Jordan Pickford has been talking about his relationship with Carlo Ancelotti and how he respects his decision to occasionally bench the Everton and England number one.
Pickford’s form for Everton has been very inconsistent for a long time now and some of his performances have been erratic and even damaging to the team over the past few seasons.
While his shot-stopping is still generally very good, too often he was making rash and even slightly bizarre decisions that were proving costly.
There was plenty of evidence to raise questions about whether the England goalkeeper was even in decline and if he had a long-term future at the Blues, given how frustrating and at times infuriating his efforts have been.
And unsurprisingly in the summer transfer window there were plenty of rumours about possible new signings, including a new goalkeeper.
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On transfer deadline day it looked as though the Toffees were about to sign the Manchester United keeper Sergio Romero, no longer able to claim a regular place in their team.
The deal seemed very close but then United pulled the plug despite the fact Everton seemed ready to pay a fee for the Argentinian.
So with only a few hours to go the club secured a loan deal for Roma’s Robin Olsen instead. The Swedish international was seen as very much a back-up at first, although he was providing new competition to Pickford.
Despite this there were still some moments of madness on display from Pickford, in particular in the Merseyside derby when he was lucky not to get sent off only a few minutes into the game after his clash with Virgil Van Djik.
However, Pickford still seemed very much Ancelotti’s first-choice. But after sitting on the bench for a few matches the manager decided to give Olsen a game away against Newcastle United as the Blues were struggling for form following that derby draw.
The Toffees were beaten 2-1 at St James Park, but Olsen was very solid and did nothing wrong. His performance was an indication that perhaps he could push Pickford much harder for the Everton keeper’s jersey.
Olsen has played again since and this has it seems forced Pickford to raise his game and his own performances have been stronger and more consistent in recent months.
He has also managed to largely eradicate, at least for now, the sort of mental lapses of concentration that have often plagued him in the recent past.
There are also rumours that Everton want to make Olsen’s stay at Goodison Park permanent and that further underscores the importance of Pickford maintaining his current solid form.
The England stopper has revealed that he has always had a strong and open relationship with Ancelotti. Pickford’s improved attitude and consistency indicates this and is another example of the excellent man-management skills being deployed by the Italian manager at Everton, for which he is so well renowned.
This sort of pressure and competition will keep Pickford on his toes and obviously will only benefit the Blues going forward as they strive to secure European football and silverware.