Jordan Pickford’s performances over the past 18 months have suffered such an alarming dip that he should no longer be considered for England duty. Here’s why….
In the latest article of our new series, TEAMtalk writers make their feelings clear on an issue in the game that is bugging them.
Previous articles saw our writers argue why:
Now it’s the turn of Liam Ryder, as he argues why, Gareth Southgate should think twice before selecting Jordan Pickford for the Three Lions again….
Pickford has shown that he is a more than capable goalkeeper, and on his day is arguably one of the best shot-stoppers in the world.
Pickford joined Everton in 2017 following Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League and this move received a lot of hype after he was a standout performer in an otherwise dismal campaign for the Black Cats.
But since moving to Goodison Park, Pickford has been named and shamed as the man behind several avoidable goals conceded that have also lost the Toffees crucial points in the top flight.
Here, I set out MY five reasons why Gareth Southgate needs to act and make a change to his strongest England side in order to have someone more reliable between the goalposts.
1) There are more reliable options than Pickford out there
The Premier League may not exactly be loaded with home-grown goalkeepers, however some of those on show have proven that they are ready to feature regularly in the the top flight of English football.
As previously mentioned, Pickford hasn’t covered himself in glory in the 2019/20 season AND the 2018/19 campaign with his costly errors that had affected the side as well. Last season, Pickford made the most errors leading to goals in the entirety of the Premier League which doesn’t make good reading if you’re going to be England’s number one.
Looking at the current state of play in the Premier League there are at least two goalkeepers who should be considered as England’s number one ahead of the Everton shot-stopper.
A tricky one to judge is Sheffield United loanee, Dean Henderson. He has been an ever-present in the Premier League for the Yorkshire club this season, barring the matches against his parent club. Were he to return to Manchester United once the season is over there is no guarantee that he would be receiving the game time needed to represent his national team as their first-choice goalkeeper.
In his debut campaign in the top flight, there is only one real error of note against Henderson’s name and that came in a narrow 1-0 defeat to Liverpool. Interestingly, only three goalkeepers have made less saves than Henderson which is maybe credit to Chris Wilder’s defence.
Another option that should be considered by Southgate is Burnley keeper, Nick Pope. Despite Burnley not having the best defensive record with 40 goals conceded so far this season, Pope has been a standout performer and made a number of crucial saves as has been the case regularly over recent seasons since Pope was promoted to the number one at Turf Moor. Pope has been a busier keeper than Henderson with 89 saves made so far this season.
2) Getting wound up in matches doesn’t help the team
It seems that Jordan Pickford has sometimes got too involved in the moment, particularly in games against his old enemies Newcastle United. In two of the last three meetings the Everton shot-stopper has made errors against the Magpies with some Toffees fans blaming him for their collapse in the second half at St James’ Park in the 2018/19 season as they blew a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2. He also went somewhat AWOL this season as another comeback cost his side points against the side from the North East in a 2-2 draw in January.
So far Pickford has shown his best form on the international stage but were he to ever lose his head for the national team there would be scrutiny from all parts of the country. The pressure of playing for your country is huge and someone with an attitude like Pickford may not always be suited to this.
Admittedly he has shown that he is capable of performing on the world stage with his impressive performances at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but he would have to show that he can consistently remain focused to be one of the best.
3) Excuses, excuses, excuses
Jordan Pickford has been known to make excuses when he has conceded goals that are considered ones that he should be doing better with. For example in February he appeared to simply let a Christian Benteke strike go through his body as Crystal Palace equalised in their Premier League encounter at Goodison Park.
After the game, Pickford claimed that his studs got stuck in the ground as he tried to make the save and described the ball movement as “disgusting”. Thankfully for Everton this goal didn’t prove to be costly in this particular match as they went on to win 3-1 but does Pickford really think that excuses will be acceptable on the biggest stage with the entire nation judging him?
He also likes to take his anger out on his defenders even when it is the goalkeeper’s responsibility to deal with the danger. Surely Pickford needs to learn about taking some more responsibility.
4) Going over the top in key moments
The passing and awareness from Pickford is something else pic.twitter.com/VHlKoEKUQh
— ＭΛＸ (@Maximum_Nufc) March 10, 2019
(WARNING: Above footage contains language that may offend)
Since Gareth Southgate took over as England manager, he has created an emphasis on playing out from the back with ball-playing centre-halves and this was a huge part of the Three Lions’ success at the last World Cup. He also wanted his goalkeeper to do the same and Jordan Pickford was the man to do that, putting him in an elite and rare category amongst the England ranks as the only shot-stopper who looks to be capable of using his feet.
However, this has also cursed Pickford in the past with a few lucky escapes playing for his national team. One key example came in England’s impressive 3-2 victory over Spain in 2018 as he almost gifted the home side a goal as he took a heavy touch which gifted possession to Spain striker, Rodrigo. Fortunately Pickford managed to recover and get the ball back so he deserves credit for that but you can’t help but feel that he could be severely punished for daft moments like this in the future.
5) Defenders want somebody to trust
"Look at Jurgen Klopp!" 🏃♂
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) April 18, 2020
It appears that England’s weaknesses come in the defensive areas of the pitch and Pickford has come to the rescue on numerous occasions but with some doubts in mind about how reliable he is, some supporters may feel worried about having Pickford in goal. Work does need to be done by Southgate on the defensive side of matters but the least they can hope for is a goalkeeper who can help ease the pressure on them as it’s always good to know that you’ve got a safe pair of hands behind you.
When you read into the statistics about errors made by Jordan Pickford in the Premier League, it hardly fills people with confidence so perhaps the way to solve this is by introducing someone new between the goalposts.
By Liam Ryder