There have been quite a few articles and comments which have been questionning Pickford's ability in recent weeks, which is surprising as he came home from the World Cup as a bit of a golden boy.
To be honest, Pickford seems the least of our problems when you consider the central defence, the midfield spine of Gueye & Schneiderlin, the very disappointing Sigurdsson and the lacklustre displays of our strikers.
Anyhow, by modern standards, Pickford is a very small keeper; the days of international keepers like Alan Hodgkinson at 5'-8" are long gone and I know that he is around the same height as the greatest of England keepers, Gordon Banks. Nowadays the best keepers are around 6'-6" tall: Cech, Courtois, etc. Yet Pickford looked as good as anyone in the World Cup.
He is an excellent shot-stopper, as was Tim Howard who also had an excellent World Cup in 2014. In International football, keepers are better protected at corners and with VAR this protection was extended. The hustle and bustle of a Premier League penalty area from dead-ball positions is a different matter.
I've been watching Everton for over 60 years. If I could rank our keepers over that time, Southall is obviously our best keeper, possibly one of the greatest six British keepers ever; then for me Gordon West would be number two. His distribution was regarded as revolutionary at the time. Because, despite having a prodigious long kick, he more often threw the ball to Morrissey or Temple on the halfway line with a bowling action. He was the first keeper I saw who did this regularly.
Nigel Martyn would be the third best Everton keeper for me. Even though we only had him at the end of his career. Pickford would be vying for fourth best with George Wood and Jimmy O'Neill.
In other words, he's a better-than-average keeper, but nothing special. My 9-year-old grandson, a young keeper whom Leicester City are watching regularly, adores Jordan, but as I say, to me he's reasonable but not one of our best keepers.
Am I being unfair on the lad? Is he better than I think?
Reader Comments (57)
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1 Posted 20/09/2018 at 14:52:25
When the team is playing shite (and let's face it there's been a lot of that over the last few years), individual players seem to come in for criticism that seems too often extreme. When the team gels well and we get a decent result, the player is real class, but then he's suddenly not so good as soon as we get a bad result.
This flip-flopping from supporters, particularly on ToffeeWeb, just seems a reflection of the frustration we feel about Everton generally. We're 'comfortably midtable', something for which supporters of a lot of teams would gladly take, but we're desperate (probably because of our history) to be elite again.
Unlike supporters of most clubs, we EXPECT Everton, almost as a law of nature, to be elite, and I think that produces undue criticism of players as soon as their performance isn't tip-top or if they hit bad form as individuals.
I think we should just appreciate the goalie we have. I imagine top sides would readily sign him if they could.
2 Posted 20/09/2018 at 15:18:49
Having said that, our new young keeper Virginia excels at it and is not only a great prospect, he is, or should be, ready if Pickford gets too comfy (re Howard).
3 Posted 20/09/2018 at 15:27:38
I agree with the Southall, West, Martyn order but I'd have Howard fourth before George Wood. I only go back to Dunlop. Who was Jimmy O'Neill?
4 Posted 20/09/2018 at 15:35:25
I don't think he is in the same class as Courtois, De Gea and Lloris. Maybe he will be but not yet.
I am one of those who prefers my keepers slightly taller and I do think his distribution is considerably weaker than he believes it to be. He's certainly not had a good start to the season but i'm hoping that will change sooner rather than later. He's still probably one of our very few players who might start for some of the teams in the top 6, time will tell how he compares to the likes of Allison, Ederson and Kepa.
5 Posted 20/09/2018 at 15:41:07
6 Posted 20/09/2018 at 15:42:27
Let the kid keep playing, let the kid keep learning, let the kid keep improving, and maybe in a few years time, we will hopefully be talking about a great keeper, second only to greatest player (in his position) that I've ever seen play for Everton, even?
7 Posted 20/09/2018 at 15:58:16
8 Posted 20/09/2018 at 16:02:16
Taller keepers have height sure but are not as nimble. That isnt an issue.
