James Rodriguez says the faith placed in him by Carlo Ancelotti and Everton as a whole was a key reason why he chose to join the club from Real Madrid last summer.
In what was a rare long, sit-down interview since signing for the Toffees, the Colombian spoke of his eagerness for success and a return to playing Champions League football and why he thinks the ingredients are there at his new club to achieve it.
James made his first appearance in seven matches when he came on as a second-half substitute against West Ham on New Year's Day and while he couldn't prevent the Blues from going down to a bitterly disappointing 1-0 defeat, Everton sit just four points off the top of the table having played 16 matches.
Speaking in his native Spanish, Rodriguez spoke of his impressions of the Premier League where “players are stronger, they play more physically” than in other leagues in which he has played but he is encouraged by the hunger to progress that he has seen at Everton.
“[European qualification] is exactly what I want,” he explained. “This year I'm watching the Champions League from home, and that's something that I don't especially like doing!
"Yeah, it's hard but I think we've got what it takes to be there next year. For qualifying, we need willingness to play, we have to be hungry to succeed in every game.
"I believe all players need to have that same feeling. We need to follow the same path. Serious people are collaborating in this project, people who want to win.
"The people in this club are sure about what they want. We have talented, top level players. I believe if we work together as a team, if we all follow the same path, I'm sure we will be able to achieve awesome things.
"This is a very humble club, they are eager to achieve success, and it has very kind people. When a club is eager to achieve success, that's a very positive thing. It's not only about players, but also about the people linked to the club, working every day for it.”
Everton is the third club at which James has played under Ancelotti, having been signed by the Italian for Real Madrid in 2014 and then moving to Bayern Munich on loan in 2016, although in both spells their association was cut short by the manager being sacked.
Nevertheless, the best club football the South American star has played in Europe has come with Ancelotti and he says that the highly-decorated coach was a huge draw for him when it came to deciding his future once it was clear he wasn't going to get game time under Zinedine Zidane at Real.
"I spent a season without playing much,” James said, “so I had to go to a team where I could be trusted. I needed to play under a coach who knows me, how I behave on and off the pitch.
"Carlo was exactly what I needed for coming to this club. That was really important in my decision to be part of the team. It was because of both reasons. Both [he and the club] trusted me when nobody did. I'll be forever grateful to the club and to Carlo.
"That's why I try to show my best in every game, that's why I try to play at my highest level. This is what I want to do for the club.
"[Ancelotti's] a very easy-going person, knows how to treat players and how to get the most out of us. That's why he worked along with all those great clubs and now, with this new project, we expect him to do his best to achieve extraordinary things.
"All the players who have worked with Carlo have spoken highly of him. That means he does a great job in all senses. This is why he has achieved so many things.
"He's given many things to different clubs, and we hope to achieve the same in this new project. This is a club which has hunger to accomplish big things.
"We'll hopefully achieve something great within months or years."
Reader Comments (48)
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1 Posted 05/01/2021 at 17:37:34
Now it now looks like we are a different type of team. Gritty. Static. We are getting results but we certainly aren't as fluid. Have we (and James) lost some belief in the fluid style of three months ago? Have we simply been sussed out by the opposition? Or are we about to push on again with greater fluidity as the season progresses with James at the heart of everything we do?
I can't wait to see! COYB
2 Posted 05/01/2021 at 17:49:12
We beat West Brom, Brighton & Palace. The only decent team we beat was Spurs. We look much more likely to stay in touch with the European places with performances like the Leicester and Chelsea games.
Ancelotti needs to find a way of combining the two styles at the right times. Rodriguez needs to show his desire to help out defensively too.
3 Posted 05/01/2021 at 17:52:15
We'd be much more balanced and effective if we had right-sided version of Richarlison in the team and whether that means James plays centrally or not, we'll see.
4 Posted 05/01/2021 at 17:53:13
5 Posted 05/01/2021 at 17:56:35
6 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:03:36
7 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:12:03
8 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:24:44
I've plateaued in my Spanish attempts and wondered if he was up for doing something productive.
