Angus Gunn Can Be Pickford's Successor !
Wednesday, 13th Mar 2019 10:32
With Jordan Pickford coming under fire in some quarters for his suspect temperament we take a look at the situation and suggest Angus Gunn could be the next permanent England keeper.
This week Scotland manager Alex McLeish has been revealed as having exchanged private messages with the Father of Angus Gunn regarding whether the Saints keeper would be willing to swap allegiances from England to his Father's home country North of the border.
His Dad is of course former Norwich City keeper Bryan Gunn who himself was capped six times for Scotland and played with McNeish at Aberdeen and they are said to be close friends.
Whether that constitutes tapping up is doubtable it is different at International level, but the fact is with Gunn Jnr not having been capped at full International level the Three Lions need to move fast or risk losing him.
Certainly there is a gap appearing under the heading of Young Reliable International Goalkeepers in the England squad.
Jordan Pickford initially looked to be a great prospect, three years ago at the age of 22 his prospects looked bleak at Sunderland, ironically with only two Premier League appearances to his name he came into the side due to injury at St Mary's at the start of 2016/17 season and put in a great display and kept his place.
That lead to Everton paying around £30 million for a player who had exactly 31 Premier League appearances to his name although he did have a number of games under his belt in the lower divisions on loan.
His first season was a success playing in every League game and being named as Everton's player of the year leading to being considered England's number 1 keeper due to a loss of form by Joe Hart and injuries to other potential candidates.
But this season something has changed for Pickford, it was first noticed last season by Evertonians, but came to the fore against Saints when he came rushing off his line and almost cut Danny Ings in half his studs slicing Ing's shirt off his back.
This reckless behaviour has continued both for country when he almost gifted Spain a goal and should have seen a penalty against him and for his club, notably in the defeat to Liverpool at Anfield where he failed to deal with a looping shot that he thought was going out and saw it then bounce into play to gift Liverpool victory.
It is not a lack of goalkeeping talent, but suspect temperament, both in the way he seems to be unable to control his decision making often rushing out recklessly and also arrogance as shown at Anfield, perhaps both are the symptom of the other so to speak.
Certainly we have a flawed keeper at present and Everton fans were dismayed at his display at Newcastle at the weekend that saw him gift the game to the Geordies after Everton looked comfortable leading 2-0 at half time.
He is currently the goalkeeper with the most errors in the Premier League both in those that merely lead to shots on goal - 7 but also those that lead to goals -4
He not only made errors but appeared to engage in a running argument with the crowd who were baiting him as an ex Sunderland player. Everton supporters talk of a player who seems to have lost the confidence of his defence who are unsure what he will do at any given moment.
There are now big questions being asked about whether he has the temperament to handle the pressure not only in the Premier league but at International level.
The question is who would replace him, a look at Burnley sees three candidates for the job, Joe Hart would be the main candidate perhaps, but he can't get in the Burnley team after being axed at Xmas and turning 32 next month is hardly one for the future, Tom Heaton replaced him but he is a year older than Hart and in April will be 33.
Nick Pope is the third of the April born Burnley keepers and the youngst in that he will be 27 next month, he has one cap for England, but is now third choice at Turf Moor and has only 35 Premier League caps to his name.
Jack Butland is certainly an option and is still only 26, but against him is the fact that after breaking through at an early age he has never really shown his true potential and at the moment is playing in the Championship for Stoke City, in the old days this wasn't an issue but seems to be in the modern game.
So that could leave Gareth Southgate looking at Southampton for his England keepers, Alex McCarthy was an option earlier in the season when his good form last season for Saints was rewarded with an England call up and to date hs only cap back in November.
But since then his club form has not been great and he has been replaced by Angus Gunn.
Against Gunn for taking over from Pickford immediately is his inexperience, he is the youngest of the contenders at 23 and has the least games behind him at any level totalling only 46 in the Championship on loan at Norwich last season and 5 Premier League starts for Saints.
But in those games he has shown composure and confidence and it should be noted he has already been called up for an England squad back in November 2017 and also attended a pre World Cup training camp at the end of last season, so is in the England manager's thoughts already.
This being the case I would not be surprised to see Gunn called up to this latest squad, although I think Southgate will still stick with Pickford as his number 1 rather than discard him without finding out whether this blip is just a fleeting thing or something more worryingly permanent.
If these games were friendlies I would expect Gunn to get at least part of a game if selected for the squad, but it would be a brave manager who would throw in such an inexperienced keeper for a vital qualifying game.
Gunn turned down Scotland a year ago but Alex McCleish is persistent, if I were Gunn I would not be in a rush, I would stick with England, I would keep playing well for Saints and i would be looking towards the summer when with that bit more experience behind me I would be a serious contender for the number 1 spot if Pickford's problems persist.
So the answer is yes Gunn can be Pickford's successor, perhaps not in the next couple of months, but certainly in the next year, of the potentially contenders, Pope, Hart, McCarthy and Bettinelli can't get in their club's first teams and Butland is playing in the Championship, leaving only Pickford and Heaton currently first choice in the Premier League ahead of Gunn.
Hopefuly Angus Gunn will have his head screwed on and be patient, his time will come very soon as it did at St Mary's.
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