After Frank Lampard’s more open, play-it-out-from the back approach resulted in a worryingly porous defence, Sean Dyche’s more pragmatic style tightened things up for Everton and he is almost certain to maintain that approach in the new campaign.
That is likely to mean Jordan Pickford will not be playing too many short passes inside his own area and will instead look to launch counter attacks as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, Pickford’s distribution skills are adept at such an approach. His average pass length of 43 yards, excluding goal kicks, was the longest in the division last season, as was his average goal kick length of 52.7 yards. No goalkeeper hit a greater percentage of goal kicks longer than 40 yards than Pickford, while only Brentford’s (and now Arsenal’s) David Raya attempted - and completed - more long passes.
Stability is not a word you would use to describe Everton over the seven years, apart from in goal.
Jordan Pickford has been the undisputed Toffees No.1 since joining the club in the summer of 2017, with only one player across the league making more than his 217 Premier League appearances in that time.
His importance to the team cannot be overstated, particularly over the last two relegation-threatened seasons, and contrary to the myth that he performs better for England than he does for his club.
Some of his moments of brilliance have been the difference between Everton staying up and going down - think back to that save to deny Cesar Azpilicueta in May 2022 or his string of stops in that vital win at Brighton & Hove Albion last April.
He made 124 saves last season, the third-highest in the division and an Everton record, while his eight stops in the goalless draw against Liverpool at Goodison set new record for the highest number of saves in a single Premier League game without conceding.
It is little surprise therefore that the 29-year-old has been voted player of the year by the fans three times in his six seasons at the club, including the last two years.
Thankfully he is likely to continue to be Everton’s No. 1 for a while yet, with a shiny new contract signed in February keeping him at the club until 2027. No serious offers materialized this summer for Everton to have to fend off either.
This looks set to be a make-or-break season for Joao Virginia as at time of writing he is set to step up to be Pickford’s understudy.
The 23-year-old has made just three senior appearances for the Toffees since joining from Arsenal in the summer of 2019, though he has not been helped by Pickford’s excellent fitness record that has seen him miss just 11 of 228 Premier League games since 2017.
The former Portugal youth international has also been sent out on loan to Reading, SC Cambuur and Sporting, with mixed results.
With his contract expiring next summer Virginia will have to make an impact this campaign if he is to extend his Toffees career. Though with three weeks of the window still to go do not rule out a senior goalkeeper coming in and another loan move being agreed.
At the age of 39 Andy Lonergan is very much Everton’s third choice goalkeeper, though he is believed to be very highly regarded by both staff and players at Finch Farm where I expect he is operating in a semi-coaching role.
That said in the event of Pickford and Virginia picking up lengthy injuries I would expect the Toffees to seek emergency cover than rely on the veteran stopper.
State of the Position
Everton were dealt a blow when Asmir Begovic turned down a new contract as he was one of the more reliable number twos in the division.
With funds already tight bringing in a new back-up goalkeeper was a headache Sean Dyche did not really need. At time of writing it looks like the Toffees boss will not divert his already limited funds towards a goalkeeper and will put his trust in Virginia, Lonergan and Pickford’s fitness record.
Elsewhere 21-year-old Harry Tyrer has joined National League side Chesterfield on a season-long loan. At 23, Billy Crellin can also probably expect a senior loan before the deadline. 20-year-old Zan Luk Leban is also off on loan to Farsley Celtic in the National League North.