First up in our review of the past Everton season, in which each area of the pitch will be recapped and rated, is goalkeeper. Jordan Pickford featured between the sticks in every game for the Blues in 2019-20.
The ghosts of derbies and Newcastle games past continue to haunt Jordan Pickford. Just two years ago, of course, his stock could hardly be higher - a rare positive in an otherwise dreadful season for Everton in 2017-18, followed by an impressive showing with England on their way to the World Cup semi-finals. How things change.
Pickford has not really been the same goalkeeper ever since he gift-wrapped Divock Origi a 96th-minute derby winner right in front of the Kop in December 2018. Or when the boyhood Sunderland fan celebrated a 2-0 lead at Newcastle a little too hastily in a game Everton lost 3-2 the following March.
Clashes with Liverpool and Newcastle were again two of Pickford’s low points this campaign, although there are a fair few more to choose from this time around. Put simply, he has regressed markedly in the last 12 to 18 months.
- Pickford kept nine Premier League clean sheets in 2019-20’s 38 matches, a drop from last season’s career high of 14 from the same number of games.
- Pickford made four errors leading to goals this season - only Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka (five) was responsible for more in the Premier League.
- Just two Premier League goalkeepers (Norwich’s Tim Krul and Brighton’s Mat Ryan) made more than Pickford’s 1,184 passes this season.
- Only Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga saved a smaller percentage of shots faced by Premier League goalkeepers than Pickford this term. See below:
Sometimes the stats can lie. But idk who can turn this into a positive for Kepa ...@thehalfspaces— Sousuke Sagara stan acc (@pakistansagara) July 27, 2020
Also to note: Pickford is crap, and despite his errors, Lloris is still class. pic.twitter.com/du0GvsRr73
With Dean Henderson and Nick Pope both easily outperforming Pickford this season in goal for Sheffield United and Burnley respectively, Gareth Southgate may soon find himself changing his number one.
If Carlo Ancelotti is to stick by him, though, he could probably do with stronger competition than Maarten Stekelenburg, who has now left, Joao Virginia, who does not look ready, and Jonas Lossl, who is not good enough.
None of this trio played a single minute of competitive football for Everton this term despite Pickford’s toils, while Pickford has never missed a minute of Premier League action since signing in June 2017. That rather tells its own story.
Apologies to those who also read my ‘Who could leave Everton this summer?’ and ‘Which areas should Everton prioritise in this summer transfer window?’ pieces and feel like I’m beating a dead horse by now, but I personally would sell Pickford this summer.
Everton could probably still recoup at least a decent portion of the reported £30 million they spent on him three years ago while has stock has not totally nosedived yet, and the simple fact is that I don’t see enough in Pickford to suggest he is good enough to help Everton get to where they want to get under Ancelotti.
He is a decent Premier League keeper with good reactions, but little more.
It would be remiss to suggest Pickford’s season has been a total car crash; there have been plenty of games which he arguably won Everton points in with crucial saves.
But as the season wore on, it felt like every game in which we saw Pickford’s best, we also saw his worst - like the Crystal Palace win in February when he made a wonderful point-blank stop just after letting Christian Benteke’s shot trickle under him, or in the Bournemouth defeat last week, when he denied Callum Wilson one-on-one only to allow Junior Stanislas’ shot to go through his legs.
He is not consistent enough, nor does there appear to be the drive in him to iron out his increasingly frequent mistakes. Everton should either sign a goalkeeper who would put serious pressure on his place or just wash their hands of him and get rid.