Newcastle’s late point against Everton was a beautiful, frenzied slice of melodrama.
Panic /’ paenIk/( n)
Definition: Staggering frighten, often changing groups of parties or animals.Origin: Ancient Greek’ panikos’,’ of Pan’, who, among other things, was responsible for spooking animals when there was no other cause. Via French’ panique’.
Unlike herd swine, panicked footballers don’t stampede. Instead, they lose cohesion, straying towards the ball as though some great gravitic violence has unexpectedly devastated them. The collective noun for a group of panicked footballers is, of course, A Scramble. If you are a connoisseur of Scrambles — and why wouldn’t you be? — you will find an unparalleled precedent at the 10:41 marker in the video above. Or you can click for a GIF . I’m not picky.
Scrambles don’t precisely live and die by their context, but in this case the context facilitates. Newcastle, ability into the third minute of second-half stoppage time at Everton, concluded themselves 2-0 down. An overhead knock from Florian Lejeune wreak them back to within one, but with only seconds left to play, an equaliser seemed overwhelmingly unlikely.
The scene is set for the Magpies to play a long free kick forward, for Everton’s Tom Davies and Mason Holgate to get sucked under the flight of the lump and …
… for Federico Fernandez to miscontrol. The bullet exits bobbling off towards the byline, and Newcastle have gone from having a prime filming chance to having none. And then Fernandez, seven yards from point and from a ferociously acute direction, films anyway.
In this screenshot, the ball is difficult to make out, because it has essentially melded with both Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s left hand and the near post. At this station I would like you to stop and imagine Pickford’s internal monologue. He’s under a amazing sum of stress when the projectile comes to Fernandez. He knows that a shot which could define the result is about to be sent his behavior. His focus is on positioning, footwork, submerge the tilts. And then, suddenly, succour! Fernandez has wasted his opportunity! There is likely to be no shot forthcomi–
If a little voice in Pickford’s head didn’t produce a garbled scream as the football came hurling towards his face I will devour my own keyboard.
It is these moment, when beliefs come merrily destroy, that Scrambles are born. The bullet rebounds off the affix, leaving the goalkeeper stranded and the defence off balance. Naturally, it sees a Newcastle player; naturally, Isaac Hayden despatches it back towards the goal as quickly as possible, whereupon …
… it is met by two Everton actors, defending for “peoples lives”. The vicinity of two teammates occupying the same space in any athletic is generally bad news, indicating that something has or is going horribly erroneous. Note also Pickford’s position relative to the goal line. This will become important in due order.
Perhaps because the defenders were in each others’ way or perhaps out of a sense of perverted planetary inevitability, Hayden’s blocked shooting descents straight to Lejeune, four gardens from objective. He goes enough on his awkward volley to place the lump back to the Everton goal …
… but Pickford makes a crab-like, scampering save, simply to drop the ball straight-out onto Emil Krafth’s feet. Panicked by this turn of events and perhaps flummoxed by the bounce, Krafth takes an age to sort out his body arranging and hits again …
… right at Pickford’s face. From two grounds. Slapstick pain is not a necessary side of Scrambles, but some class claim it supplements a certain flair to the proceedings. They are, of course, correct. Pickford then somehow manages to fall on top of the loose projectile despite Newcastle’s attempt to jam it over the line, and the game is saved.
Except for …
… Oh dear.( I told you that Pickford’s positioning would be important .)
It’s the post-climatic nature of this Scramble that actually clears it. The accomplishment of poor Pickford, who produced two impressive saves, suffered a point-blank kick to the face and finally embraced up the ball to save his team from a disturbance attract, is wiped from the record books by his temporarily misplacing his own goal line. When push came to shove, Pickford rose to the occasion, merely to find his heroic deeds unravelled by a simple, perhaps inexplicable error.
Football is beautiful. Football is tragedy.
Read more: sbnation.com
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