Stats: 2021/22 Everton Goalkeepers
Under both Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti, the Everton goalkeeper plays a key role in playing the ball out the back. And while the former was okay with choosing the long ball route at times, the veteran manager preached ball possession and management like a mantra.
Of course it led to a number of heart-stopping moments for fans and players alike as the Blues got caught in possession trying to pass it out of their own area, and resulted more often than not in a premium scoring opportunity for the opposition.
Pickford might well be the best goalie Rafa Benitez has had in many years, and with just the Manchester United preseason friendly when he played for the first half, we’re yet to see how exactly the new manager will utilize the England #1.
Both Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray have the ability to get free on the wings, so you can imagine Pickford will try to ping them on the break with a sidewinder or two. The third of the summer signings — Asmir Begovic — proved he is more than competent enough to take the spot vacated by Robin Olsen to push Pickford if needed.
The 27-year-old had a rocky start to the season that quickly got worse following his collision with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk in the Merseyside Derby. Subjected to a barrage of abuse and media harassment despite stadiums being closed doors, his form and confidence took a dip. It was later revealed that he had to hire private security for his immediate family following personal threats made to them.
Things were not looking good for the player going into the winter transfer window despite words of support from Ancelotti, and the Blues went ahead and brought in Olsen on loan from AS Roma. The calming influence of the Sweden international in training as well as the veteran stepping in to play some games and give Pickford a break worked perfectly for the Blues, as the England shotstopper went on to have one of his best spells at the club to end out the season and carried that form into the Three Lions march to the European Championships Final in the summer.
Pickford got off to a bit of a false start this preseason, making two egregious handling errors in about a dozen minutes with one of those ending up in his own net at Old Trafford, but it’s best for him to get those jitters out before the games start to matter.
The former Chelsea goalie spent last season at AFC Bournemouth in the Championship playing 4,590 minutes in 51 games, conceding 51 times and keeping 15 clean sheets in the Cherries ultimately failed bid to return to the top tier.
The 34-year-old has shown that he still has what it takes to play in goal should he be required to start some Premier League games and in the Cup as well, and should be a good influence on Pickford as well.
The youngster didn’t end up going out on loan and was part of the Everton squad throughout, breaking away to play six times for the Under-23s. He did however get some first team gametime, keeping a clean sheet in the one half he played against Burnley in the league after Pickford went off injured and gamely kept out Manchester City in the FA Cup quarterfinals for as long as he could. Still only 21, he is best served with a loan to the Championship, but there appears to be no indication that there is any interest in him.
State of the Position
Pickford has mostly silenced his doubters following his performances over the last few months. However it will only take a mistake or two to bring that clamour to a crescendo again, but this year like in past years, Everton have bigger problems elsewhere on the pitch to be spending too much time worrying about the goalkeeper.
For a team like Everton to break into the top six and stay there, they will need to have a solid first eleven, with at least more than half of the backups behind them of an equal quality. Right now Pickford stays the starter on his own merit as well as by virtue of the fact that the Toffees have no money to spend. Begovic should keep him on his toes and ensure that he is at his competitive best.
The future does look bright with Harry Tyrer having a strong campaign for the Under-23s and showing that he might be ready to be the third keeper in matchday squads especially if Virginia does end up leaving on loan.