If there is an issue, perhaps its temperament, I like my goalkeeper to be calm, assured.
Pickford is still too rash, too eager to affect the game, without thinking about the game situation. Defenders are skittish with a keeper who is not or at least seems calm.
I believe that will come with age and time in goal.
9 Posted 20/09/2018 at 16:08:19
Having said that, I'm not sure who is around, available and affordable who would be any better and, as the original poster states, it's hardly our top priority anyway.
10 Posted 20/09/2018 at 17:22:57
He is not in the same league as De Gea, or Courtois but, at his age, he can get there.
11 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:16:24
12 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:27:53
13 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:32:24
Maybe it's just me but Pickford gives me the slight impression of struggling to "take off" sometimes. I realise this is just an impression on my part that many will disagree with. I just tend to pay attention to goalies because I was one (a short-arsed one!).
14 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:35:48
15 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:36:45
16 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:40:09
I genuinely think Pickford is an adequate keeper; I think he's the least of our problems, given our central defence and midfield, but I don't see him as my grandson does as a great keeper. I think this may be generational, us old buggers have seen the evolution of the giant keeper and I do worry that in the modern game this may be a problem for Pickford when a 6'-5" centre-half is blocking him on corners.
As I said in the original article, I'm wondering how Everton fans see him relatively amongst our keepers.
17 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:51:39
Maybe JP is not good enough, maybe he is out of form, but hes certainky not too small.
18 Posted 20/09/2018 at 19:01:03
As we've discussed before, Pickford can make up for lack of height with spring and footwork as other smaller keepers do – but I'm not yet totally convinced – great goalie that he undoubtedly is.
19 Posted 20/09/2018 at 19:05:06
I would guess his England place is somewhat in danger although Southgate will probably stick with him for now; it would be harsh if he was dropped after a few mistakes.
As usual, players are lauded too soon and then criticised too soon.
20 Posted 20/09/2018 at 19:09:46
Southall is most qualified to give an opinion. David Preece and Shay Given give the same opinion. I've only ever seen Courtois criticise Pickford's height. So, it seems the experts all agree he's not too small. Same with all the “wrong hand” nonsense that Gary Neville started in the World Cup.
21 Posted 20/09/2018 at 19:12:45
Changing offside rules have introduced much more uncertainty in the back lines and goslkeeper positions, while the ‘flighty-bendy-swervy' balls used now are much more unpredictable that the old leathers used well into the '90s.
My view is the Pickford is a very solid keeper with very good distribution that will get better as the back 4/5 improves. Height is not an issue – although in future I would like him to start corners on Mina's shoulders...
22 Posted 20/09/2018 at 19:26:48
23 Posted 20/09/2018 at 19:29:40
24 Posted 20/09/2018 at 19:57:31
Like you, I remember Jimmy O'Neill in goal not a bad keeper, then he and Albert Dunlop seem to share the job at one time. Gordon West another very good keeper.
I remember back in the day when teams got to the FA Cup Final and the BBC every year had a player talk through the different qualities of each player in his team. But, for some reason, Catterick did ours our year and he said that Gordon was a very good goalkeeper but, if he had a weakness, it was dealing with crosses.
Just what you want as a player for your manager to point out your weakness; so, come the following season, every club we played seem to deliver more crosses than normal.
25 Posted 20/09/2018 at 20:28:35
In the canon of Everton keepers, we've had Big Nev, the best of the modern game post-1980, one of the best in Nigel Martyn, and a very good Tim Howard, until his confidence ebbed towards the end.
And an honourable mention though for Dai Davies, as someone once commented at Coventry away "He's a handsome bugger when he's got his teeth in"!
26 Posted 20/09/2018 at 20:43:36
27 Posted 20/09/2018 at 21:20:17
From just after the war when I first started watching the Blues we didn't use many goalkeepers upto 1960. l can only recall Sagar, O'Neill, Leyland, Dunlop, with fleeting appearances by George Burnett, Albert Harris and another keeper called Jones. I saw him in a pre season trial game but don't know if he played in a league game.
