Ancelotti lends backing to Pickford amid criticism
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has spoken out in support of Jordan Pickford, after his mistake against Crystal Palace last time out garnered fresh criticism.
The former Sunderland stopper allowed a tame Christian Benteke effort to slip under his body from a tight angle, bringing the Eagles back into the game at 1-1. Goals from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were required to steady the ship for the Toffees.
But as his team ready themselves for a trip to Arsenal on Sunday, the Italian was keen to heap the plaudits on his man.
“To be England number one is a responsibility I think he deserves,” Ancelotti said. “In my opinion, he is the best English goalkeeper.”
Washington-born Pickford was an integral part of Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions side for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, saving from Carlos Bacca of Colombia to propel England to their first-ever penalty shoot-out victory in the competition. The following year, he followed up on his heroics by converting and saving spot-kicks in the UEFA Nations League finals victory over Switzerland.
But domestically, the Everton man’s inconsistent form has often been called into question. Errors have peppered his performances since his return from the World Cup, with high-profile gaffes such as his Merseyside derby misjudgement in 2018 that gifted Divock Origi a last-gasp winner at Anfield leaving him under the spotlight.
In September, pundit and former Manchester United title-winner Gary Neville also slammed the Blues’ goalkeeper for appearing to laugh while 3-1 down to Manchester City.
But ex-Napoli boss Ancelotti is firm in his stance, adding: “Nobody is perfect, so we have to accept the mistake of the goalkeeper and also we have to accept that Jordan for us is very important.”
Pickford began his career as a Black Cats youth player, with loan spells at Darlington, Carlisle, Bradford and Preston coming before a first-team debut at the Emirates, in a 3-1 FA Cup defeat at the hands of Arsenal. His move to Everton for an initial fee of £25million came in June 2017.
Capped by the national team at every level from under-16, he holds the curious distinction of having conceded the only goal scored by a goalkeeper from open play in a FIFA finals tournament, Canadian Quillan Roberts’ downfield boot catching him out at the 2011 U17 World Cup.