In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, former goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has delivered his verdict on Everton shot-stopper Jordan Pickford as his troubles on the pitch continue to mount.
The 26-year-old was in the limelight yet again on Saturday afternoon as the Toffees were well-beaten by Manchester United at Goodison Park.
Pickford clattered into another centre-back, this time England teammate Harry Maguire, though after VAR checks, no penalty was awarded.
A couple of weeks ago, the £36m-rated goalkeeper wiped out Liverpool rival Virgil van Dijk inside the box with a woefully mistimed challenge and the Dutch colossus has since been ruled out long-term with an ACL injury.
Last month, Pickford became the player to make the most mistakes leading to a goal since the 2017/18 season, so it certainly hasn’t gone well for him thus far.
Kirkland believes things have changed a lot since his loan spell at Preston North End, he told FFC:
“I worked with Jordan for years. I worked with Jordan for a year at Preston, you know. Simon Grayson rang me and was like ‘look, Jordan’s going to play he’s an exceptional talent,’ come and help him, come and work with him and give him that experience, pass it on. He was one of the best I’ve ever worked with, without a shadow of a doubt.
“He was incredible for Preston but what I see now that I didn’t see then is the shouting and balling, is the getting involved with the crowd. He never used to do that, now I know Preston didn’t have the crowds that Everton have got, but he went about his business quietly.
“He come and took everything – his shot-saving was incredible. His kicking is amazing anyway but the difference is, is he’s getting too engaged with things. He’s looking for things, like, he should have never come out for the [Virgil] van Dijk one but it’s almost as if ‘I need to do something, I need to show what I can do. I need to get involved with a game’ when I shouldn’t be. I never saw that at Preston.”
Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti dropped Pickford for their defeat at Newcastle United last week, but re-introduced him for their game against the Red Devils on Saturday.
In 138 appearances for the Merseyside club, the Three Lions no.1 has leaked 196 goals and only kept 38 clean sheets, per Transfermakt.
Speaking about his form so far this season, Kirkland added:
“I’ve said it many times in interviews because I’ve worked with him, you know he’s one of the best I’ve worked with but he has gone backwards. I don’t think what he’s doing on the pitch is helping, he’s just got to calm down and forget about all that, don’t hark at your defenders like we’ve seen him doing because the defenders will just end up going ‘do one,’ you know, nobody wants to be shouted at. Do it in the right way, say ‘yeah come on, you’re better than that, get the tackle in next time, win that next header, don’t let him beat you’ and that’s fine. That’s encouragement and constructive criticism.”
With the loan signing of Robin Olsen from AS Roma this summer window, Ancelotti’s patience may already be wearing thin, especially as the Swede has already been brought into the starting XI once this season.
Pickford needs to quickly find a solution or his place amongst Gareth Southgate’s squad for the summer’s European Championships could be in grave danger.