There was a point last season where plenty of Everton supporters had written Jordan Pickford off as a dependable goalkeeper. So the rediscovery of his form late in the campaign and heading into the summer’s European Championships was one of the big surprises of 2021.
Since the Merseyside derby in February, where Pickford helped Everton to a 2-0 win over Liverpool with some excellent saves, the goalkeeper has been the Toffees’ best player. And ahead of a crucial competition for England this summer, he’s outlined some of the steps he’s taken to improve his game.
“I just feel in a very good place,” he told the Telegraph. “I began working with a psychologist at the start of the season.
“You know in football, those little one or two per cent gains — just to raise your ability on the pitch and what you can achieve — are crucial. Whether it’s nutrition, psychology, extra gym sessions. I think it helps. So why not use it?
“…It’s crucial and I feel that I have kicked on this year. I feel calmer, I feel in the moment and I feel great.”
While not having supporters in the stadium will be one big contributing factor to Pickford’s calmer demeanour, there’s no denying that in recent months he has matured for Everton. It would appear the work he’s been doing off the field is beginning to have a positive impact on what he’s doing on it.
Earlier in his career there was a willingness from him to get involved in moments that he could easily take a step back from and a subsequent erraticism emerged in his play. Those flare ups have been seen a lot less frequently since, making him the easy choice for Gareth Southgate as England’s starter this summer, especially given how well he performed at the 2018 World Cup.
Of course, Pickford still takes more risks than a typical goalkeeper, as looks to get the team moving with ambitious distribution; that leaves open the possibility of the occasion mistake. But choosing the moments to take those chances is something he’s getting better at, giving England and Everton fans more assurance than they would’ve had previously with the stopper.