Garth Crooks has included Jordan Pickford in his BBC team of the week, stating the Everton goalkeeper seemed intent on “inflicting even more pain on Liverpool” at the weekend.
The Toffees keeper made six important saves to keep Everton’s city rivals at bay and ensure a 2-0 victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
It was one of Pickford’s best performances of the season, one void of the kind of errors that have underscored recent criticism.
However, former Tottenham Hotspur striker Crooks had reservations about including the £100,000-a-week (Sportrac) goalkeeper in his XI.
He wrote: “It is with some hesitation I find myself selecting Jordan Pickford for my team of the week.
“It was Pickford who put Virgil van Dijk out of the previous Merseyside derby with an awful challenge that went unpunished.
“However, football moves on very quickly and Pickford seemed intent on inflicting even more pain on Liverpool, this time on his return to Anfield.
“The England goalkeeper made a number of first-class saves, not least from Jordan Henderson’s volley.”
Pickford was the villain of the piece during the reverse fixture this season.
It was his challenge on van Dijk that left Liverpool’s Dutch defender out of action for the season. It is an incident that has been a key contributor to the Reds’ disastrous league form.
Crooks is obviously still angry about that challenge on Van Dijk. And he thinks the result may have been different if people were allowed on the Kop.
He wrote: “I can’t imagine the reception Pickford would have received had Liverpool fans been in the ground.
“Like on so many occasions, the absence of supporters has made such a huge difference.”
Despite his unpopularity in the red half of Merseyside, Pickford was one of many Everton heroes at Anfield.
His performance should be the benchmark for Pickford to push on and pour cold water on the criticsm he’s received.
Too often he has found himself the subject of negative press this season because of errors and an overzealous attitude.
England’s number one
There has been talk of Pickford being dropped from the England squad for this summer’s European Championships.
Nick Pope and Dean Henderson will be eyeing a starting slot. However, Gareth Southgate will argue Pickford has never let England down.
Then there’s the former Sunderland keeper’s excellent range of passing and ability to play with the ball at his feet.
If he can combine that with displays like the one he put in against Liverpool on Saturday, Pickford will have plenty of ammunition to deflect his detractors.
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