Football

Can Everton Really Succeed With Jordan Pickford?

Jordan Pickford. Credit- The Totally Football Show

Everton have started off the new season in fine form with four wins out of four. The arrival of Carlo Ancelotti last December has taken the club to the next level. The Italian’s astute business in the transfer market this summer added several strong players to an already impressive squad. The Blue team from Merseyside are finally playing the good football they have so often promised. They look set to mount a significant challenge to finish in the top 4 this season. But there is one recurring problem for the Toffees. Jordan Pickford.

The Problem?

Jordan Pickford was signed for £30 million from Sunderland in June 2017. A lot of money to pay for a young goalkeeper, especially for a team outside the top six. However, Pickford had just came off the back of an impressive season with the Black Cats and had been their shining light in a dismal year which saw them relegated from the Premier League. He produced a string of great performances and this saw him nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award. It seemed like good business at the time.

Fast forward three years and Pickford has not lived up to expectations. Instead of progressing, he has seemingly regressed. Everton fans have become accustomed to seeing calamitous errors from him leading to goals. His inability to deal with shots from outside the box is a huge concern. At the end of the 2019/2020 Premier League season, Pickford ranked 24th out of an eligible 28 goalkeepers for save percentage, with a measly 63.4%. Combine his poor save percentage with his tendency for errors and you can see clearly that Everton have a problem. A problem which is hurting them. Everton have only kept one clean sheet in four league games this season, conceding five goals. In all competitions, they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five. As good as their attacking play has been this season, Everton cannot expect to keep winning without an improvement in their defence, and in particular, Pickford’s performances.

Jordan Pickford. Credit- The Guardian

Potential

Pickford has not delivered for Everton since his arrival in 2017. He has statistically been one of the worst keepers in the Premier League since his arrival in Merseyside. However, he undoubtedly still has potential to be a great keeper, he just needs to begin fulfilling it. Although short for a goalkeeper, Pickford makes up for his length with good reflexes and remarkable agility. These were emphasised on the biggest stage when he made a stunning save to deny Colombia an equaliser in the 2018 World Cup. Another of Pickford’s strength’s is his distribution. He is confident on the ball and playing out from the back, a necessity for many manager’s tactics in the modern game. He also has an eye for what is ahead of him and can launch a ball over the opposition’s defence with ease. The young goalkeeper is also an extremely confident individual. Despite his penchant for costly errors, Pickford can pick himself up and carry on without his confidence seemingly taking a hit. An important attribute that all the best goalkeepers possess in abundance.

Jordan Pickford save against Colombia. Credit- The Telegraph

Deadline Day Deal

Everton signed Swedish shot stopper Robin Olsen on loan from Roma in a deadline day deal. Whilst not a big name signing, Olsen comes with international pedigree as Sweden’s number one. He was signed by Roma as a replacement for Allison after his big money move to Liverpool. Although it hasn’t quite panned out in the Italian capital for Olsen, he still has the quality to replace Pickford as the Toffee’s number one this season. It is an interesting signing from Ancelotti. He has stuck by Pickford ever since he took the reigns last year, but this loan deal shows that he recognises the Englishman’s struggles between the sticks.

Ancelotti is perhaps the most experienced manager in world football. He knows when to be ruthless. He has sold big name players that did not deliver for him before; Henry, Di Maria and Ozil to name a few. This season could make or break Pickford’s Everton career. With the addition of another international goalkeeper into the squad, there is now more pressure on the Englishman than ever before to start delivering for the Toffees.

Will he improve and live up to the high expectations he once seemed destined for? Or will he continue to struggle and hold the Toffees back from a potential top four finish?

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