9 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:30:05
10 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:46:32
For me, his best position would be as a central attacking midfielder, enabling any gaps to be countered by other runners in the team.
If he's fit for Wolves, I hope he's at least in the squad, as Wolves on their day can turn any one over. That's a 6-pointer in my book, and we have to then start winning consistently at home, and to break the jinx at our old ground next month.
11 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:47:32
Who was the boxer who said it's hard getting up for training at 5am when you're wearing silk pyjamas? Has he got the heart and desire to go the extra mile for us? I hope so but I'm not 100% sure?!
Play him (at No 10) and Richarlison as a No 9 vs Rotherham to see how they can combine and hope it all goes to plan!!
He really could be a legend here if he puts in the required effort and can stay injury free!!! Fingers crossed!!
12 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:06:29
The issue is that, if he's not 100% fit and has niggling injuries, the balance between creative genius and defensive liability starts to hover on the wrong side of equilibrium.
13 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:16:13
Let's hope Carlo doesn't get a hattrick – bit of a Jonah this boy by the sound of it!
[Only joking, by the way...]
14 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:24:44
You could draw a 10-metre circle outside the penalty area and say don't move out of this for the half. Get the ball to him, and he'll do more damage than most Number 10s in the Premier League – even in this restricted space with his distribution of the ball.
Next summer, with even better players bombing forward left and right of him, it's going to be the best thrilling football in the land.
15 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:26:50
I particularly enjoyed his thoughts on the Premier League being more physical and faster. But then the conversation being taken into how he plays the game in slow motion.
It wasn't me, but someone else much more educated on here than I; probably Tony or Dave Abrahams if I recall. Players of this type have the ability to play in slow motion and see things that us mortals don't. They don't need to necessarily run fast to play the game quickly. It's in the brain and the decision making.
16 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:31:45
17 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:44:10
All games in this league are difficult. Liverpool have recently drawn with Fulham, Newcastle, West Brom & lost to Southampton. Look at Chelsea. Look at the table. It's not been as tight for many a year.
To say we were only playing lesser teams is to miss the point, which was about the movement and fluidity in our play. When we have our strongest lineup totally fit and rearing to go, with both full-backs high up the pitch, I hope that fluidity returns, and with it, I feel we can put most teams to the sword.
I believe in the potential of this team and in James at the heart of it.
18 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:51:33
In fact I'd have him, Richarlison and a new player as a marauding 3; no fixed positions, just a roaming 3 in front of Allan and Doucouré, supporting Calvert-Lewin.
19 Posted 05/01/2021 at 20:04:47
“We need to follow the same path,” which sometimes feels impossible for some unknown reason with Evertonians.
20 Posted 05/01/2021 at 20:08:41
21 Posted 05/01/2021 at 20:21:38
I wish the lad well and hope he can string to together a good run.
22 Posted 05/01/2021 at 21:36:23
Let's see who starts vs Rotherham, and who is rested for Wolves.
23 Posted 05/01/2021 at 21:41:58
24 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:08:25
25 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:21:04
Should put to rest any concerns about his desire and commitment.
Can't wait for him to get up to speed again -- love watching him play, love what he gives us. And unlike some here, I couldn't care less what he gives us defensively.
Jason #14, great comment but that circle would actually be off one corner of the penalty area, rather than in the middle. James' best passes are his far post chips and lobs, so he naturally gravitates to one flank or the other to get those angles. Playing the #10 role for sure, just not in the middle of the pitch.
26 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:27:43
Any thought that we should "cash in" is pure Looney Tunes in my opinion.
27 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:33:21
28 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:42:52
29 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:53:46
Naturally we want to see more goals from the midfielders but if they can start making more opportunities for DCL and Richie then I will be happy.
