Saturday 21 April 2018

Everton fans turn on Allardyce as Burnley halt slide

Burnley 2 Everton 1

Sam Allardyce is under mounting pressure Photo: PA
Sam Allardyce is under mounting pressure Photo: PA

Richard Jolly

As Burnley made a minor piece of history, Sam Allardyce was offered ample indications that Everton's supporters would like to see him consigned to their past.

Sean Dyche's side ended a 12-game run without a victory, taking three points for the first time since the heady December night when they went fourth and reaching the 40-point barrier that tends to denote safety. Meanwhile, Allardyce was singled out for abuse from the travelling Evertonians when he substituted goalscorer Cenk Tosun and branded a "fat, greedy bastard" after removing the excellent Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Burnley's Ashley Barnes celebrates scoring their first goal Photo: Reuters
Burnley's Ashley Barnes celebrates scoring their first goal Photo: Reuters

In contrast, Burnley could savour their togetherness. This was the first time since 2010 that they won a Premier League fixture where they conceded first, a 53-game run ended with a show of spirit and managerial intervention. Dyche brought on Chris Wood for the ineffective Jeff Hendrick at the break, and Burnley's record signing justified the switch to 4-4-2 by heading in the winner.

It made for a traumatic return to Turf Moor for Michael Keane. Burnley pocketed £30m for his services last summer. Ashley Barnes escaped from his former team-mate to score the leveller. Wood out-jumped the man who helped finance his arrival for the decider. Nor did Keane's centre-back sidekick fare any better. Ashley Williams lost Wood initially. He connected with Barnes later, elbowing the irrepressible forward and collecting a red card.

Williams was captaining Everton, another indication that they may require a change of leadership. Yet if Allardyce can argue he got his initial decisions right, there was still an illogicality.

Rewind to the comparatively balmy days of early February and he suggested Tosun was struggling with the English weather. Brought in from the cold, and yet into the cold, the £27m striker opened his Everton account in an accomplished display. Tosun's goal was nevertheless one to prompt questions of why he had not started for six weeks. It was taken with predatory expertise and showed the sort of aerial ability Allardyce tends to appreciate in a striker.

Ashley Williams gets a red card Photo: Getty
Ashley Williams gets a red card Photo: Getty

The Turkey international headed past Nick Pope when the returning Séamus Coleman flicked on Theo Walcott's cross. He had exchanged passes with Sigurdsson as they struck up a profitable alliance. They had combined when the Englishman skied a shot after the Icelander embarked on a mazy solo run.

Sigurdsson, meanwhile, was silky, bringing incision and invention. He was the supplier when Tosun threatened a second, drawing a save from Pope, and when the goalkeeper had to save from Walcott.

It was an illustration what he can do in a central creative role which, because of Wayne Rooney's presence, he has rarely been afforded. When Rooney was benched, Sigurdsson shone. When he came on, though the £45m man came close to a winner, he was a diminished figure. It underlined the impression that Everton's summer business created unnecessary complications.

The one boon from their recruitment drive was the arrival of Jordan Pickford, who excelled in front of the watching Gareth Southgate. This was a display to suggest he should be England's World Cup goalkeeper. He amounted to a one-man resistance, making two terrific saves from Barnes, denying Aaron Lennon a goal against his old employers and, after tipping his shot wide, saving from Ben Mee after the resulting corner.

Pickford was blameless when Barnes levelled. The excellent Matthew Lowton's through pass was weighted and curled perfectly for the onrushing striker. For Everton, and for Allardyce, it would only get worse.

Observer

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