28 Posted 20/09/2018 at 21:23:39
I don't believe teams who perform like we currently do need a top class goalkeeper. Because when you defend like we do, no keeper will ever be good enough to keep everything out.
At the very top level where the best teams give away very few chances, this is where your man between the posts makes the difference and every great side has a great goalkeeper.
Our job is to build a team in which Pickford can shine. Where his shot stopping will get us the 3 points whilst his excellent distribution enhances the pattern of our play.
29 Posted 20/09/2018 at 21:37:57
I never look at De Gea and think he's that good because he's 6'-4". Many players that height never ‘jump' their height either. Smaller players are often much better because they've had to work at it.
The standards that should be related to a modern goalkeeper. The physical attributes matter much less, in the same way the modern footballer relies less on being a big ‘grock'. Ineista etc.
Pickford has to improve his game awareness, decision making and temperament. All mental attributes, that come with experience.
30 Posted 20/09/2018 at 21:40:20
Rick, regarding this line: "Nowadays, the best keepers are around 6'-6" tall: Cech, Courtois, etc." Not necessarily so. Pickford is the same height as Navas, Casillas and Schmeichel, and only an inch shorter than Ter Stegen, Ederson and Jan Oblak – all of whom are better keepers than Cech and Courtois in my opinion. (And all of whom have had brain farts like Picks did last Sunday.) And Claudio Bravo was briefly one of the top three keepers in the world a couple of years ago at only 6'-0".
Personally, I think Picks can be almost that good in time. He has exceptional physical talent and explosiveness, or "spring" as Ray puts it, but his footwork still needs refining to maximize those talents.
Stephen (#23), posts like that just make my eyes roll – the ones that claim to know how a player thinks just by looking at him. Silly.
31 Posted 20/09/2018 at 22:51:01
Now that save is etched in my memory. I reckon I can still hear the sound of it as he slapped it over the bar. The greatest save I ever saw.
32 Posted 20/09/2018 at 23:11:45
And on Pickford, enjoy him while we can, folks. He's one player who'll stroll into a top-six side unless we become one within the length of his current contract.
34 Posted 20/09/2018 at 06:17:12
My issue with Jordan is that he's usually the one shouting and screaming at players but there has been a number of overlooked mistakes or errors which has lead to us losing games or taking no points.
Lyon at home last year, totally overlooked because of the fight involving Williams and a fan. Nobody mentions Pickford got beat at his near post.
I think even against West Ham, any quality keeper saves the 3rd goal. Stick your foot out and he saves that. Sometimes his decision making when it comes to actually saving shots is awful. Someone mentioned Big Nev and Nigel Martyn, both of them would of stuck a leg out and saved West Ham's 3rd goal.
I like the guy but he needs to improve and start keeping some clean sheets if we as a team are going to start winning some points.
35 Posted 21/09/2018 at 10:19:30
36 Posted 21/09/2018 at 10:45:31
Fancy me forgetting Albert Harris, he has been a member of the same golf club as me for many years, I have spent many hours in his company.
Also Harry Leyland did go to Blackburn, I used to see Harry on a regular basis as he had a stall on Birkenhead market. I never saw Ted Sagar but my Dad reckons he was terrific.
37 Posted 21/09/2018 at 10:57:05
There are things he needs to improve at, but I have no doubt that he knows that and is already working on it. He's already clearly improved at coming off his line, which cost us two goals and the match away at Burnley last season. I'm confident he will become more commanding of his area as his own confidence and reputation grow.
38 Posted 21/09/2018 at 11:18:54
He's a improvement on Howard who watching many highlights reels between 2006-2015 made far too many madcap errors and erratic behaviour; my other gripes with Howard were he seemed to pull out of a dive if he was potentially clattering a post. In a decade I don't think I saw him with a cut head, lack of bravery and also the amount of times he ended up behind the goaline before the actual ball had crossed it, which tells me poor positional awareness.
