One of the most impressive players in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Tottenham wasn’t an outfield player but goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Could the much maligned stopper still have a long-term future at Everton?
I’ve been a strong critic of Pickford’s recently and I’m not alone in feeling that he really didn’t seem to be the answer for Everton, certainly not after many recent performances.
However, he was excellent in Sunday’s win. Not just by producing two brilliant, instinctive saves, which has always been his forte, but also commanding his area, looking decisive and most crucially, not making unforced errors.
It was almost like stepping into a time machine and going back about two years or so to the summer of 2018, when Pickford was the goalkeeping toast of English football and considered the best young keeper in the country.
When Everton signed the Sunderland number one, three years ago, it was regarded as a really good move that showed how determined the Toffees were to become a top side.
Of course that didn’t exactly happen and obviously that wasn’t Pickford’s fault entirely as he was playing behind some pretty poor defences and outfields generally!
However as players and managers have come and gone over the past few seasons, one constant was Pickford in goal. Despite this, his form began to decline, at first imperceptibly, after the 2018 World Cup and basically has gone on declining since.
In the past two seasons Pickford has become a real liability at times for the Blues. Particularly last season, his form was very erratic and a succession of unforced errors cost Everton dear.
In particular there was not just poor decision-making on Pickford’s part, but a bizarrely nonchalant attitude at times from the player when he was making these mistakes. That was the part that was really aggravating to many Blues fans who were witnessing his behaviour.
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As the summer transfer window loomed, there was much discussion about whether Carlo Ancelotti was happy with him and if the Toffees would go into the market for a new goalkeeper.
A number of individuals have been linked with moves for several other goalkeepers although so far nothing has come of these various rumours.
But on Sunday, the England number one produced perhaps his best all-round display for several seasons, since he was riding high in 2018.
He was strong and decisive and pulled off two fine stops in a performance that had many observers thinking of him for man-of-the-match.
As with the form of so many other players who had such a good day, it’s still just one game so not much to make a definitive judgement on.
But if he can carry on producing efforts of that calibre, then perhaps Everton won’t after all need to bring in another keeper before the window closes next month.