Monday, October 18, 2021

Every word Brendan Rodgers said on Soumare, Daka, Perez, and substitutions in 2-2 draw v Napoli

Brendan Rodgers was delighted with Boubakary Soumare’s performance in his first start for Leicester City in the 2-2 draw with Napoli.

The French midfielder was included in the 11 for the first time since his £17m move from Lille to City over the summer and impressed Rodgers with his composure and physicality.

But he could only last 70 minutes, with Rodgers saying he started to tire.

You can read all of Rodgers’ post-match thoughts on Napoli here, including his verdict on the displays of Patson Daka, Ayoze Perez, and referee Tiago Martins, as well as his explanations for his substitutions.

Q: There was lots to be pleased with tonight but you came up against a quality side with a lot of European nous. Is that how you’d sum it up?

BR: “Yeah, it was a really exciting game for the neutral. I was really pleased with the team in terms of the mentality and the goals we scored, and the resilience we showed for a lot of the game.

“But you see the youthfulness of the team at this level against a really top-class side. That was a really good measure for us. People were talking before the game about Napoli arguably being favourites for the competition with all the experience and quality they have, but we were very competitive tonight.

“We were disappointed to lose the goals but there was still lots for us to be happy about and lots for us to go away and analyse where we can be better.”

Q: Boubakary Soumare and Patson Daka made their first starts for the club. How did you feel they got on?

BR: “Bouba, I was delighted with. I thought he had a really good 70 minutes. He tired towards the end, which was why we took him off. It’s understandable because it was his first start in a really high-level game. I was delighted with him, I thought he showed great composure and good physicality in the game, so he was excellent.

“Patson, I was disappointed for him because of the goal and the great celebration with the crowd, and then for it to be disallowed. You see what he gives, he gives everything, he works so hard, he’s always a threat and looking to get in the box. I was really pleased with those two.”

Q: What was your thinking behind the attacking substitutions?

BR: “The game in the first half, with our system, we were down a man in midfield as we were playing with two strikers. Even though we got the goal, I didn’t think it allowed us to keep the ball like you’d need to at this level of the game. By bringing on the third midfield player, that allowed us to have better control in the game.

“Then Patson could play just to the side but still get in the box and be effective as a striker. That was the reasoning behind that.

“Bouba was playing his first minutes of the season, so he was starting to tire 10 minutes before we took him off, but we let him push on.

“We put James Maddison into the game because we were spending more periods without the ball, and that was inviting pressure, so the idea was to bring him, he’s a technical player. It’s an area of the team we need to be better at this level. Us giving the ball away as often as we did at times means you’re chasing the ball, and you start to tire.

“Vards, we were trying to get something, so we had a striker who could run quickly and score goals, and felt that he could give us something.

“Jonny came off with an injury, so we had to play Cags.”

Q: Evans’ injury, is that going to affect him ahead of the game against Brighton on Sunday?

BR: “It probably will do. It’s his foot again. He was struggling to push off so we’ll have to see how that looks over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Q: What did you make of Ayoze Perez’s performance?

BR: “He made a difficult start in the game, giving the ball away two or three times. Then he played himself into the game really well, and he scored a fantastic goal. His will to get into the box and get on the end of the cross, and I thought he finished it really well, keeping it low. I was delighted for him.

“That gave him confidence in the game. I thought he worked ever so hard in the game. I wanted to make the change at half-time to bring a pure midfielder on. They had three really good midfield players in there versus our two, and bringing Youri in allowed us to gain a better feel for the game.

“It was his first start since the sending off. He’s given us 45 minutes and got game-time into his legs, and he will be better for that.”

Q: What did you make of Ndidi’s sending off?

BR: “I didn’t think the referee was very good all night to be honest. I thought he was unfortunate. He’s picked up the booking early on and done really well to get through to that point in the game. He’s obviously fighting to try to get across to stop the attacker getting away. It was a little bit harsh, I thought the first one was a bit harsh. But I didn’t think the referee was great.”
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