30 Posted 05/01/2021 at 23:08:26
31 Posted 05/01/2021 at 23:35:39
Players with a bit of pace, willing to break quickly and offer a clear outlet for player's to find them with a 30-, 40-, 50-yard pass into space.
We're probably one of the few Premier League teams who prefer a high air ball to Calvert-Lewin rather than a direct ball to an on-rushing forward.
Pirlo, Fernandes, Scholes would be crucified for giving the ball away with poor passing and vision playing for us.
We have missed a Kanchelskis type player for far too long. Don't mention far-post crosses, I don't think it's allowed at Everton.
Every game, every attacking corner or free-kick, I'm waiting and shouting for our players to spread out and someone to get out past the back post ready to attack the space. I do the opposite every time we defend a set-piece.
We just don't do back-post crosses or seem to know where the space is.
32 Posted 05/01/2021 at 23:40:10
I would have prefered more information on his injury and fitness. After the initial good start, once James was targeted, Everton were less effective and James was found wanting in his offensive duties.
Increasingly, I think that Everton's tactics and formations will have to be varied and selection rotational, since opposition teams are very adaptive of developing tactics to counter teams on good runs, who don't.
James will be a bit-part player in this, not playing a full 90 minutes, and more likely as an impact sub, and more effective as a result. He needs to keep himself fit to play though.
The days of one saviour player are gone in the Premier League.
Like Brian #5, I have concerns regarding Richarlison.
33 Posted 05/01/2021 at 23:58:16
34 Posted 05/01/2021 at 00:03:00
Yeah I agree, based on facts so far this season, definitely seen James doing some really good things when aligned around the right corner of the penalty box, more than centrally so far.
I was picturing, after seeing the amazing Siggy nutmeg through ball, his goal into the far right corner from 20 yards, and the pre-assist balls James makes as a connector from right to the left; all from the centre on occassion; James can do more damage when central if he was there more often when the right team is around him.
I think having that new bombing right-back who is just like Digne so crosses come in from both sides, plus Richie or Iwobi breaking into the box to make a diagonal pass would in the future be well orchestrated by James in this area. Would be near impossible for the opposition to stop him, left right or centre.
Putting football aside, what a great ambassador to have in James represent Everton. After watching the interview, makes you feel a little pride in that he's 100% a committed blue!
35 Posted 05/01/2021 at 00:15:46
Surely no-one on this thread sees James as a saviour. Can't we just see him as a very important focal point in our armoury, based on the simple fact that he is supremely talented?
Alongside Digne, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and perhaps a new face, he is central to the way we build up our attacking play. Unique, special, pivotal? yes! Saviour? In footballing terms I don't know what that means.
I certainly agree with you on tactical flexibility. That's very much part of Ancelotti's modus operandi and we will see more of it. For me though, all the best (successful) teams have a clear attack-minded identity and it'll be interesting to witness the forging of this identity over the next year or so.
36 Posted 06/01/2021 at 08:20:23
I suspect there will be an all-out effort from Rotherham to register a giant-killing, and tackles could be flying in if there is a chance of grabbing a goal should it be a low scoring game. No point in risking another injury to James, when he has just come back, no keep him for the more high profile opposition where I think he will be more effective.
Glad we have him in our ranks, plus we have inherited millions of Colombian Evertonians with his signing, alongside Yerry Mina, which must be good commercially off the field too. Imagine if we had Alfredo Morelos as well!
37 Posted 06/01/2021 at 09:05:13
At Everton, going right back to the Moyes era, we've always had this annoying trait of playing square pegs in round holes.
A good example, Dinyar Bilyaletdinov. For me this guy was never in a million years a wide midfielder, technically he was extremely blessed with that left foot and he would have prospered at number ten.
James Rodriguez, a player not cut out for tracking back defensively, he leaves us light and exposed down the flank and he will become a liability out there if we don't spot this. We are a team crying out for a creative central midfielder but we have one already in him.
