James set for the season's final challenge

Sunday, 28 March, 2021 38comments  |  Jump to last

James Rodriguez has been speaking about the run-in to the season and providing more of his on-field genius in the push to finish the Premier League campaign in a European qualifying place.

The Colombian star has been using his hiatus over the last month and a break from international action prompted by the CONMEBOL federation's decision to postpone the current round of World Cup qualifiers on the grounds of the COVID-19 crisis in significant parts of South America to work on getting as fit as he can for Everton's run-in to mid-May.

After successive league defeats to Chelsea and Burnley, the Toffees have fallen out of the top six but have a game in hand on the teams above them and they will know that in such an unpredictable season, opportunity will continue to knock over the final quarter of the season.

James was signed by Carlo Ancelotti with the aim of qualifying for Europe in mind and while doubts were expressed in the wider football world that the duo would be able to see that vision through, the former Real Madrid and Bayern Madrid forward believes that the club is big enough to eventually mix it up in the Champions League with his old team.

Asked by evertontv if Everton can reach the levels regularly achieved by clubs like Real and Bayern, James was definitive.

“Yes, why not?” he said. “Firstly… we need to be fighting it out around the top of the league. The past two games haven't been as good as we would have liked but that's the Premier League.

“Every game is like a final… a battle, but that's what we're here for and you have to make sure you're in good shape and strong mentally and prepared for everything, as it's going to be tough."

Rodriguez's biggest challenge in his first season in England is the one everyone expected it would be — staying fit. The 29-year-old's injury problems in recent years were one impediment to being able to consistently perform in Spain and Germany and the recurrent calf problem that has dogged him in recent months also wrecked his 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia.

Together with Carlo Ancelotti and the club's medical staff, the decision was taken to withhold him from action since the Merseyside derby to allow him to build up his fitness to something approaching 100%, a level he hasn't been close to in his time with the Toffees so far.

When he has played, he has often been gloriously effective, even if sometimes those stellar contributions have been limited to a couple of key moments per game. In that respect, James is happy enough with his form but clearly wants to offer more over the remainder of the campaign.

Everton have 10 games between now and the conclusion of the 2020-21 season and how they do will determine whether or not they qualify for Europe.

“I'm reasonably happy with how I am playing,” he continued. “I think there's more to come and I can hit some better form, but when I've performed well, it's had a positive effect on the team.

“And that's what I want: for the team to play good football and perform at a high standard.

“It's been very easy to settle. I've come to a good club, a club that wants to achieve big things. I'm with a manager who knows exactly what I'm like. He knows how to relate to his players and staff.

“I get on fantastically well with him, just like a father and son. So, everything was very easy and straightforward.

“The football is a lot more physical [than other leagues. There's a lot of contact and you see fouls all the time but these are all new experiences and I'm happy to be adding this one to my list.”


Reader Comments (38)

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Dave Williams
1 Posted 28/03/2021 at 10:31:15
Watch the interview he does with Mina covering questions from the fans- James comes over as surprisingly outgoing to me and Yerry is always great value!
Colin Glassar
2 Posted 28/03/2021 at 10:41:20
James will be key if we are to have a good end to the season. We’ve missed his creativity.
Paul Birmingham
3 Posted 28/03/2021 at 10:54:53
Let’s hope James can help Everton, push for a European place, his vision and creativity on the park is a big miss to the team.
Derek Knox
4 Posted 28/03/2021 at 11:55:18
Well, you can't beat a story from the Horse's mouth, unless it's Mr Ed of course, of course, hopefully this dispels all the rumours about the sex change etc, he's hetero and sticking with it!

Although I was getting a bit concerned about why he seemed to be okay after a game, apart from getting the almost statutory knocks in the Premiership, which he alluded to, then disappearing for a few games, especially when he was much needed. Never thinking along the lines of Gender re-assignment/realignment, honest, more that he had a serious injury they were keeping under wraps, and possibly injecting him before games. Gladly that has not been the case. Be great to see him doing what he does best in the run-in!

Eddie Dunn
5 Posted 28/03/2021 at 12:12:07
Talk is cheap..let's see James stay fit for a run of games and use those skills for the benefit of us all.
Tony Everan
6 Posted 28/03/2021 at 12:34:56
One of he biggest talents in football when he’s fully fit. When fully fit he is without doubt one of the most gifted players to pull on the Everton shirt and a joy to watch. Everton would be serious top four contenders if he had remained fully fit. Our push to ensconce ourselves within the top six will be massively boosted if James can remain fully fit for the last 10 games.

