By Dave Downie
Everton have been accused of being a boring team to watch this season, how they could’ve done with that description befitting their second half showing at St James’ Park.
Jordan Pickford has shouldered most of the blame of those on the pitch who let a two goal lead slip away so easily, and it’s with good cause.
The 25 year-old’s performance was nothing short of reckless and immature in front of a crowd that baited and mocked him from the moment he took to the pitch to warm up.
It’s not the first time he’ll have felt the wrath of the Tyneside faithful, and judging by the rise he gave in return only to lose is head at crucial moments, it will be far from the last or the worst.
Pickford’s attitude and performance have been an underlying concern for Everton since he returned from the World Cup to a hero’s welcome last summer. Whilst his ability has rarely been in question, his application in more than a few games this season has made it increasingly difficult to ignore the errors that have come to the fore.
His ill-disciplined actions against Newcastle depict a player who has forgotten himself. Intimidating the crowd by pulling faces and staring down individuals whose prerogative it is to get under his skin was fighting a losing battle from the second he engaged with it.
What does he get from it?
Surely the best response to the baying Geordie public would be to win the match just as he did last season at Goodison.
Even when he was given a reprieve by avoiding a red card before saving a penalty he gave away, Pickford continued to play with a rashness caused by his intense rebuttal to the crowd.
Now whilst he has an obligation to conduct himself in a more professional manner, the question also arises: where was his captain, his teammates or even his manager to instruct him to calm himself?
After half-time it continued with nobody stepping forward and taking charge of a situation many fans had already pointed out as the game wore on.
Others were also at fault for the capitulation, but the absence of characters either on the pitch or touchline was chronically obvious.
At two-nil up and cruising, the hard part of the game had already been completed. Of course pressure is inevitably going to follow from a home side desperate for any scraps to fall their way, but all Everton needed to do was show composure and take the sting out of the game.
When the moment came that required cool heads, sensible captaincy and at the very least some maturity, the team were yet again found to be rudderless from back to front.
Individual errors in football matches are a given, but they’re minimised by the correct attitude and concentration on the job in hand.
The truth is, Everton are a club that have lacked leadership for a long time.
Sadly, the scenes on show at Newcastle paint an all too familiar picture for Evertonians.
When is somebody going to take responsibility and act that doesn’t involve throw away comments after the event?