Former Everton goalkeeper Nigel Martyn has said he believes current Blues stopper Jordan Pickford can become one of the best in the world in his position.
Martyn, who spent the final three years of his career at Goodison Park and was instrumental in the club qualifying for the Champions League in 2004-05, believes Pickford, 25, is still far from peaking as a keeper.
Speaking exclusively to 888sport, Martyn said:
“He [Pickford] can be one of the world’s best keepers and the way you do that is through pure consistency and limiting your mistakes to probably two or three a season. You pull off the great saves but you also make the saves you’re expected to make. That makes you a great keeper and there is no reason why Jordan can’t become that.
“He may not think this but he will be a lot better goalkeeper in five or six years’ time than he is now because he will develop so much. As he gets older the game will become easier for him.”
Pickford made a few high-profile errors last season, such as in the away defeats to Liverpool and Newcastle United, and has, been accused of perhaps being too enthusiastic or too keen to impress at time.
But he has not conceded a goal this season, and has kept ten clean sheets in his last 13 Premier League games - more than any other goalkeeper in that time.
Martyn added that it is natural for younger shot-stoppers like Pickford to make such mistakes and the experience gained from them will only make him a better goalkeeper in the long-run:
“Making mistakes happens. It’s part of being a goalkeeper. It’s how you deal with them. As a general rule young goalkeepers make more mistakes and as you progress you make less of them because you develop as a person.
“When you’re young you’re keen to show everybody what you can do but as you get older and mature you’re happier when the ball is not around you but you’re comfortable when it is. You can only deal with each situation as it comes along and obviously the more situations you deal with the fewer mistakes you make.
“Jordan is very keen to help out the back four; to come for his crosses and make his saves and really be part of the team.”
Having ended last season strongly, finishing eighth, Everton have enjoyed a decent start to this campaign, taking four points from the first six on offer and have yet to be breached in defence.
But while Martyn believes the Blues should be rightly be targeting a top six finish this term, he added it is still too early to gauge how well they will work as a team, or how likely it is that they can overtake potentially vulnerable clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal:
“Top six is the plan. Whether it will happen or not I don’t know. There are clubs that are in transition. Chelsea are not able to go out and buy players. They’ve got Frank [Lampard] in who I think could become a great manager but I just think their season will be quite difficult. Arsenal aren’t really at the level they used to be at.
“So, there are clubs to aim for. but time will tell. Everton could buy all of the players in the world, but what matters is how they gel as a team and we’re going to have to wait ten or 12 league games before we really see them bed in. That’s when we’ll know.
“Everton have had a good start to the season but it hasn’t been flowing by any stretch of the imagination so it’s going to take a little while. If they’ve picking up points in the meantime that’s a good thing.”
Martyn was also asked what he thought of a possible front three of Richarlison and new signings Alex Iwobi and Moise Kean, which he said could be a success if planned properly.
But he also stressed the importance of manager Marco Silva receiving a sufficient defensive contribution for his forwards, too, and predicted that the Blues boss will see this happen gradually, rather than force it to happen from the earliest possible opportunity:
“For those three to start together you might have to pick a right game and instruct the players of their defensive duties. That’s an exciting front three but it involves them being part of a system where going forward you’re a threat but you don’t leave the door open. If you do that in the Premier League teams can break on you so quickly, so it has to be done in a controlled way.
“It would be great to see them creating chances and scoring goals but it might also leave them vulnerable so I can see the manager letting this happen slowly. That’s the best way of doing it rather than throwing them in together and seeing what happens.
“With the latter you could be at home against someone you’re expected to beat and suddenly you’re 2-0 down. You bring one of them off and you’re admitting that you’ve got it wrong.
“You have to be careful because a lot of Everton’s success has been built on defensively being strong and while it would be great and exciting to see them do wonderful things in the final third it’s very hard to do that consistently in the Premier League.”
Despite being a part of the Leeds United team that reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001, Martyn lost his place as first-choice goalkeeper to Paul Robinson and played no games for the club in 2002-03, moving to Everton the following summer.
Though his first season was arduous, as the Blues avoided relegation by one place, Everton went on to finish fourth the following year, before injury forced him to retire at the end of his third season, 2005-06.
But it proved a hugely successful final chapter for Martyn, who is still a fan favourite among Evertonians and is regarded by then-manager David Moyes and his best signing for the club. He added:
“I loved it at Everton. Obviously what happened at Leeds wasn’t very nice. I sat on the bench for a long season and at that stage of my career it was a bit of a waste, I felt. So when I was offered the opportunity by David [Moyes] to go there, I was always going to take it with both hands.
“The supporters seemed to take to me pretty well and quickly; in fact all clubs’ supporters have wherever I’ve played because they respond to players who try very hard and do all they can to help their team win.
“It was tough at the start because we were one of the favourites to go down and we stayed up by the skin of our teeth. It was nice – but also not nice – for me to play a big part in us staying up.
“Then beyond that we went from being fourth bottom to finishing fourth and that was down to David’s organisation of a team. We weren’t the fourth best team in that league by any stretch of the imagination but we were one of the very best prepared teams.
“We worked a lot defensively on set pieces and playing for and against. Offensively we did a lot too but what we didn’t want to do was get pulled apart by teams. That was really our strength: defensively we were very strong and solid in midfield.
“I had a really good time there, first in a relegation fight then getting into the Champions League.”