It’s been a tumultuous period for Everton ever since an unfortunate error from Jordan Pickford in the dying seconds of the game at Anfield led to an undeserved derby loss.
The goalkeeper’s confidence seemed shot in the games after that, the Blues looked lethargic and lost and a promising start to the season was scuttled away as the team continued to look traumatized after the incident.
Speaking ahead of the FA Cup Fourth Round tie at Millwall, manager Marco Silva talked about the pressure Pickford was facing, and insisted that he was not tired from his World Cup exploits over the summer.
“It’s normal. Now everyone looks to him in a different way. Last season everyone looked at Everton in general, at the big picture.
“Then Jordan did fantastic things at the end of last season and the World Cup. Normally in a goalkeeper when something happens the highlights is on him. We have all the confidence in him.
“This is normal pressure for being our goalkeeper and being the number one of the national team.”
When pressed if he thought Pickford was below his normal level and if fatigue was playing a part, Silva went on -
“He had enough of a break [in the summer]. It is not because of that. All the national team players got that break. Not an excuse for anything.
“I don’t want to put all the conversation on him. He is working really hard. He is doing all the important things that are important to us as a technical staff. He is trying to get better every day. That is what I want from him.
“I can tell you that he is doing that everyday. He’s a fantastic professional, comes here everyday to work hard. I can tell you what he wants is what we want also, we want more consistency in his performance.”
Silva even cracked a smile when asked if he would rest Pickford this weekend.
“You’ll have to wait to see. What I can tell you is that we’ll put out the best team that we think can win the match.”
There were some questions around Ademola Lookman as well, especially around his starting role now over Theo Walcott. Silva felt that the transfer interest in the young winger from RB Leipzig as well as some niggling injuries led to a slow start to the season.
“He is playing because he is deserving, like all the others. It wasn’t the best pre-season to him. The reasons you know why. We have a good challenge with him.
“Step-by-step we convinced him about his quality. I think he was never in doubt about that but the challenge he has at this club.
“He is a talent in my opinion with a lot of quality. He is working hard. He waited for his moment. The moment came to him with some small issues during the Third Round but now he is in good conditions, playing well and helping the team.
“He has all the conditions to improve to see even better performances from him.”
Silva was also asked what he thought Lookman’s ceiling would be.
“He has many, many more things to give us, no doubt about that. He is a really young player playing maybe his first run in the Premier League.
“He has everything there. Some things he has to change. He knows what I want and what I am demanding of him because I believe he can really improve and have a really fantastic career.”
When asked what those changes were, Silva was direct.
“More goals is one of the things. It is one of the things he can improve. He has to arrive strong in the box, improve the last pass, the last assist.
“Today in football when you play in the attacking line you have to score more goals, you have to arrive strong in the box.
“Of course he scored five goals last season in the Bundesliga and shows he has that quality. He has already scored this season, he will score, it’s something we are working on with him.
“It is important. It’s something he is improving in his reaction when he wins the ball and when he loses the ball.”
It’s good to hear Silva speaking up as passionately as he did today about two younger players in the squad that have endured some tougher moments this season, and there is hope they will turn the corner and lead the club to greater things.