‘Calm yourself down’: Wayne Rooney tells Jordan Pickford ‘he needs to be much harder to beat’ but backs the Everton No 1 to recover from the fall out around Virgil van Dijk’s injury
- Jordan Pickford has come underfire following concern over his Everton form
- The England goalkeeper has made numerous high profile errors this term
- A dangerous tackle on Virgil van Dijk has also seen his judgement questioned
- But former Everton team-mate Wayne Rooney has backed him to bounce back
Wayne Rooney has leaped to the defence of underfire Everton keeper Jordan Pickford by claiming he has the ability to turn around his poor form.
Pickford has been criticised in recent times due to his erratic performances between the sticks at Goodison Park.
Although they have not hindered Everton following their unbeaten start to the season, which sees them top of the Premier League after the first five games, the England stopper has already made three high profile errors this term.
Everton keeper Jordan Pickford (left) has come underfire following a series of mistakes but his former Toffees team-mate Wayne Rooney (right) has backed him to bounce back
One incident against Brighton saw him drop a shot which allowed Neal Maupay to score while he also blundered twice in the Carabao Cup win over Fleetwood Town.
Rooney though backs his former Toffees team-mate, following their year together in 2017-18 before the 35-year-old departed, to turn around his form by just relaxing more on the pitch.
‘One issue, of course, is the mistakes of Jordan Pickford,’ he claimed in The Times.
‘I’m sure Jordan knows, himself, that he needs to be much harder to beat. I still believe his attributes make him both Everton and England’s best option and his errors aren’t massive, technical ones — they are down to the mental side of things.
One high profile error came this season when he dropped the ball at Neal Maupay’s feet allowing the Brighton striker to score at Goodison Park
Pickford and Rooney were team-mates together at Everton during the 2017-18 campaign
‘The one little bit of advice I’d give Jordan is just calm yourself down. Take some time.
‘With him, everything seems to be on a knife-edge, even to the point that when he’s kicking it long it looks like he’s kicking it as hard as he can — there was an instance, versus Liverpool, where he kicked it and nearly fell over afterwards.’
Attention on Pickford became even greater following the Merseyside derby earlier in October when an ill-timed and dangerous lunge on defender Virgil van Dijk saw him escape without punishment and leave the Dutchman all but out for the rest of the season.
While Rooney admits the 26-year-old should have been sent off, he claims the former Sunderland stopper did not intend to injure Van Dijk and it came as a consequence of having been in the wrong position to deal with the goal threat posed by the Liverpool star.
After a dangerous tackle on Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk which left the defender all but out for the rest of the season, attention on Pickford has become even greater recently
‘He has to deal with the fall out over Virgil van Dijk’s injury,’ Rooney added. ‘I think it was just unfortunate — Jordan got his positioning wrong and raced out quickly to try and block the shot, catching Van Dijk. It looked accidental — though it should have been a red card.’
Rooney’s words appear to be in line with Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti who although admits Pickford has areas to improve still claims he has seen positives from the keeper.
‘Sometimes he did well, sometimes he could do better. That’s it’, he said. ‘He could do better, but he did really well two or three times in that game [Merseyside derby] by making fantastic saves against [Trent] Alexander-Arnold in the first half and Joel Matip in the second half.
‘I think when we manage a performance, I’m used to looking at the right things, not only the wrong. I’m used to being quite cold, and try to see what he did good and what he did wrong.’