It’s sad he picks up so many injuries and also that I am not too confident he will even play in all the remaining games. Since his dramatic impact at the start of the season he has been targeted more and taken out. I am not sure he has the body to endure this every week in the Premier League and may elect to move on to somewhere more suitable.

Colin Glassar
7 Posted 28/03/2021 at 12:47:19
What are you on about, Derek?
Allen Rodgers
8 Posted 28/03/2021 at 12:50:17
In my opinion, James has never been the same since Saint Virgil clattered him in the opening minutes of the first derby - and got away with it. Robertson tried to do the same in the second derby.
Ray Roche
9 Posted 28/03/2021 at 12:52:13
Colin, a rumour, no doubt emanating from the feverish mind of an RS, claimed that James was “finally “ coming out and was undergoing transgender realignment. Of course, some people picked it up and ran with it, much to the amusement of anyone with more than one brain cell. There were also doctored photos. you couldn’t make it up.
Steve Brown
10 Posted 28/03/2021 at 12:59:04
Ray @ 9, I think they are getting confused with Firmino.
Derek Knox
11 Posted 28/03/2021 at 12:59:10
Great to see you back Ray :-)
Colin Glassar
12 Posted 28/03/2021 at 13:05:29
Wow Ray, that’s low even for them. Ask Shannon!
Ray Roche
13 Posted 28/03/2021 at 13:20:00
No Steve, I’ve seen the photoshopped evidence of James. Better looking than anything I saw in the Grafton 🤣

Thanks Del👏

Mike Gaynes
14 Posted 28/03/2021 at 16:17:48
DK and Ray, I see I can count on the two of you to cover the news that is available nowhere else. Maybe this accounts for the reason I get so "excited" when I see James on the ball. Thanks for my first laugh of the day.

Allen #8, what Virgil did to James definitely fit the description of an attempted gender realignment.

Tony #6, using the words "fully fit" four times in one paragraph... are you using subliminal suggestion there? Thanks for the second laugh of the day.

Dave #1, where can I find that video?

Joe McMahon
15 Posted 28/03/2021 at 16:20:13
He's that fragile, in the rough and tumble of the Premier League, I'd use him off the bench only. But of course I don't make such decisions. If he starts games he most probably won't feature in many due to calf strains etc.
Martin Berry
16 Posted 28/03/2021 at 16:48:16
I hope to see him return asap, and I also hope to see him playing in the No 10 role, that is his best position.
Dave Williams
17 Posted 28/03/2021 at 17:23:55
Hi Mike- it’s on the official website. One of those q and a sessions where the fans put questions to them. Done with subtitles but shows them to be great pals and whilst I knew Mina to be one of those “ you really know when he’s in the room” characters, James shows he has a really fun personality too- surprised me anyway!
Ray Roche
18 Posted 28/03/2021 at 17:36:59
Mike, just to be clear here, and it’s difficult to fully appreciate the Grafton if you never went there on Grab A Granny night, ET could sit at the bar and largely go unnoticed. Transgender, in this context, and I am aware that ‘transgender’ is probably the wrong term, would require the willing participation of a Moose, purely so that any plastic surgeon would have a benchmark to increase the femininity of the subject.
Tony Everan
19 Posted 28/03/2021 at 18:05:03
Hello Mike,

It's a lament and frustration over James's fitness. It must be hard for him to take and also Ancelotti must spend every night praying for him to get fit. It's frustrating for us fans too as he is the main player whose class can outwit and out-manoeuvre many organised teams by his speed of thought and sometimes just with a single beautiful pass.

Ultimately, I think, with a player of that calibre in the side, it makes other players believe. But, as I may have already mentioned, he has to be.

Mike Gaynes
20 Posted 28/03/2021 at 18:55:23
Tony #19, yep, I knew that! You weren't exactly subtle, mate.

Ray #18, I can't wait to meet you for an ale at the Grafton the next time I come over.

Dave #17, thanks, it's great.

Stephen Vincent
21 Posted 28/03/2021 at 22:59:02
Mike, regrettably the Grafton closed its doors quite a few years ago now.

Thursday nights were pretty much the scariest thing you could do back in the day. On a par with an away game at Leeds.

