There has been plenty of talk about the great relationship that Carlo Ancelotti and James Rodriguez share, but Everton are already reaping the benefits of that rapport early in the 2020/21 season.
The veteran Italian manager first signed James for Real Madrid when he broke into the limelight winning the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup, and then when he went to Bayern Munich he brought the player to Germany on loan. Even during his short stint at Napoli he attempted to sign James again, before completing the deal for the third time this summer at Everton.
James’ vision and left foot so far have done wonders for an otherwise anemic Toffees attack, driving play as he cuts in from the right wing and spraying the ball all over the park. The Colombian superstar marked his first appearance at Goodison Park yesterday with a key goal that put the Blues ahead 2-1.
Rodriguez laid on a sumptuous pass over the top of the defence too for Richarlison to run onto, with the Brazilian generously squaring the ball for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to bundle home for his second. The English striker’s hattrick goal was also James’ doing, with the 29-year-old sending over a corner for DCL to head home acrobatically.
After the game, Ancelotti gushed about James’ quality and performance.
“He makes football easy. He has started really well and I am happy with him. He still has a fantastic desire to play and loves to play with us.
“His goal was the key goal of the game. It was a fantastic goal and he made fantastic assists.
“He is comfortable with the team and his teammates. He is showing his qualities – the qualities I saw in Madrid and at Bayern Munich.
“The quality of James makes it easy for him to play [in any league]. His football is not is complicated. When he has space, he tries to use his quality on passes. When he has no space and he is under pressure he tries to play simple.
“This is what every player has to do. Use your quality when there is space. Play simple when there is no space.”
The warm hug they shared when James came off with the game won should tell you everything you need to know about the relationship the two have.
| This pair, though.— Everton (@Everton) September 19, 2020
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After the game Calvert-Lewin revealed that Ancelotti has been drilling the striker in training on his finishing, which has often been wayward in the past. With four goals already in just two games, he looks to be on pace to outstrip the 15 goals he scored last season, and Ancelotti sees even bigger things for the 23-year-old.
“He is still young but has developed really well. The combination up front was good and they had support from James who is doing really well in this period.
“I had a fantastic striker in Inzaghi, who scored 300 goals and 210 with one touch.
“A striker has to be focused in the box and I think Calvert-Lewin understands really well because in the box he has speed, he jumps really high, he has power.
“Where he has improved more is there, in the box.”
As we observed earlier this week, adding the trio of James, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan is a real opportunity for Calvert-Lewin to kick on and establish himself as a top-class striker in the Premier League, no matter how ugly his goals or where they come from. He’s off to a good start this season, for sure.