Carlo Ancelotti may rue his decision to introduce James Rodriguez from the bench during Everton’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City after the Colombian’s ineffectual cameo performance.
The ex-Real Madrid maestro started the night among the Blues’ substitutes, with Gylfi Sigurdsson initially preferred in the central attacking midfield role, before being called upon to replace Tom Davies with 21 minutes still to play.
Pep Guardiola’s title-chasing Citizens had just moved back into the lead when Rodriguez was introduced, with Riyad Mahrez restoring the visitors’ one-goal advantage after Richarlison fortuitously pulled the Toffees level in the first half.
However, Rodriguez never looked likely to add either his sixth goal in English football or an eighth assist of the season in all competitions, having struggled to get on the ball in dangerous positions.
Ancelotti going aggressive with the introduction of the £90k-per-week star and Deadline Day addition Joshua King also ensured Everton lost the energy and drive in the engine room that Davies delivered, or the width that Alex Iwobi brought to the side.
The Italian tactician’s decision further forced on-the-night captain Sigurdsson to drop back into a deeper role beside Abdoulaye Doucoure, where the Iceland playmaker would fail to track Bernardo Silva quickly enough and gift the Portuguese gem the space to score City’s decisive third.
His brief lapse of attention helped ensure Sigurdsson was criticised by the Liverpool Echo for a poor performance, having also struggled to get on the ball and influence the game in the manner the 31-year-old would have hoped to.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez was awarded the same matching rating of five out of 10 by the Liverpool Echo, for the £31.5m-rated ace did not have the time on the ball to offer a creative touch on Wednesday night.
Yet during Rodriguez’s 21 minutes on the field, no Everton player saw more of the ball than the 29-year-old, who – along with centre-half Michael Keane – registered 20 touches, per WhoScored.
But with the ball, Rodriguez proved immensely wasteful with a sloppy 67% pass competition rate, having only found a Toffees teammate with eight of his 12 passes. He, like all Blues players, also failed to create a single key ball or take a shot as the Citizens stayed in control.
It was part of the reason why the Colombian delivered a hugely ineffective performance, but also due to Rodriguez only recording two touches in the final third of the pitch, one more than he recorded on the edge of Jordan Pickford’s goal.
Meanwhile, Sigurdsson completed 11 of 14 passes in the final 21 minutes despite seeing less of the ball (15 touches, one in the final third), and contributed defensively with an interception – only Keane and Lucas Digne also broke up City’s play before passes were completed.
Rodriguez also struggled in his battles against the rampant league leaders, winning just 33% of his duels, as per SofaScore.
Ancelotti may look back on his decision to introduce Rodriguez from the bench and realise that he could have benefitted more after going behind by keeping Davies and his energy on the pitch.
With Rodriguez unable to help Everton gain ground in a game they were second best throughout.
AND in other news, Carlo Ancelotti is willing Everton to pay £26.5m for a £176k-p/w gem…