Walcott eases pressure on Allardyce

An Everton official holding the AV1 robot which enabled Everton fan Jack McLinden (not in picture) to be the first "virtual match-day mascot".
An Everton official holding the AV1 robot which enabled Everton fan Jack McLinden (not in picture) to be the first "virtual match-day mascot".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Theo Walcott's sharp finish on Monday shielded Sam Allardyce from further hostility after last week's public relations fiasco when fans were asked to rate the unpopular manager on a scale of zero to 10 in a club survey.

Walcott's third goal since arriving from Arsenal in January lifted an otherwise grim affair and Everton to eighth in the Premier League, as Newcastle's four-game winning streak came to a subdued end following the 1-0 defeat.

The game was better remembered for a heartwarming moment after a seriously ill Everton fan made history as the world's first "virtual match-day mascot".

Jack McLinden, 14 , was able to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience through AV1, a telepresence robot. It was the first time a child was able to perform match-day mascot duties remotely, with the robot's integrated camera, microphone and speaker enabling the virtual experience of being on the pitch.

Everton captain Phil Jagielka carried the robot as he led his team out with the AV1 connected to McLinden's iPad at home - allowing him to see and hear the experience in real-time through the robot.

Allardyce had called for clarity over his future, but a glance to his left before the kick-off would have given him a reminder of the clarification many supporters are hoping for, with a banner reading: "Our survey says… Get out of our club."

"The controversy was caused by an error by one of our employees, which he obviously realises wasn't the right thing to do... you just deal with it and move on," said the former England manager in his post-match interview.

"But the players did all the talking, I'm glad to say, by winning the game again at home, and... hopefully finish this season as strong as we possibly can."

Rafael Benitez claimed referee Bobby Madley was too lenient with Everton's physical approach, but a lack of quality in attack was glaring.

"It might have been different if we had done better with the final pass in the final third," said Benitez.

"In this kind of game when they are very physical and the referee allows them to do these things, that is an advantage."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'Walcott eases pressure on Allardyce'. Print Edition | Subscribe