Alex McLeish admits he was alarmed how much three changes to the starting XI impacted Everton against Southampton on Sunday.
The former Premier League and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, claims the Toffees were “flummoxed” by the Saints in their 2-0 defeat.
Carlo Ancelotti brought Gylfi Sigurdsson, Ben Godfrey and Alex Iwobi into the side, with Andre Gomes benched, Seamus Coleman injured and Richarlison suspended.
However, goals from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams condemned Everton to their first defeat of the new season.
McLeish admits he was surprised how much the three changed affected the Toffees’ performance but insists that Ancelotti cannot be blamed for the disappointing loss.
“Three changes shouldn’t seem, to me, have too much effect on the team,” McLeish told Football Insider.
“It was a surprising result given the way the teams have been playing recently but there has been a wee bit of a revival in Southampton’s form and they’ve gone with the partnership up front of two strikers. That has flummoxed one or two of their opponents.
“I don’t think there’s anything to chastise Ancelotti about it, you’ve got to make these decisions regardless and you can’t say after the game: ‘Argh, I shouldn’t have made those changes. I’ve done it, we’ve lost the game, that’s it and we move on.'”
Having won their opening four games, Everton drawn and lost their last two fixtures.
They are set to miss Richarlison and Lucas Digne for their next match against Newcastle United after both were sent off in successive weeks.