CARLO ANCELOTTI finds himself back on a farm.
Only this time he is not being asked to help grow pumpkins — but Toffees.
The new Everton boss started work at Finch Farm yesterday.
It may not be the best training ground, yet it is still a world away from the family farm in Italy where the seeds were sown for a football career.
Everton’s season so far has resembled a scene from Halloween, so it is just as well they appointed Ancelotti in time to host Burnley today.
He has always been potty about pumpkins. His family grew them on their farm in Reggiolo — 120 miles south of Milan — where Carlo remains a member of its pumpkin growers’ association.
A lifelong pal told SunSport: “He pays his subscriptions like everybody else. He’s a normal member who is proud of Reggiolo.”
Ancelotti even has pumpkins to thank for his life in football.
The pal added: “Carletto was not the strongest.
“He had to help his father on the farm when he wasn’t at school — and hated it as he wanted to play football.
“The only reason he did it was so he could eat pumpkins and Parmesan cheese to build up his strength.
“We used to joke he became a footballer thanks to the three Ps: Parmesan, Parma ham and pumpkins! He couldn’t eat enough of them. I’m surprised he did not turn orange!”
Ancelotti, 60, enjoyed a glittering playing career with Parma, Roma and Milan and won 26 caps for Italy.
But as a boy he was as impressive on a bike.
And if his cycling coach had got his way, Ancelotti could have been a contender in the Tour de France instead of a tour de force in football.
A family friend said: “He won many races. The local cycling coach wanted him to be professional but Carlo refused. He was only interested in being a footballer.”
After being told ‘On yer bike’ by Napoli, Ancelotti has now rocked up at Everton.
When he does get a spare moment you can expect to see him at the nearby Cavern and The Beatles’ Museum, as he — like all Reggiolo residents — is a massive fan of the Fab Four.
How does this reporter know this? Well, when Ancelotti was appointed Chelsea manager in 2009, I was despatched with photographer Darren Fletcher to Italy to do a backgrounder.
We hoped he may have bolted back to his home town.
When we arrived at a hotel in Reggiolo I asked the elderly receptionist if she knew the whereabouts of the Ancelotti family’s residence.
She gave us the directions to a farmhouse on the outskirts of the town.
As well as pumpkins, cheese and Ancelotti, Reggiolo is also famous for hosting the World Burping Championships.
After having a look around and taking some photographs, we returned to the town centre and had a snoop around, trying to glean some info from locals.
When we returned to our hotel later that afternoon, the old dear on reception told us a letter had been delivered.
It was from the Mayor, who said he had been told we had been asking about Ancelotti — and he wanted us to meet him in a local bar at 7pm sharp.
Worried we would soon be sleeping with the fishes or waking up next to a horse’s head, we entered the bar very nervously that evening.
But there was nothing to fear as the Mayor had gathered together all of Ancelotti’s close friends to regale us with tales of the manager.
They included school friends and members of the bar’s veterans football team, which he still turned out for in summer. Also there was the little old lady from the hotel, who turned out to be Ancelotti’s godmother.
The following morning she took us to see Ancelotti’s father Giuseppe and his sister at his home, where they showed us through all the baby photo albums and chatted for hours.
It was Papa Ancelotti’s first and last interview with a British newspaper as he sadly died soon after our trip, which ended that night with a magnificent ten-course dinner in a marquee on the pitch at Reggiolo FC — where Ancelotti started out.
The courses included fish, chicken, lamb, beef and horse! Each course was accompanied by a different wine.
When I asked a fellow guest if it would be OK for us to leave our car parked at the stadium overnight, he was puzzled as to why I could not drive it home.
When I said I was worried about getting arrested for drink-driving, he assured me it would not happen.
“How can you be so sure?” I asked. “Because I am the local police chief,” he answered.
As guests of honour, Fletch and I were told at the end of the meal we had to start the traditional sing-song.
When I said I did not know any Italian songs, one of my fellow diners said the whole town loved The Beatles and I should sing one of their tunes.
I was assured once I had belted out the first few words, the audience would join in. And he was right.
As I stood nervously on a trestle table, convinced it was going to collapse beneath me, no sooner had I uttered the words ‘In the town where I was born . . .’ than the whole tent — filled with about 100 guests — was singing ‘We all live in a yellow submarine.’
A surreal moment and one of Ancelotti’s favourite songs, apparently.
Although after his appointment as Everton boss it will now surely be Love Me Blue!