Every word Brendan Rodgers said on substitutions, Tielemans, Vardy and new signings after Man Utd beaten
Brendan Rodgers joked that he was thankful his substitutions were not booed during Leicester City’s 4-2 win over Manchester United.
Rodgers’ decision to replace Ademola Lookman with James Maddison was jeered loudly by the home crowd in City’s previous game at the King Power Stadium.
But in introducing Ayoze Perez and Patson Daka late on against United, City fans instead stood to applaud those making way, Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho.
And the substitutions paid off, with Perez and Daka both involved in the final three goals.
You can read every word Rodgers said after the game below, including his thoughts on Youri Tielemans’ performance, and whether he meant his goal, Jamie Vardy’s display and “sublime” finish, and how summer recruits Daka and Boubakary Soumare fared.
Q: Was that your best performance of the season?
BR: “That’s much more like what we’re used to seeing of the team, being really aggressive, an emotional game, pressing the opponent, being a really difficult team to play against,” he said.
“Once you can press and be that aggressive, that takes the tempo of your attacking game up, and with that we were excellent. We created opportunities, we scored four and could have had some more, and our concentration was at a high level.
“That was much more pleasing in terms of the performance level. In particular in the second half, I thought we were very good.”
Q: Where do you think the game was won and lost?
BR: “I thought we started well. Their central players weren’t pressing so we could be patient and work the ball through the pitch. We got into some really good areas. We were putting pressure on their back-line.
“Mason scores an unbelievable goal, it’s a great strike. We can be better in that, but you can’t take away from the quality of his strike.
“We then came back into the game and showed a great mentality. We came in at half-time in a good place.
“In the second half it was about reinforcing our aggression in the game because fundamentally that’s when we’re at our best, we’re an awkward team and a hard team to play against once we’re pressing well and being that aggressive.
“In particular in the second half I thought we were very good.”
Q: What did you make of Tielemans’ performance?
BR: “He’s an outstanding young player. He’s been away and played a couple of games over the international break, and then to come in and play with that poise and quality in the game…
“He’s scored one and he was unfortunate, De Gea makes a great save, tips it onto the post. Him and Bouba in there, along with James, they’re always ready to take the ball and that allows us to play through and build our game.
“Overall, he was outstanding.”
Q: How do you feel Maddison got on?
BR: “I thought he got on quite well. It was much more like him. He was pressing the game, working hard, and then he picked up some great little pockets of space.
“He was unlucky with a couple of through balls. Overall, he was much better, and he has been.
“Giving him that break from the team, he came into the Legia Warsaw game, and was good in that game, he was bright in the Palace game when he came on.
“He’s worked really well over this past couple of weeks. And now he’s setting a standard again of which he has a really high level. I thought he was more like himself.”
To BBC Radio Leicester:
Q: How did you rate Evans’ performance, and his importance to the team?
BR: “He’s a top player. Teams like ourselves need that level of authority in the game. When you have so many young players, having someone of that quality gives assurance on the field to all the others.
“You see Cags today, with Jonny around him organising the line, he’s outstanding. He’s a top-level player, I’ve always said that, and for a team like ourselves, he’s critical to the balance of the team. He was very important.
“And it was great to see James Maddison back in playing at a really good level. Him and Kel just tired a little towards the end, so we needed to make the changes, but thankfully we weren’t booed today!”
Q: What was the issue with Jonny?
BR: “It was just cramp. He’s not played for so long, and has been limited in his training. He had cramp in both legs, he stiffened up and couldn’t run.”
Q: Did Tielemans mean his goal?
BR: “I don’t really care! Throughout the season, he does come into that half-space, that’s what we encourage him to do. The ball comes back to him and he whips it in, like the goal he set up for Vards away at Brighton.
“It was slightly different, if you look, he’s had a look, and he’s shaped it more with narrow contact. Thankfully it went in. Whether he meant it or not, I don’t really care.”
Q: When you’re playing more aggressively, that helps Vardy, doesn’t it?
BR: “He was excellent. That’s what we were saying to the front two, that the start position on the press needed to be higher. It was a little bit passive in some of the games, but it needed to be right up there, forcing mistakes, and that’s where the first goal came from.
“When he’s like that, he’s a really tough opponent to play against.
“His goal was a great finish. It was also a great team goal in terms of the mentality. You concede at 2-1 up going into the last throes of the game, and it didn’t break our spirit, which was important. We go up the other end, Ayo does fantastic and Jamie’s technique and finish was sublime.
“Once we got to 3-2, you felt that energy again in the crowd and in the team, we kept pushing and maybe could have had a couple more. Thankfully Patson got his and the game’s over.”
Q: Long trip to Russia coming up now?
BR: “That’s what we’re paid for. We want to be playing European football, and that’s what it’s about: winning great games like today, recovering, and then getting your gameplan ready for Wednesday.”
To BBC Sport:
Q: Right from the start, did they do everything you talked about in the week?
BR: “We talked about it, we’re a high-pressing team, we’re an aggressive team. Sometimes tactically we have to adapt with a certain opponent, but in the main, that’s our blueprint, defending with a high line and pushing up the pitch. From that, then looking to exploit opponents where we can, creating goals and scoring goals.”
Q: Soumare and Daka both played well. Are the signings settling in now?
BR: “It’s going to take a bit of time. The first year for me, it’s just about settling into the environment. Coming from the Austrian and French leagues, it’s difficult. You come into this level, this tempo, this speed of game. It’s very difficult.
“These guys are working hard, they’re young players, they’re adapting to the training methodology, they’re adapting to the style. Both of them contributed well today.”
Q: You could hear how much the crowd enjoyed it. Did you enjoy it?
BR: “Yeah, I loved watching the team today. I said to them beforehand that I studied our last game against Crystal Palace as if I was just coming into the job, so I was really dispassionate in terms of what I am seeing.
“I then laid that out to the players, that it’s not what I want to see and it’s not how we’ve been. In fairness, this group have been brilliant for me.
“But we need to turn the screw and we need to keep that ambition, and keep proving the point. Today we proved the point that we can be a very good side when we play with that mentality and that hunger. To beat a team with that quality, it was a great victory for us.”