Darren Bent remains sceptical of Jordan Pickford’s ability to command the area.
Following England’s triumphant 6-0 qualifying win in Bulgaria, somewhat marred by racist chanting from the stands towards members of the squad, Bent has explained how Pickford may not be the best choice between the sticks.
Speaking to Football Insider, Bent explained how Pickford does, in fact, command a presence in the box but his lack of communication doesn’t bode well for the national team.
Having firmly established himself as Gareth Southgate’s first-choice shot-stopper, Pickford stepped up to the plate when no other candidates emerged to replace Joe Hart at the 2018 World Cup.
As a result, the Everton man had a brilliant tournament – becoming the hero in a Last 16 penalty shoot-out win over Colombia.
Now, however, Pickford and his defence sit in the bottom three of the Premier League – with former Sunderland forward Bent stating they will always be shaky defensively until the keeper can improve his communication.
“I think he tries to [take command] but that comes from uncertainty between the two centre-halves – the people in front of you – and himself,” explained Bent.
“Balls are flying in the box left, right and centre and no one’s going and attacking it. No one’s putting their head on it and then when your goalkeeper doesn’t come and get it, that puts that seed of doubt in everybody’s head.
“Every set play you’re like: ‘Oh god, here we go again, what’s going to happen now?’”
While it’s hard to deny Pickford’s impact in Russia, there were some high-profile mistakes last season in which he failed to fully take control of his area. Indeed, there was his performance at St. James’ Park against Newcastle United during which he made a mistake as his side managed to lose 3-2 after going 2 up, while he was also culpable for Divock Origi’s famous late winner in a Merseyside derby at Anfield in December.
Last season, the 25-year-old made four errors leading to goals in the Premier League (the joint third highest out of any player), so perhaps Bent does have a point. Still, there are obvious pluses to his game, with the Guardian describing him as a ‘trailblazer’ back in 2018 for his ability on the ball.
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