For me, the attributes that make a top keeper hasn't nothing to do with height. Is he vocal, commanding, commands full respect from his defence, is he confident coming for crosses, is his handling good and most important is he fearless and brave?
Big Nev and Nigel Martyn were all of these things, Pickford at the moment is some but not yet all, maybe in time he can work on things.
Bravery for me is far more crucial for a goalkeeper than being a good shot stopper though — any fella out of the street can stop 9 out of 10 shots that are hit right at him.
39 Posted 21/09/2018 at 12:58:50
The press and pundits all say he has excellent distribution. This is a myth. His distribution is often poor, and whilst a quick long kick to our only advanced player may look like an inspired piece of vision, 9 times out of 10 it just gifts the ball back to the opposition with 10 of our players still in our own half and immediately we are back under the cosh.
I also tend to agree with some posters that, whilst he makes some brilliant saves he doesn't make too many one on one saves, or saves from shots from 12 yards or less. Southall, Martyn, Westy and even Andy Rankin all regularly made saves from these type of situations.
Pickford has never had a game where we have kept a clean sheet predominantly because he has made a string of world-class saves. Southall did this even though he was (generally) playing in front of an infinitely superior back four and covering midfielders. Martyn did it when we had back-fours and midfields similar to today.
Even last season I thought he had some glaring deficiencies in his game, he parried too many shots back into the danger areas, when he should have been holding on to the ball, and he was, and still is, not the best at dealing with crosses.
His time will come but he is not there yet.
40 Posted 21/09/2018 at 14:05:27
He needs to just focus on improving his game and reducing the amount of goals he concedes. There's no doubt he has potential, but he has a few things to improve on yet.
41 Posted 21/09/2018 at 16:01:42
Let's get the back four settled and get behind the kid. I believe he can go on and fill big Nev's boots. He certainly has Nev's passion.
42 Posted 21/09/2018 at 16:16:25
Bollocks. Howard was plenty brave, particularly diving at feet to get the ball (and with remarkably few pens in the process). I also note that your list of "attributes that make a top keeper" somehow doesn't mention the ability to stop shots, to make the blinding save that preserves the win. At his peak Howard was one of the finest shot-stoppers in the world. He made big saves at big moments, like the pen shootouts with ManUtd and Chelsea, and never had a true leak-thru-his-hands howler (a la Green, Cech, Hart, even De Gea).
Certainly he had his weaknesses, but overall he was every bit the equal of Martyn in my opinion.
43 Posted 21/09/2018 at 16:56:10
I looked up other prominent keepers with more than 200 appearances. Cech has one such blunder every 18 games, Joe Hart one every 16. Mignolet, Lloris and Fabianski are all at one error every 14 games.
I always considered Howard one of the most reliable, least error-prone keepers in the Premier League, and the statistics bear me out.
(By the way, the worst number I found was 24 errors in 233 appearances, or one every 9.7 games. Guess who? Bungles Begovic, the Human Howler Machine, whom some here were promoting as our next keeper before we landed Pickford.)
44 Posted 21/09/2018 at 18:45:08
45 Posted 21/09/2018 at 19:26:15
46 Posted 21/09/2018 at 21:38:21
In the overall Everton rankings I'd place Andy Rankin above O'Neill, Dunlop and Howard.
47 Posted 24/09/2018 at 19:04:02
Some of the players as has been well debated on other TW threads do deserve the honest feedback, on their performances, both good and bad. The healthy debate on TW, is what makes it such a good read.
Picjkford is still learning his trade, but I do believe he will make a fine goalkeeper in time.
I recall the first time I'd seen him play I think it was after we'd drew 3-3, at Chelsea, 3 years ago, in Jan 2015.
Sunderland got whacked 4-0, at Spurs but seeing the highlights, he must have saved 5 goals and I was impressed, and I said to my son and brother, one for the future.
