience, some were making their Premier League debut, we had an – year-old winger playing at left-back.
“But, hey, they did really well away from home against Everton and dominated the game so we should be proud of that as a club.”
Arteta’s return to the club where he playedwas confirmed on Friday, then he traveled with the team and had another reunion on Merseyside . The Spaniard spent six years at Everton and staff from his other former club embraced him as he got off the coach.
He was in the changing room just before kick-off and after the final whistle after his team had earned a point.
“Mikel wants us to be brave, take responsibility and to work hard for each other. We’ll be working hard on his philosophy this week in training,” said Arsenal center-back Calum Chambers.
Arteta will be encouraged by a clean sheet – Arsenal’s first since the start of October – but going forward it was not the type of football the new manager has been used to while coaching at Manchester City. His youngsters were comfortable on the ball and found promising positions but were tentative and were reluctant to take risks.
When Gabriel Martinelli had their best sight of goal in the first half, he sliced wide with just Pickford to beat at an angle. With two new managers in the stands both sets of players looked scared to make a mistake, leading to periods where all the focus was in the stands.
And that was not just limited to the directors ’box. Arsenal supporters were clearly heard chanted “Arsenal Fan TV, get out of our club”. While AFTV are a powerful, militant outlet for disgruntled supporters, it appears there is an appetite for stability and support after falling so far off the pace from the Premier League’s high fliers.
Fans also sang “Mikel Arteta, he’s one of our own” and could have been traveling down the M6 with all three points but for Pickford’s save. In the only moment of excitement in the stalemate, Aubameyang clipped towards goal from the back post from a corner but Pickford clawed the ball away.
Ferguson’s final act as caretaker manager was to hook another of substitutes, as he did last week with Moise Kean at Old Trafford. This time Kean came on for Cenk Tosun, who had been introduced earlier following a hamstring injury to Alex Iwobi that is expected to rule him out of the Christmas fixtures. The Turkey striker did not look impressed as he headed down the tunnel.
“I can understand why they are upset but at the end of the day I make the decision,” said Ferguson. “I do it for the benefit of the team as I see it, it might be the wrong call or it might be the right call. As far as I’m concerned we’ve got another point and a clean sheet. ”