Everton looked set to get back to winning ways as they stormed into a 2-0 lead over Newcastle on Saturday, although that wasn’t to be the case for Marco Silva’s men, who would bottle that advantage and allow their hosts to pull off a late, great comeback, thus ensuring all three points remained on Tyneside.
Having lost three of their last five, it was essential for the Toffees to get a result against a resurgent Magpies side and for much of the first half it appeared they were on track for a decent victory. Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Everton’s own Jordan Pickford had other ideas.
The England number one, after his side went up, frequently taunted the St James’ Park faithful and you can certainly said he got what he deserved – the former Sunderland man was largely culpable as Everton’s lead crumbled.
First, Pickford rugby tackled Rondon to the ground after failing to deal with a ball into the box and fortunately saved the resulting penalty – he undoubtedly got away with this one as, not only was the spot-kick from Matt Ritchie poor, but the custodian should have been sent off.
The 25-year-old’s luck wouldn’t last though – he arguably should have done better with Rondon’s shot at goal, letting it under him perhaps too easily, while he parried Miguel Almiron’s long-shot straight into the path of Perez, who slotted home the equaliser.
Three minutes later, the Magpies were a goal ahead with Perez having bagged his second and Pickford’s inflammatory antics in front of the home crowd had stopped completely.
With this underwhelming performance the latest of many in recent months, it seems that the shot-stopper’s starting berth for the Three Lions is under real threat.
Every England fan fell in love with Pickford in the summer for his loudmouth approach but now that is seriously jeopardising his career – he must focus on the game far more or risk his increasingly frequent mistakes taking him down the path Joe Hart followed at a similar stage in his career.
Burnley stopper Hart won the Golden Glove four times between 2010 and 2015 but one year within that five year period was calamitous. In 2013, the then-26-year-old had an error-stricken season, summarised in this article by The Guardian.
The former Manchester City man, who twice won the Premier League with the Citizens, had similar difficulties as Pickford, with poor handling costing him and his side on multiple occasions that year. Particularly in the 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich in October 2013, Hart was at fault twice; beaten at his near post on two occasions, the ‘keeper’s horror show led to a scathing assessment from Gary Neville and doubts being cast on his suitably as England’s number 1.
A few campaigns down the line an over-hyped Hart frequently cost his side again, this time with England at Euro 2016 *shudders*. The 75-cap international let Gareth Bale’s long-range effort inexplicably find a way under him before, more crucially, failing to keep out Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s winner in the embarrassing loss to Iceland in the last 16.
Hart is a player who plays with character and raw emotion. The problem is that his exuberance between the sticks has impacted on his concentration. It’s all well and good expressing yourself on the pitch and, in Pickford’s case, jibing the opposition supporters, but an overzealous approach to that side of the game can detract from the fundamentals which really matter.
If Pickford continues to allow his emotions to tarnish his performances then, just like Hart, he could suddenly find both his club and England career in trouble.
What a comeback by Newcastle against Everton on Saturday! Check out what the jubilant Geordies made of it all in the video below…
Last weekend we saw the danger posed to players by fans who get a bit too emotionally invested in the occasion of a football match so it certainly isn’t wise, either, of Pickford to stick his tongue out at the crowd. You should only talk the talk if you can walk the walk and, recently, the out-of-form ace is stumbling at best.
Hopefully Saturday’s poor result should serve as the lesson Pickford needs ahead of a difficult clash with Chelsea this weekend.