Rob Halligan
22 Posted 28/03/2021 at 23:03:42
Derek #4. Glad to see you've finally come out!
Rob Halligan
23 Posted 28/03/2021 at 23:05:04
And posted that ridiculous rumour about James!! 😁😁
Tony Everan
24 Posted 28/03/2021 at 23:17:17
Stephen, My brother went to an away match there in the eighties and was on a double-decker bus full to the brim with tanked-up Leeds supporters. He said the bus stopped in traffic near the ground and, rather than wait, the Leeds fans opened the rear emergency fire exit on the top deck. They all bailed out, jumped down and went on their merry way.

My memory of the Grafton is very hazy. Not just because of the 30-odd years that have passed but because of the decrepit state I was in when me and the gang of reprobates I was with landed there.

Despite the fading memories, I can remember being invited back by a young lady to her residence with the comforting reassurance that the father of her kids was in jail, so there was nothing to worry about. To this day, I am glad I politely declined.

Rob Halligan
25 Posted 28/03/2021 at 23:24:00
Now now Tony, you'll be giving Mike Gaynes the wrong impression of what the wonderful Grafton used to be like!!
Stephen Vincent
26 Posted 28/03/2021 at 23:32:02
Tony, I was at a Leeds game at Elland Road in the 70s when we lost 5-2.

After the game, my mate and I got separated from the main travelling support and found ourselves on waste ground on the wrong side of the stadium. We were soon surrounded by a few dozen Leeds fans, "Where are you from?" asked one... "Ee, from 'Alifax," replied my friend in his best Yorkshire accent. "Scousers!" shouted the Leeds fans.

Unfortunately, being trendy back then, I had platform shoes on, it was like running through mud – I still have the scar on my shoulder!!

In the Grafton, I once accidentally insulted a woman I was dancing with. I nursed a serious black eye for weeks.

Happy days!

Paul Birmingham
27 Posted 29/03/2021 at 00:40:58
The Grafton, it was The Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea..

Epic Days, and tales from those Days, and Everton.

I frequented in my prime, straight back from the heroics of an away game 🤪👍

Serious folk lore, made, in real time, meets, passes and misses, and the open goal.

Cest La Vie.

Like Goodison Park, those were the days, but more to be found at BMD.👍

The Old pubs down the dock road, could be resurrected..

“Whats Our Name?”

Mike Gaynes
28 Posted 29/03/2021 at 03:03:31
Darn. I missed out on the Grafton.

I wonder how it would have compared to the Krewe of Endymion parade at Mardi Gras. (Not that I have a clear memory of that particular night in my life, but the police report makes for interesting reading.)

Dave Williams
29 Posted 29/03/2021 at 10:13:59
Don't keep us dangling, Mike, what did you get up to?
Derek Knox
30 Posted 29/03/2021 at 11:15:42
Dave @ 29, Dangling? That was one of the charges on his arrest sheet! 😜
Alan J Thompson
31 Posted 29/03/2021 at 15:52:45
Ahhh, the Grafton Haze, Sunday night was nurses night.
Pat Kelly
32 Posted 29/03/2021 at 15:58:08
He still has a bit part to play as long as no one fouls him.
Derek Knox
33 Posted 29/03/2021 at 16:40:39
Pat K, what if they foul him just a bit? 😜
Mike Gaynes
34 Posted 29/03/2021 at 16:54:05
Dave #29, sorry, those records are sealed.

DK #30, believe me, nobody would have noticed.

Pat Kelly
35 Posted 29/03/2021 at 17:47:08
Derek, he'll take the ball and go home.
David Connor
36 Posted 29/03/2021 at 19:14:17
Great player on his day. But, even if he stays fit, which will be doubtful, he probably won't start every game. Let's face it, if he wasn't a crock, he wouldn't be at our club.

Top player but we are such an easy touch, whether it's signing unfit players or players that don’t seem to give a fuck. That needs to change.

Derek Knox
37 Posted 29/03/2021 at 20:36:35
Pat K, " Derek, he'll take the ball and go home. "

Well that's not cricket, is it old stocking? :-)

Sukhdev Sohal
38 Posted 29/03/2021 at 22:39:49
We need him to play every game if he can. He's a genuine world class player. The problem for us is he's out and Iwobi comes in.

Hopefully we can take Allan Saint-Maximin off a relegated Newcastle for peanuts and he will replace Iwobi because he can beat 4 or 5 men at once, something even Richarlison doesn't do (although he has other strengths obviously).

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