Long way to go, and remember Dino Zoff, he was just under 6ft and won trophies galore at club and a few major trophies for Italy, 1982 World Cup and 1968 European Championship, how good he was and for me if Neville Southall states he's good enough, that's good enough for me.
Of course Dino Zoff had legendary players in front of him, in what was a golden age for Italian football.
In fairness, Pickford doesn't have that in this Everton team, but the potential is there.
Get Mina in and Gomes, and let's see where this season goes.
48 Posted 24/09/2018 at 19:31:21
I'm certainly never comfortable with him in goal. I didn't even think about Joel Robles in that position when he had that good run under Koeman.
49 Posted 24/09/2018 at 19:43:40
David Preece gives an excellent analysis on Jordan Pickford. But you have to take what he says with a pinch of salt, remembering that Preece is also from Sunderland, and played with and perhaps even coached young Jordan, and so is a bit too close to give an impartial opinion. He raves about Pickfird for what it's worth:
50 Posted 24/09/2018 at 20:02:57
Interesting how much that Januzaj goal resembles Yarmolenko's strike last week.
51 Posted 24/09/2018 at 20:12:16
The link to Pickford must just be they know each other from being goal keepers from Sunderland, albeit 15 years between them. I was sure Preece had said something about being in the same side as Pickford. It was definitely spoken rather than written, and I can't find anything to back that up. So I will assume you're right and they never played together and Preece never coached him.
52 Posted 24/09/2018 at 20:25:45
Anyway, he left Sunderland in '97 when Pickford was two years old, so they certainly never played together, but who knows, they might well have connected through the club at some point and done some informal coaching.
53 Posted 24/09/2018 at 20:32:48
Also Mike, I think Preece is trying to carve out a niche for himself as a goalkeeper expert and so criticises the punditry of the ex-pros to his own gain. That said, I do think he has an excellent point. I loved the bit he did about the "wrong hand" when he said hold your hands above your head, tilt the to the right, now tell me which one you think you'd have more power with, and tell me that's the top hand. I had never thought of it that way, and I bet Gary Neville too.
54 Posted 24/09/2018 at 20:55:06
Interesting that I see Hislop so often on ESPN here in the States, but he doesn't "pundit" on keepers but rather on the whole game.
Regarding any intersections with Jordan, I presume you cross-checked their resumes as I did and found none, but Pickford was on Sunderland's books for a long time and they could have met in summer training or something while Preece was home visiting Ma and Pa. I would guess that's the genesis of Preece's "same club" comment.
55 Posted 24/09/2018 at 21:27:08
Having looked into it, I think the relationship is simply that Preece cut his journalistic teeth at the local Sunderland paper (their version of the Echo) and so spent a lot of time talking to Pickford. No doubt his credentials as a former player got him better access, as well as his very favourable writeups.
Preece has progressed since then, to freelancing and writing for the broadsheets and getting on the radio and onto podcasts. He pundits on the whole of the game, not just keepers. But, if there is a keeper talking point, he seems to have established himself as the go to guy, particularly on Pickford in particular and especially when discussing his performances for England.
It's worth noting that after the Belgium game, it seemed the broadsheets went from getting someone in to defend Pickford (Preece) than someone to stick the boot in, which is what the English press has always done in the past.
56 Posted 26/09/2018 at 14:22:24
1. Southall (by a country mile)
3. Pickford/George Wood
Saw Gordon West but was too young to judge. Would love to see an analysis of how many points Southall gave us during that Championship season. Can recall several games were we were battered and got away with wins and draws solely because of him.
58 Posted 24/10/2018 at 14:48:59
59 Posted 08/11/2018 at 09:48:32
I think Pickford will overtake Martyn in these rankings over time. The height argument is a total red herring. You don't need to be tall to beat a big striker/defender in the air because you can use your hands. And as for reach – it's also about agility and speed which tends to be inversely proportionate to height.
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