By Richard Parks
Jamie Redknapp is right.
Everton fans are scapegoating the wrong guy in Yannick Bolasie.
They should instead be fingering Theo Walcott, who, as Redknapp pointed out in the Daily Mail, went into “hiding” during their side’s goalless draw against Liverpool on Saturday.
Bolasie was getting it in the neck from supporters for his errant distribution and for trying things that did not come off.
Manager Sam Allardyce clearly felt the same and hauled off the former Crystal Palace player after 61 minutes and replaced him with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
On the other flank, Walcott played the full 90 minutes but Redknapp was not alone in being hugely unimpressed by the performance of the England international, 29, during the dreary clash at Goodison Park.
“Watching the Merseyside derby, Yannick Bolasie was turned into a scapegoat. The fans were furious whenever he gave the ball away. For me, they were picking on the wrong guy.
“On the other wing, Theo Walcott was hiding. Ragnar Klavan was Liverpool’s left back and there for the taking, but Walcott barely tried to take him on. That is not the personality of an Everton player. The Goodison Park faithful have always enjoyed having exciting wide men and Sam Allardyce has to get more out of his.”
Redknapp has become a strident critic as the years has gone by, and his verdict on Walcott is a harsh one. Is it true? Well, yes, it actually is.
The January signing did little of note against Liverpool and was far too happy to take the easy option each time, by passing backwards or sideways, rather than try and roast Klavan, a centre-back by trade whose lack of mobility as well as experience of the left-back position made him the home side’s potential weak link.
That the 32-year-old was able to cope so easily with Walcott was a damning indictment of the former Arsenal man, who has not made the impact either he or Everton would have desired since his £20million winter transfer.
Sure, Bolasie did not have a good game, but at least he is trying things and playing on the front foot.
Walcott has not lost the turbo-charged pace that elevates him into a special player, but he is devoid of confidence following a campaign in which he has scored just two league goals.
He is an experienced operator and needs to stand up and be counted.