Pickford and Olsen: Ancelotti’s Goalkeeping Conundrum

After breaking through at Sunderland, Jordan Pickford looked as if he was going to become English football’s next top goalkeeper. At the Stadium of Light, the 26-year-old had every attribute that manager’s looked for in modern-day shot-stoppers. Not only was he more than competent in denying opposition strikers from various distances, but his confidence and distribution played a pivotal role in him cementing his place as England’s number-one goalkeeper. So, what’s gone wrong for Pickford at Everton? 

Right to Show Faith in Error-Ridden Pickford? 

The six-foot-one Englishman may have enhanced his reputation playing for a defence-minded Sunderland. While his time with the Black Cats proved that he’s a Premier League-quality goalkeeper, the volume of shots that he faced often saw him frequently called into action. At Everton, however, ambitions are loftier than avoiding the drop. With Carlo Ancelotti now at the helm, the focus is on breaking into Europe and disrupting the top-flight’s traditional top six.  

Prior to the Italian’s arrival, Pickford struggled to endear himself to the Toffees faithful, making numerous costly errors, including in the Merseyside derby back in December 2018. However, the vastness of the 26-year-old’s mistakes stretch far beyond that Anfield blunder. According to a report by the Daily Mail from October 4th, 2020, Pickford had recorded the most errors leading to goals of any shot-stopper since his arrival at Goodison Park in 2017.  

The Englishman’s inconsistencies unquestionably give the three-time Champions League-winning manager something to ponder. Thus far, Ancelotti has kept faith in the Washington-born goalkeeper. However, he has called for Pickford to rely on his instincts, putting some of his errors down to overthinking.   

The Need for High-Level Competition 

Following a string of underwhelming top-flight performances, it was no surprise to see the Toffees recruit another shot-stopper in the 2020 summer transfer window. In July 2018, Roma bought the Swedish goalkeeper to replace Alisson – who joined Liverpool – but he later fell out of favour after the arrival of Pau Lopez at the Stadio Olimpico. The 30-year-old arrived at Goodison as a back-up option to Pickford but soon found himself stepping in for the England number one in Everton’s 2-1 away defeat to Newcastle United. 

While it remains to be seen if Olsen can provide the level of competition that Ancelotti desires, it’s clear that Pickford also lacks viable alternatives internationally. According to Gareth Southgate, “nobody” is close to replacing the 26-year-old in the England setup. On the whole, this unrivalled position won’t be doing Pickford’s form any favours. That said, he’ll need to regain some consistency if he wishes to make the national team squad for the upcoming EURO 2020 competition, which England are currently 5/1 to win in the football betting, as of November 10th.  

Pickford Must Now Deliver  

Make no mistake about it, the former Sunderland player is a top-level goalkeeper. However, he’s currently enduring a crisis of confidence. While it’s uncertain as to what the short-term future holds for the 26-year-old, Ancelotti looks as if he’ll keep faith with him, at least until January, when he may opt to browse the market.

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NSNO Staff

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