Phil McNulty: Jordan Pickford’s got a lot of work to do

Everton’s season has been one of mixed reviews thus far. On occasion, Marco Silva’s team have looked deadly, especially when their key players – like Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson – have linked up well. However, in the same breath, they’ve had incredible periods of disappointment, and that’s exactly what they’re going through at the moment.

A disappointing 3-2 loss to Newcastle, despite leading the game 2-0, serves as a microcosm for Everton’s season, given the excitement and potential that was then contrasted with disappointment and anger.

At the heart of that game was Jordan Pickford. At times, it seemed as though the environment – which saw him face a tough atmosphere given his Sunderland connections – got to him, and that led to a few mistakes from the Englishman. That wasn’t a one-off, however. Following on from a brilliant summer with England and a good debut campaign with Everton last term, it’s been a spell of stagnation for the 25-year-old.

Make no mistake, despite being, on his day, one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers, Pickford is quickly becoming a big problem for Marco Silva – and BBC pundit Phil McNulty fears that the impact of his poor form could extend beyond Goodison Park and into Wembley.

As per BBC Sport, he said: ‘He [Pickford] is responsible for more errors (four) leading directly to goals than any other player in the Premier League, including the catastrophic 96th-minute mistake that handed Divock Origi Liverpool’s winner at Anfield in December’.

He continued: ‘Pickford has an increased save percentage but after 30 league games last season he had not made a single error leading to a goal. He has conceded 49 goals compared with 42 and has kept eight clean sheets compared with seven. He has too often performed like a goalkeeper wired into an electric current, spreading panic in an Everton defence that does not need much encouragement, although the feeling may well be mutual.’

Clearly, then, Pickford has been below par. Of course, you can point towards the atmosphere against Newcastle as a factor in his poor game, but McNulty clearly recognises that this goes beyond just one game.

The information regarding his errors is rather telling. Whilst goalkeepers have become more flamboyant in the modern game, their root requirement is to be consistent between the sticks. Make no mistake, if Man City’s Ederson started letting goals in every few weeks – regardless of his fantastic range of passing – he’d likely be dropped by Pep Guardiola in a flash. There’s just nowhere for a goalkeeper to hide.

Of course, Pickford is under particular pressure given his England role, but that’s simply the life of a top goalkeeper. If he wants to be England’s number one, he’s got to expect people to be watching him – mistakes and all.

He’s somewhat fortunate at Everton, given that second-choice goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg isn’t really up to par anymore, and so dropping him long-term doesn’t make much sense for the Toffees. But it’s a different story for England, and if he doesn’t improve for his club, further questions will be asked.

McNulty ends his piece by saying: ‘Every shrewd judge who knows Pickford says he does not dwell on mistakes but learns from them. Silva and Southgate will hope he has.’ 

It’s time for that sentiment to ring true, or the consequences could be dire.

Everton fans – what do you make of Pickford? Is he at risk of losing his place for his country? What about at Everton? Let us know below!

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Phil McNulty: Jordan Pickford’s got a lot of work to do
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