In an effort to psych herself up, my sister once turned on Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” before her driving test.
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin’
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s chokin’, how, everybody’s jokin’ now
The clocks run out, times up, over, blaow
It didn’t go well.
She psyched herself up too much and failed. I can only imagine what the driving instructor thought as my sister stormed up to the car, full of pent up rage, strangling the steering wheel, tyres screeching.
One of my mates once compared Jordan Pickford to Eminem. I can see the similarities, but for me he’s more like my sister blaring “Lose Yourself” before her driving test. He’s not Marshall Mathers, but rather a fan, listening, and getting riled up.
Blame for the two goals that Everton conceded against Fleetwood Town on Wednesday falls squarely on Jordan Pickford‘s shoulders.
(His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy)
The first started with a backpass from Michael Keane. When he gets the ball, two Fleetwood Town players close Pickford down. Instead of launching the ball into the stratosphere, Pickford elected to take another touch, ended up blasting the ball into the two attackers and fell to his knees as a third Fleetwood player, Mark Duffy, smashed home.
(There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti)
The second was even worse. An overhead kick from Callum Camps that sent the ball straight to Jordan Pickford somehow ended up in the back of the net with our erstwhile goalie smashing his fist on the turf. A lampost, if positioned in the same place as Pickford, would have saved Camps’ shot.
It’s really hard to know what to do with Jordan Pickford. Part of me doesn’t think he’s fixable.
My mind keeps going back to a snapshot of that first Fleetwood Town goal. He had time to clear it. How good is Pickford with his feet? And even more importantly, how fast is his decision making? It was a silly ball by Keane, but not impossible to deal with.
But there’s one more Jordan Pickford snapshot that keeps floating back. It’s of an elastic Jordan Pickford at his best, on the biggest stage of his career.
Pickford was a hero that night. A man brave (or crazy) enough to stand tall during the Russian roulette of a penalty shootout and press the gun confidently to his temple. Perhaps this is what Pickford needs… The spotlight. All eyes on him. A chance to win a match. Goalkeepers are tasked with *stopping* goals, but a penalty shootout is a chance to definitively *win* a game.
At a barrel-scrapingly poor Sunderland side, Pickford was put in goal in the 2016/17 season thanks to a combination of injuries and rotten form from other goalkeepers. That season, Pickford was a star. He faced an avalanche of shots, 189 of them to be specific, and saved 74% of them.
He hasn’t hit that level since then.
(He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
Is he the type of goalkeeper who needs to stay warm, diving all over the shop? If the avalanche of shots is reduced to a few snowballs, can he deal with them reliably? More and more, I’m beginning to think he can’t. He’s a wartime goalkeeper – screaming at a back line of mouth breathing imbeciles, diving around, dodging shrapnel. He screams “if you want a job done properly, do it yourself!”…
I’m 40. This is the first season in my existence that Everton have won their first 4 domestic games. Hopefully this success translates into a tighter defence, and fewer shots for our goalkeeper to deal with. We don’t need a wartime goalie, we need a safe pair of hands. We don’t need a hero. We need someone who doesn’t constantly make mistakes in pursuing Hollywood saves.
I have very little confidence that Jordan Pickford can be that person.
(The clocks run out, times up, over, blaow)