DOMINIC KING: Pickford returned to the side with a point to prove

Jordan Pickford returned to the Everton side with a point to prove against Manchester United… and despite a rash kick on Harry Maguire, the England No 1 responded to the challenge

  • REPORT: Bruno Fernandes is the star of the show as Man United earn vital win
  • Jordan Pickford escaped punishment after a challenge with Harry Maguire 
  • Pickford was ‘rested’ last week but was brought back into the team for United
  • The England No 1 responded and now Carlo Ancelotti needs others to step up 

The message from Carlo Ancelotti was emphatic as he attempted to draw a line under the story of the week.

‘His mentality is good,’ said Everton’s manager, as he confirmed Jordan Pickford would return between the posts for the visit of Manchester United. 

‘I don’t want it to change. He’s a good guy, a funny guy, and I don’t want to change his mentality or his character.’

Jordan Pickford was back in the spotlight as he started in Everton’s loss to Manchester United

Pickford was ‘rested’ for the Newcastle defeat but responded well in his return against United

Ancelotti has a good relationship with Pickford and the affection in his voice made it obvious there was no personal grudge. What has been equally evident, though, is the Italian’s desire to see a change in his No 1’s form.

‘Rested’ was Ancelotti’s explanation for leaving Pickford out at Newcastle last week but the reality is England’s No 1 saw Robin Olsen take his place at St James’ Park because his form had not been of the required level. He returned against United with a point to prove.

One of the criticisms aimed at Pickford has surrounded the mania that has crept into his performances, almost as if he is operating on fast forward while everyone else is moving at normal speed. He has fantastic instincts and reflexes but, recently, there has been too much impetuosity.

There needed to be maturity against United, a sense that the dial had been turned down. In the main, that was the case and it was particularly evident during the opening 45 minutes, when Everton should have taken advantage of their opponent’s vulnerability.

Take his kicking: occasionally he puts so much power into his distribution, he can resemble US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau attempting to crunch a drive 400 yards: hit it hard and hit it far and let’s see where it goes.

Despite a 3-1 loss on Saturday, the England goalkeeper wasn’t at fault for any of United’s goals

Bruno Fernandes was completely unmarked to head home United’s equaliser on Merseyside

He shouldn’t rely on power. His distribution is excellent and he kept it all ticking over for Everton with sensible balls out to his defenders, in an attempt to help set a rhythm. When he did go long, it reaped dividends as his 60-yard clip up to Dominic Calvert-Lewin led to Bernard opening the scoring.

It should have provided a foundation for Everton to attack but Pickford was left exposed by his own team’s defending – no blame could be attached to him for the two goals Bruno Fernandes plundered in the space of eight minutes to transform the shape of the contest.

Pickford made saves when he needed to – the best was one with his feet to thwart Marcus Rashford in the 72nd minute – and it was a shame his only fault was when he dropped a cross under pressure from Harry Maguire. To be fair to him, television replays showed he had been pushed in the chest by his England team-mate and it explained why he berated referee Paul Tierney.

He looked frustrated at the final whistle, his emotions exacerbated by the concession of a breakaway Edinson Cavani goal, but this defeat had nothing to do with Pickford and Ancelotti would certainly have recognised as much.

The frustration, nonetheless, was understandable. Everton, after such a bright start, have lost their way and there are issues – such as getting James Rodriguez to understand he needs to track back – Ancelotti must solve. He has given Pickford a jolt. Others need to similarly respond. 

Pickford made a smart save to deny England team-mate Marcus Rashford in the second half

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti will be pleased with by Pickford and hope others can follow

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