Can Olsen take over as Everton keeper

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - SEPTEMBER 08: Robin Olsen of Sweden during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Sweden and Portugal at Friends Arena on September 8, 2020 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by David Lidstrom/Getty Images)
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - SEPTEMBER 08: Robin Olsen of Sweden during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Sweden and Portugal at Friends Arena on September 8, 2020 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by David Lidstrom/Getty Images) /

After saying he was comfortable with his goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Carlo Ancelotti did bring in another keeper before the transfer window shut, Robin Olsen. Can the Swedish shot-stopper take over as Everton number one?

After a blistering start to the Premier League campaign, the one area of most concern for Everton supporters, is the continuing erraticism and fallibility of Pickford in the Toffees goal.

This was underlined again in the Blues last league game, as they beat Brighton at Goodison Park before the international break.

That latest howler and the direct consequences of it, which led to a first-half equaliser the visitors play certainly didn’t merit, was for many Evertonians perhaps the final straw.

As the match report indicates, since he joined Everton, Pickford has made more mistakes leading to goals than any other Premier League goalkeeper. That’s a sobbering statistic.

For some reason since 2018, his form keeps getting more and more unpredictable and now you almost expect a serious gaff from him every time he takes to the pitch.

It’s an old adage but a true one I think, that you can’t win the big prizes with a mediocre keeper between the posts.

If you look at almost all the successful teams in football, they have at the very least, a goalkeeper who is consistent, reliable and who inspires confidence in his defenders.

Even Leicester City’s astonishing, gravity-defying title-winning campaign in 2015-16, featured a genuinely top-class keeper in Kasper Schmeichel.

While I’m not saying that the Blues are about to repeat that feat, Everton are in great form, with terrific confidence and self-belief and sit at the top of the league.

If they are to stay there, or as is more likely, at least stay in contention for Europe and maybe a Champions League place, then they must have a reliable goalkeeper. At the moment, Pickford simply isn’t that.

So after his latest mishap and despite his public support for the England international, Ancelotti has decided to bring in another stopper.

The 30-year-old wasn’t his first choice, that was either Manchester United’s Sergio Romero or possibly the Spurs keeper Paulo Gazzaniga.

However, those clubs recognising the transformation in the Toffees prospects, weren’t prepared to let their players come to Goodison Park, even when one of those player’s wive’s was demanding it on social media!

On paper it looks as though Olsen has been brought in just to provide a strong back-up to Pickford and at the very least challenge him to produce his best form and iron out his inconsistencies.

One of the problems that Pickford might have is the lack of pressure on him. He knows the Blues don’t have a real alternative and so perhaps he is prone to complacency and that affects his ability to concentrate.

But looking at Olsen and at Pickford’s current form, I think the newcomer could and maybe should, be considered for the starting spot.

Olsen it’s true, has had a difficult time in Italy since his move to Roma in 2018 and has been loaned out recently to Cagliari. Before then though he had been a rising star, having played superbly well for FC Copenhagen and then for Sweden in the 2018 World Cup.

Ironically, he and his country were eventually knocked out in the quarter-final by an England team featuring his new team mate Pickford, who was also having an excellent tournament in goal.

The Swede is a fine shot-stopper and has good reactions and reflexes, similar to Pickford. He isn’t quite as good with the ball at his feet, although this supposed strength of the England man hasn’t been seen with much consistency either recently.

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Olsen is a bit taller than Pickford, which does mean he is more likely to get to shots high up in the corner of the goal, where Pickford often gets beaten.

This extra height should also help him be a bit more decisive and dominant coming for high balls too. This is another area of real weakness in Pickford’s game. I think that given the situation, I would be tempted to drop Pickford and give Olsen a chance with his new team, straight away.

That might seem a little risky to throw him straight in. But given that Everton face Liverpool in a massive derby when the Premier League returns and that this fixture might have been the moment the rot set in with Pickford, it could be the best shout.

The Roma man probably isn’t going to represent a long-term alternative, unless he plays out of his skin this season but his arrival does perhaps indicate that Ancelotti isn’t totally confident in Pickford.

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Olsen might just be enough to give the Toffees a genuinely viable option to replace Pickford if he cannot eliminate those errors that have and are, costing Everton so dear. And that could be the difference between the Blues winning something or not this season.