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‘Future Ballon D’Or winner’ drags Everton to his level

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More a motivational technique than a a genuine belief that Richarlison is a Ballon D’Or contender perhaps, but Carlo Ancelotti has managed enough of them to instill genuine belief in Everton’s most important player.

It was a brilliant performance from the attacking players in general at Craven Cottage on Sunday, but the Brazilian again showed in the 3-2 win over Fulham why his absence has consistently been so costly.

Everton lost all three games Richarlison missed through his recent suspension and they haven’t won any of the eight he’s not played since his arrival in 2018.

He was by no means the standout player for Everton.

But Richarlison – whose role in the victory will be a mere footnote in most reports – set the tone (very) early and dragged Everton quickly up to a level they’ve been nowhere near in his absence.

He drove past two Fulham defenders to set up Calvert-Lewin after 40 seconds but it was the defensive work from the front that made the real difference in those early moments: pressuring defenders into mistakes they duly made, making tackles; generally being a nuisance.

When he’s not playing that forward-thinking defence starts and ends with Calvert-Lewin, particularly with James Rodriguez plodding about, waiting for the ball to be won back.
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