By Richard Parks
Jamie Carragher insisted on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football programme that Ashley Williams wanted to get sent off during Everton‘s 2-1 Premier League defeat to Burnley on Saturday.
Carragher was hugely critical of the centre-back, 33, for his performance at Turf Moor as the Merseysiders failed to hold on to the 1-0 lead given to them by Cenk Tosun.
Ashley Barnes scored the equaliser for Sean Dyche’s side before substitute Chris Wood scored the winner with some classic centre-forward play on an afternoon in which Everton could not cope with the two-pronged attack of the hosts.
Williams, who has been a mainstay of the Everton defence this season, got his marching orders after 86 minutes for striking Barnes in the face in what was deemed to be a professional foul, earning him a straight red card and a three-match ban.
Liverpool legend and Sky pundit Carragher tore into Williams as he highlighted the Wales international’s inadequacies.
“Burnley had a plan to expose Everton’s centre-backs, the lack of pace of Ashley Williams and maybe the lack of understanding of Michael Keane,” Carragher told Monday Night Football.
“I criticised Michael Keane on the day and maybe I was a little bit harsh. His body positioning could have been better for the first goal but the biggest culprit is Ashley Williams. It’s lazy defending.
“If you play against two players up front you can’t allow them to get in between two centre-backs. Ashley Williams has to be in a different position.
“It was lazy defending and summed his day up really with what happened at the end. Barnes absolutely battered and bullied those two centre-backs.
“For the winning goal I’ve mentioned Keane, I’ve mentioned Williams and I’ve mentioned Pickford and they could all do better, mainly Pickford. But it was a great decision to bring on Chris Wood at half-time because Barnes had battered them first half and now they had two of them.
“They just weren’t up to it and eventually I think they threw the towel in and Ashley Williams got himself sent off when I think he wanted to get himself sent off.”
Football Insider verdict:
Carragher has clearly brought an ex-professional’s eye to the performance of Williams, who looks past his best and ready for the knacker’s yard. There is no hiding place in Premier League football and the 76-times Wales international is struggling to cope with the scrutiny against quicker and more athletic forwards. Williams had arrived at Everton two years ago as a proven and battle-hardened centre-back who could be relied upon to deliver the goods. His reputation has suffered as he has failed to come anywhere close to matching the standards he set during his time at Swansea.