When we brought James here, I thought he would be like our modern-day Dennis Bergkamp. Maybe he won't be quite as productive as the Arsenal great and, although I still think along those lines, I doubt we will truly see the best of James until he's moved central.
38 Posted 06/01/2021 at 10:09:12
Whilst James is good in his own right, though offensively there are questions, no matter how good he is, he is only as good as those around him, and what he can add to their play. Everton can be tactically outmanoeuvred and resort back to the Everton of old that we know so well. When Ancelotti's tactics are slightly off, this can arise relatively quickly. This seems to be a collective malaise that affects most of the players.
Michael Ball, a former Evertonian, who was a pundit at the West Ham match, commented on the lack of Everton's leadership on the field. With no crowd, players' communication was easily heard. Whilst West Ham players were vocal, communicating to one another with urgency, Everton were like on the training ground, not playing in a game challenging at the top of the Premier League.
West Ham seemed to have that extra yard and, if a player didn't, his teammates let him know in no uncertain terms. Everton still don't have that type of player and James isn't that type of player. Ronaldo says that he often has to play through the pain barrier; James won't. Ronaldo never gave an interview like that in his life.
39 Posted 06/01/2021 at 12:51:12
As for his best position? I have been of the view since he arrived that he should be played as a No 10, and many posters here are saying the same. It will be interesting if Carlo sees it this way? I live in hope.
40 Posted 06/01/2021 at 15:09:39
41 Posted 06/01/2021 at 16:11:48
The pressing challenge for James and the team as a whole is how to rapidly regain a solid defensive shape when possession is lost high up. The general solution to this conundrum is not to have two separate lineups to account for different opponents, but to better coordinate in-game transitions. This is what Ancellotti points to when he blames most of our defensive lapses on poor attitude, intent and concentration.
Dont you just love this game!
42 Posted 06/01/2021 at 16:15:20
43 Posted 06/01/2021 at 16:15:20
44 Posted 06/01/2021 at 16:45:40
I'd almost be tempted to save him for the lesser teams. Play different styles.
Against the top 6 teams or so who would expect to have more of the ball than us play:
Holgate Mina Keane Godfrey
Iwobi Sigurdsson Richarlison
With the aim of working hard, being tight and nicking a goal or two through counter attacks or set pieces.
Then against teams where we should have more of the ball play:
Coleman (or upgrade) Godfrey Keane Digne
Iwobi Rodriguez Richarlison
The obvious issue is the need to have better substitutes/alternatives for the front 3. Bernard, Tosun and Gordon have not made much impact this season, certainly from the bench.
45 Posted 06/01/2021 at 19:05:32
Looks like he's putting in the work.
46 Posted 06/01/2021 at 23:06:17
That's it. The different formations have worked as you say, for the reasons you give.
You are right about our impact subs, though Bernard of late has been better. Gordon may become better, but it's a big ask, even though many on here expect the impossible from him.
Tosun needs really good final-third play to be effective. The players around him are not good enough for that and he has only played with James once. On as a straight sub for Calvert-Lewin with Everton deep in the final 10 minutes will never work.
I am concerned by Richarlison's performance since his return from suspension. You are definitely on the right wavelength in your post.
47 Posted 06/01/2021 at 01:31:41
I guess the player movement/interchange with James is key going forward. Allowing him more space and time to get the ball and create. Doucouré is that player but currently he's been too busy to plug holes in defence. And top priority is to get a Digne (right-footed version) at right-back.
48 Posted 08/01/2021 at 02:55:29
While I am on here from sunny Adelaide, I wish all ToffeeWebbers a great 2021 with a special wish to all of you in UK and in high tier lockdowns at present. Keep up your spirit and keep on keeping on. Stay safe and be well!!
Also, to those in USA, may the dust settle quickly on the current divisiveness in your country. My daughter lives currently in Portland, Oregon, and we chat regularly on-line. It is at times like this that the people of a country can decide to come together rather than carry on in the same old, same old way. I hope that time will bring a better unity to the people of the great USA.
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