Neville Southall believes Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has received more stick than Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently. It has been quite the week for Pickford, who picked up criticism from all quarters for his performance in the Blues’ win over Brighton on Saturday afternoon. The former Sunderland man was at fault for the Seagulls’ first goal at Goodison Park, with his mistake coming just weeks after he made two errors against Fleetwood Town in the League Cup. Neville has issued a firm defence of Pickford, claiming there seems to be an agenda with England where as soon as a player gets into the team, someone wants them out, and right now it seems to be the 26-year-old’s turn.
Neville Southall said “As for England, it looks like Nick Pope might make his debut in goal but I do have sympathy for Pickford, If he comes back in against Belgium on Sunday, he’ll have a gang of snipers watching him, all with their targets trained on him. That’s a lot of pressure for anybody. It feels like he’s had more stick recently than Boris Johnson – who’s done more damage to this country than Pickford ever will – but for me he’s still better than all the other English goalies. At Everton, Carlo Ancelotti has brought in another goalkeeper in Robin Olsen but I think he doesn’t need competition – he’s got competition going on in his head right now. The competition he needs to win is with himself and people forget that. He wants to do well and you can see him getting really frustrated. When he was at Sunderland, he made some fantastic saves but he was busy. It’s more difficult when it’s quiet and his concentration isn’t quite there. He has to find what he needs to help him concentrate. I used to ask how golfers could go from one hole to another and keep their focus as you can’t concentrate for five whole hours. Pickford’s mistake for Brighton’s goal last Saturday was a situation that arises when you’re not having the best of times. If he was doing well, he’d have grabbed the ball or the shot would have been cleared off the line. Some of his punching got highlighted too but would you prefer someone who goes, ‘I’m having bad a time and will stay on my line and not deal with anything’? He was still being positive. People also hammer him on social media saying he’s not taking it seriously as he’s got a grin on his face, but he’s just different. The guy is an international footballer, he takes it seriously. Sometimes you have to go through these things but the answer is inside of him. Everything is in his head. I, for one, hope he comes through it.”
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