Allan has just taught James Rodriguez a lesson with Everton response
The first two signings of Carlo Ancelotti’s first – and only – summer transfer window as Everton manager were both players he’d worked with before but while James Rodriguez’s days appeared numbered from the moment the Italian quit, Allan has continued to go from strength to strength.
After several months of speculation, when he did finally sign on September 5 last year, he name-checked his former Napoli boss as “The Professor” as one of the major contributory factors to him joining.
But while the now Real Madrid coach was undoubtedly the driving force in bringing Allan to Everton, the manager's sudden and premature exit, confirmed on June 1, has not hampered his Blues career.
In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.
Contrast this to the circus that surrounded James after Ancelotti’s defection.
The playmaker’s commitment to the club was already being questioned at the back end of last season when his manager allowed him to fly to Colombia – social media photographs of him reclining on a luxury jet hardly helped – at a time when Everton were still fighting what proved to be a losing battle to secure a place in Europe.
The fact that the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner wasn’t even picked for his country’s Copa America squad due to concerns over his fitness made matters worse and he’d never pull on the royal blue jersey in a competitive fixture again.
James would go through the motions in pre-season, reporting back to Finch Farm on the first day and posing for a photograph with a young fan at the gate.
He’d turn out in domestic friendlies against Accrington Stanley, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United and participate in the club’s Florida Cup trip where he faced compatriots Millionarios and Mexicans UNAM Pumas but when it came to the real stuff, he was never picked.
At the time, with the 30-year-old offering regular musings on his uncertain future on his Twitch channel, some fans wondered whether he was being deliberately snubbed by new manager Rafa Benitez.
The fact that James never did play in front of fans at Goodison Park and still hasn’t made his debut for his new club Al Rayyan – with coach Laurent Blanc confirming he was being kept out through injury – tells a different story though.
When James arrived in the Premier League last year, Bogota-based British football journalist Carl Worswick told the ECHO that a Colombian colleague had said to him: "If he doesn’t make it at Everton, let’s turn the lights off and go home."
In footballing terms, having failed to secure a move to another European club before the window closed and now choosing to pick up easy money in what still is a lesser location to play the sport despite its controversial choice as host for next year’s World Cup, he’s certainly applied the dimmer switch to his career at the top.
But why this digression on James?
While a global superstar of his status might be an extreme example, in terms of age and background to Allan there are distinct similarities so Ancelotti’s exit might have proven an all-too-convenient excuse for him to down tools.
Instead, his response should be applauded though.
Rather than sulk and feel sorry for himself than the man instrumental to bringing him to Everton had gone, Allan just did what seems to come natural to him and got on with his job effectively with the minimum of fuss.
A cosmopolitan Premier League that attracts great talents from all corners of the globe there days demands a heightened sense of cultural sensitivity and that’s something that the Blues were well aware of with their delicate handling of Allan’s precocious compatriot Richarlison and fulfilling his Olympic dream – a gamble that paid off for the player at least thanks to his Gold Medal success in Tokyo.
But Allan, a devoted family man who let his son - who suffers from alopecia - to shave his dad's hair off last season in an act of solidarity, thankfully appears to be distinctly low maintenance but high performance.
Given the penchant for flair players in his homeland, Allan’s attributes haven’t always been fully appreciated back in Brazil – he wasn’t capped until a couple of months before his 28 th birthday – but as football journalist Rodrigo Calvozzo, a fellow Carioca (someone from Rio de Janeiro) told the ECHO after he signed: “Allan, like Fernandinho, acts in a way that does not stand out in terms of creating the kind of beautiful play which enchants fans.
“On the other hand, he is a player of great physical vigour, which is valued as being very important for any coach.”
It is a trait admired by Evertonians though, who despite their veneration of the ‘School of Science’ approach, also admire graft as well as craft.
Defensive-minded midfielders are often overlooked when it comes to dishing out the praise – Eric Cantona infamously labelled Didier Deschamps as “the water carrier” but that doesn’t do justice to their crucial role at all.
Howard Kendall – quite the midfielder himself in his day having been one third of the fabled ‘Holy Trinity’ – reckoned Peter Reid, who he snapped up for a bargain £60,000 from Bolton Wanderers – was Everton’s most important signing since the Second World War.
Joe Royle’s “Dogs of War” Barry Horne and Joe Parkinson were the driving force behind the Blues last trophy in 1995; Lee Carsley quipped the club had to smash their transfer record to replace him when they splashed out £15million on Marouane Fellaini in 2008 and more recently, Everton old boy Idrissa Gueye has been providing the steel to supplement the silk of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi at petrodollar-fuelled Paris Saint-Germain.
His partner in the engine room, Abdoulaye Doucoure, has been grabbing more of the headlines so far this term through his more tangible output in the final third of two goals and four assists in the Premier League, but the willingness of Allan – still yet to score in 33 matches in English football – to complete many of the more unheralded tasks on the pitch is not going unnoticed.
The message from the new boss has been straightforward but effective.
As Allan himself said back in August: “For those of us in midfield, he always asks for us to keep it as simple as possible, two touches of the ball, always look to play forward.”