James Rodriguez’s unwillingness to track back could be exploited by Everton’s future opponents, former Liverpool defender Danny Murphy believes. The Colombia international was guilty of not putting in the extra yards in Everton’s 2-2 draw with the bitter rivals on Saturday.
Reds defender Andy Robertson had a field day on Liverpool’s left wing, bombing forward at will and putting additional pressure on Toffees’ right-back Seamus Coleman.
And should Rodriguez not start putting in the extra work, Murphy believes Everton’s defence could end up being badly exposed by the Premier League’s big boys.
“Everton can be proud of the way they fought back twice,” Murphy said of Carlo Ancelotti’s side in his Mail on Sunday column.
“They look better than they’ve done for years and, in James Rodriguez, have a player with real star quality.
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The better teams will have seen how you can exploit the Colombian’s lack of willingness to track back when the opposition left-back is bombing forward
Danny Murphy on James Rodriguez
“But the better teams will have seen how you can exploit the Colombian’s lack of willingness to track back when the opposition left-back is bombing forward.
“Andy Robertson capitalised. Liverpool were a real threat down that side and of course that’s how they took an early lead with the full-back crossing for Mane.
“Carlo Ancelotti is a clever manager. He will figure out a way to use the best of Rodriguez, which is a threat going forward, while hoping Everton are less vulnerable the other way.
“[Jurgen] Klopp will be worried if he is without Alisson and Van Dijk for long periods but Joel Matip returned and looked very good.”
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Rodriguez, 29, joined Everton in the summer from Spanish champions Real Madrid for a fee in the region of £20million.
The Colombian penned a two-year at Goodison Park, where he’ll pocket £77,000 a week.
Rodriguez has made an impressive start to life as a Toffee, scoring three goals and providing four assists in a mere six appearances this season.
Ancelotti, who managed Rodriguez during his time in charge of Real, recently sung the former Bayern Munich loanee’s praises, saying: “I think James Rodriguez is going to help the strikers because he is a fantastic assist man.
“The target for Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] is I hope he can reach 20 goals because he has the quality and ability, like Richarlison. With James at the time in Madrid, Ronaldo scored 56 goals: I am not honestly going to ask Dominic to score 56 goals but he has to try to do his best.
“We have two fantastic strikers and behind them we have James and Sigurdsson. I think if they do not score at least 20 goals each they can have a problem with me.
“I said to them ‘You have to score at least 20 goals each’ and I hope Moise (Kean) also, he has the possibility. He has played two games and scored two goals.”
Rodriguez and his Everton team-mates will be back in action next Sunday, travelling to St Mary’s to take on Southampton.
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