Jordan Pickford urges Everton to show ‘character’ and ‘fight’ in relegation battle

·3 min read
Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford insists they have the character needed to get out of relegation trouble (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford insists they have the character needed to get out of relegation trouble (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford believes the players are up for the fight as they find themselves mired in a relegation battle.

The 1-0 defeat at home by Aston Villa was their 10th in 14 league matches and the slide towards the bottom of the table has become an unthinkable but glaring reality for a club who have not been relegated since 1951.

With his side now just four points outside the bottom three, when the Premier League resumes after the international break caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson faces a must-win game at fellow strugglers Newcastle.

The former Toffees striker, taking interim charge during the hunt for a seventh permanent manager in six years, praised the effort of his players against Villa and Pickford believes they must harness that spirit to get themselves out of trouble.

“I think the fight, intensity, tempo was there. We showed that graft,” he told evertonfc.com.

“I think we showed character and desire. It was just that finishing touch (that evaded us) but that will come.

“It’s about working hard on the training pitch, and then going out there and expressing yourself with determination and we’ll get those results.”

It is not a confidence felt by many fans, around 150 of whom staged a sit-in protest after the match to register their anger at the way a club without a manager, director of football, head of recruitment or scouting and who have spent more than £500million on transfers since owner Farhad Moshiri took over in 2016.

Ferguson believes he will be at the helm for the Newcastle game, and the FA Cup tie at home to Brentford before that, but he will have no influence over transfers in the coming days.

“You never know in football, the new manager might turn up in the next few days but I think it is the next two or three games,” said the Scot.

Asked about whether he could offer some input into which, if any, new players come in before the window closes he added: “No, I’ve had no involvement in that.

“That will be down to other people who will be making the decision. If they want to ask me I’m obviously there but that will be down to other people.”

The contrast between Everton and Saturday’s victors Villa is marked.

Head coach Steven Gerrard – by no means a guaranteed success coming from Rangers – has won five of his 10 league matches since arriving in November.

He has a clear plan, is working in a settled structure, and has players who are improving rather than plateauing or deteriorating.

Goalscorer Emi Buendia and midfielder John McGinn are two such examples, although there are others.

“He’s been getting stronger and better in terms of his individual performances over the last few weeks,” said Gerrard of Buendia.

“Many outside would have thought his position would be under threat with (Philippe) Coutinho’s arrival but he has helped Phil settle in and I am proud of both of them.

“The thing with Emi is people see him as a little, technical footballer, which is good but he will compete, he will go to ground for you and be big in the air.

“’Ginny’ was fighting for everything. We missed him against United (last weekend’s 2-2 draw), so to have him (back) showed how important he is for Villa.”