Nick Pope needing to leave Burnley for England number 1 spot is complete nonsense

29 March 2021 07:45

The stars have truly aligned for Nick Pope over the past six months.

Following Burnley's disastrous start to the season, which saw many tipping them to finally succumb to the dreaded drop, the Clarets have turned their poor form on its head, losing only once in the past eight matches.

Pope has been in fine form of late | Pool/Getty Images

Pope has shone in their resurgence and came out on top in a battle between Burnley and Everton, which saw his England rival Jordan Pickford substituted through injury. The Toffees goalkeeper, by the way, has endured a torturous season, dropping a number of high-profile clangers, proving himself to be entirely untrustworthy between the sticks.

In fact, his injury issues in February probably came as a bit of a blessing to coach Carlo Ancelotti, who was able to rotate his shot-stoppers and put his backline's collective mind and panic attacks at ease.

That most recent knock ruled Pickford out of the latest round of Three Lions internationals, resulting in Pope being handed the number one jersey for clashes with San Marino, Albania and possibly the final test against Poland.

Has he seized the opportunity, you ask? Yes, he has. In Pope's six matches between the sticks for Gareth Southgate's side, he hasn't conceded a goal, which, according to Opta, is the first time in England's history that a goalkeeper has achieved this feat.

In short, he's the greatest goalkeeper the country has ever seen. Okay, that's potentially a touch too far. But what is not too far to suggest, however, is that Pope must start the Three Lions' opening match at the Euro 2020 tournament on June 13.

So, why, why oh why, is Rob Dorsett (as cited by TurfCast) reporting that Pope must leave Burnley this summer in order to become the long-term holder of England's number one jersey?

If this is the case, what on earth is Southgate thinking? If this ultimatum is being levelled at the England shot-stopper because he is playing for an 'inferior' club compared to Pickford, lest we not forget that the Clarets finished above Everton in the league table last season.

In fact, Burnley bettered the Toffees' points total in 2017/18 too, finishing an extremely respectable seventh - the coveted 'best of the rest' position.

So, it's time to drop the snootiness when it comes to Burnley and the perception of the club, given they've outperformed Everton in two of the last three seasons, all on a much smaller budget.

Next up on the agenda will undoubtedly be the playing style. "Pope doesn't know how to pass the ball because he plays for a hoof-ball, boring team like Burnley." Look, just because he doesn't play carpet football at club level, it doesn't mean he can't.

Pope showed some great composure in possession against Albania on Sunday afternoon, taking his time with the ball at his feet and picking out the right pass upfield more often than not. He produced a cute little dink from the edge of his box into the path of Kane, who was stood on the halfway line, and never looked fazed by an onrushing forward.

In fact, the stats show that when called upon, the Pope has all the answers. According to stat guru WhoScored, the shot-stopper typically manages less than 50% pass completion when tending the sticks for Burnley, due to the number of ambitious long balls he's asked to propel towards the forehead of Chris Wood.