Everton manager Marco Silva has stood by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after his late error cost the Blues a draw in Sunday’s Merseyside derby.
The Toffees more than matched second-placed Liverpool on their own turf and had several key chances to take the lead, but the game looked to be heading to a goalless draw until Pickford presenting Divock Origi with a tap-in in the 96th minute.
Pickford was widely criticised in the media for failing to let Virgil van Dijk’s stray shot land out of play, but Silva says he is not worried about his state of mind.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s fixture at home to Newcastle United, he said:
“He has been working normally. He did normal work like all of his team mates yesterday. We talked about the match, we analysed the match as well. We will do the same this afternoon but are now preparing for the next match. That one is the past and everything in football is a good moment for us to learn from the good things and the other things as well.
“Jordan is a very good goalkeeper. He gave us many many good things in the past. I’m sure in the future he will keep giving us good things as well. It’s a moment for him to feel the support of all of us.
“I feel he doesn’t need many things because a professional. He knows how football is. When he saves some penalties, everybody is happy with him and it is fantastic. Now is something not normal in football. It has already passed. He has to look forward to the next match.”
When asked if he had spoken personally to Pickford, 24, Silva revealed he already did so at the full-time whistle on Sunday afternoon.
But the Blues manager is confident that the togetherness in Everton’s dressing room, and the unwavering support of the Goodison Park faithful, will ensure Pickford stays strong despite a difficult last few days:
“I did [speak to Pickford] straight at the end of the match and it’s possible I will again. He knows, and everyone inside our dressing room knows, that when we win, we win together and when we don’t win, we are all together again. It’s our way. It’s the team spirit we have inside our dressing room.”
“I don’t have doubts about that [that the fans will back Pickford]. [He is a] very good character; he will show his quality again. I don’t have doubts about that and we as a team should show again our character as a team as well.”
Silva also added that he held no ill feeling towards Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp after his somewhat overzealous celebrations following Origi’s winner in the dying moments.
Klopp ran onto the pitch and hugged Reds goalkeeper Alisson Becker, before apologising to Silva for his behaviour after the game.
But Silva said he sees this as a non-issue, and believes the circumstances made Klopp’s emotional reaction understandable; though he reiterated he did not see the incident at the time:
“In that moment I didn’t see what Jürgen did, like I told Sky at the end of the match. Of course, it’s a happy moment for him; for me, not, of course.
“Now I’ve seen it and for me it’s not even a matter. It’s a normal situation how he is celebrating; it’s emotion. It’s not something he has planned, for sure.
“Even I don’t know, if we score in that moment, what my reaction will be; if I go to Jordan, if I go to our fans. It’s something i cannot tell you. It’s something in the moment; in a derby, a special game, as well. One moment he didn’t expect for sure, a goal in that moment after van Dijk’s shot. It’s a normal situation, nothing more.
“I am so upset with that moment I didn’t see. Because I know we have one more minute to play, I try to think fast with my technical staff what I can do in that moment to try to have the last minute to change something. Now I see it and for me it’s normal, and if I did the same, of course, I’m sure Jürgen will accept it as well.”
Klopp was consequently fined £8,000 by the Football Association for his actions and warned about his future conduct, a charge which the German accepted.
Silva felt the punishment was fairly harsh on his Merseyside counterpart, but accepted that, ultimately, he breached the rules set out by the FA:
“If you ask me, I think he shouldn’t [be fined] but the FA has to decide the rules. It’s up to them. Of course, at that moment the manager can’t think about fines. It is the moment to celebrate. Some will go one way, the others will go the other way.
“I know the last two days everybody is talking about the situation, but for me it’s not even a matter because it’s normal in football. Football players celebrating with the fans, some of them taking their shirt off, Klopp or myself or the others celebrating the goal with the fans or with a player; I think it’s part of the game and is something you can’t stop. It’s really important as well; even if sometimes you get fined. It’s the passion of the game.”
Despite the heartbreaking finale to Sunday’s derby, Silva admitted he was delighted with how the Blues fared at a ground where only leaders Manchester City have taken a point this season, and did not deserve to leave empty-handed.
He felt the Toffees again showed they are improving game by game, but added that rather than talking about an exciting game of high quality, Klopp’s celebrations has been a more prominent topic of conversation since the game ended:
“[It was a] very good performance. I already told you it’s not the moment to keep talking about the match because it’s the past. I think we didn’t deserve it. Many, many good things to talk about the match and I felt that people are talking more about Jürgen’s celebration than the match because it was a very good derby in my opinion.
“It was a different derby than the previous seasons as well. Of course, the result was not what we want, but we keep taking positive things from the match. Of course, the main thing was the result. We didn’t achieve it but we showed we are in a very good way.”