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Goalkeeper spotlight: Ben Foster

In a previous spotlight I posted about Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny and that infamous mix up with Laurent Koscielny in the 2011 Carling Cup Final. However let’s not forget that in that match, even though Szczesny may not have been having the best of games, in the opposite goal, Ben Foster was showing the world just why he is one England’s finest keepers.

Like Tom Heaton of Cardiff (also previously in one of my Goalkeeper spotlights), Foster was also a former keeper at Manchester United who like Heaton was unlikely to ever be first choice keeper at United considering the form of Edwin van der Sar (and then also to become third choice in the pecking order behind Tomasz Kuszczak). So like Heaton, Foster has had to move away from United to establish himself.

Foster had a loan spell away from Manchester United with Watford, where he was described by the then Watford Manager, Aidy Boothroyd as “better than current Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar”. With Boothroyd proclaiming that Foster “is going to be the best goalkeeper in the world.” High praise indeed, but then he did help Watford secure their promotion to the Premier league and was named Player of the Season the following year when on loan again with Watford.

So after impressing on loan and with Watford and with Alex Ferguson also believing he had a potential talent, Foster eventually got the chance to take over from Edwin van der Sar at a time when van der Sar was injured. However, where as David De Gea at Manchester United seems to have been given the time to prove himself even after being slated by the press, Foster appeared not to have had such a grace period.

Like De Gea, Foster to seemed to be having a crisis of confidence.[http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/oct/05/ben-foster-england-manchester-united].

But you have to hand it to Foster, even though being slated by the press, especially after the 2-1 defeat to France, Foster has dusted himself off and got on to show that Aidy Boothroyd’s comments were just.

Foster’s move from Manchester United for an estimated £6m to Birmingham City, really showcased his talent. Although when he first moved, Foster had a lot to live up to as the previous season saw loanee Joe Hart show Manchester City just why he is considered England’s best keeper (and was enough to ensure that Hart then became first choice at Manchester City, which was frustrating to their other great keeper, Shay Given!). However, Foster showed that he was equal to Joe Hart, and kept things as tight as Hart did at the back. Becoming a firm favourite with the Birmingham fans especially after his heroics in that Carling Cup final, picking up the man of the match award in that Final. [http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Birmingham-man-of-the-match-keeper-Ben-Foster-amazed-at-the-Carling-Cup-triumph-over-Arsenal-against-all-odds-article708595.html]

In addition to his Carling Cup winners medal and man-of the match, like at Watford, Foster was also deservedly awarded Birmingham’s Player of the Season!

Even though Foster was in inspirational form it was not enough to keep Birmingham in the Premiership and with subsequent relegation, meant that Birmingham needed to look at sending out Foster on loan to help their wage bill. This has seen Foster go on loan to West Brom, with the option of signing permanently, should Birmingham fail in their bid to bounce straight back up into the Premier League. Birmingham’s loss is most certainly West Brom’s gain, as he is now their first choice keeper producing again exceptional goalkeeping prowess that is getting the praise he deserves, from his Manager, Roy Hodgson who has stated in the press of his desire to keep Foster permanently [http://www.sundaymercury.net/midlands-sport/west-bromwich-albion-fc/west-brom-news/2012/03/18/west-brom-roy-hodgson-praises-ben-foster-66331-30561771/]; and getting high praise from Alan Hansen on this weekend’s Match of the Day after producing a string of fine saves.

Foster has most certainly grown into a great goalkeeper. An asset to any team… It now is not really a question as to whether he will pick up more awards, as with the form he is in, it is almost a certainty that he will be honoured again….The only question really for us, England fans, is how can we persuade Foster to join the England squad again? To have both Joe Hart and Ben Foster at future championships with England would be fantastic!

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Punch or Catch?

In the Liverpool vs Brighton and Hove Albion FA Cup match, we saw Peter Brezovan decide to Punch out in front of Goal rather than catch the ball. The result of which was that the ball was punched out to a Liverpool player. Which then came back into the danger zone and a couple of defensive errors later the ball was in the back of the net.

The commentators suggested that he (Brezovan) should have caught the ball. And even though in a previous blog I suggested that commentators should think about doing a goalkeeper coaching course, this time I agreed with them. He was at the right height to catch the ball. What’s more if you are going to Punch the ball you should at least make sure you punch it out to a great distance or to the side of the goal. This was seen where Tom Heaton of Cardiff City against the same team, Liverpool in the Carling Cup Final, punched strongly away from goal. Or as also seen in this picture where Jamie Langfield of Aberdeen punched the ball clear after being under immense pressure from Dundee United in the CIS Cup.

image from news.bbc.uk

However sometimes making the right call of punching doesn’t work out, as David Forde of Millwall found out in the match against West Ham. It was the correct decision made to punch especially with the pressured situation he was in, however like Peter Brezovan, the execution was not great.

Let’s not hold it against these keepers, as mistakes are made and as goalkeepers we live by our decisions. Bette still that we learn from these experiences and develop. Besides, when it comes to deciding whether to punch or catch often it’s an instinctive reaction that when executed correctly has great impact.

image from youngseagulls.co.uk

Coaching punching technique is the easy part. However this is another example of how imagery scripts can help in the decision-making process. By imagining different situations and how you would react to each and in training this in the mind so that when faced with such a situation you are as ready as you can be. But that then is the difficult part as however much we train our minds there can always be ‘that’ situation that we haven’t trained for that such a split second decision is made… With 1 of 2 outcomes… We can only pray it’s a good one! 😉

Bird Spotting – The Final!

And what a Final!

The Carling Cup between the Bluebirds and the Liver Birds was intense and showed just why I was singing the praises of Cardiff City goalkeeper, Tom Heaton. Drawing the plaudits for his goalkeeping during the match and for a tremendous penalty save. Showing just why as a Goalkeeper you use every part of your body in a penalty save. Throwing out an arm to save not only a penalty, but that from a Steven Gerrard spot kick!

Let’s not overshadow Pepe Reina’s performance in the penalty shoot out. Equally as impressive. Alas though… only one of them could get the winners medal, but I think that Cardiff’s Goalkeeper was not necessarily a ‘loser’ here… As now others have seen him on one of the biggest stages. What do you reckon: International or Premiership call???

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17093419

Bird Spotting – The Final!

And what a Final!

The Carling Cup between the Bluebirds and the Liver Birds was intense and showed just why I was singing the praises of Cardiff City goalkeeper, Tom Heaton. Drawing the plaudits for his goalkeeping during the match and for a tremendous penalty save. Showing just why as a Goalkeeper you use every part of your body in a penalty save. Throwing out an arm to save not only a penalty, but that from a Steven Gerrard spot kick!

Let’s not overshadow Pepe Reina’s performance in the penalty shoot out. Equally as impressive. Alas though… only one of them could get the winners medal, but I think that Cardiff’s Goalkeeper was not necessarily a ‘loser’ here… As now others have seen him on one of the biggest stages. What do you reckon: International or Premiership call???

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17093419

Goalkeeper spotlight: Tom Heaton

After his heroics in the Penalty shoot out against Crystal Palace (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/16589189), after saving two penalties, Tom Heaton is winning his battle to be fit to play in the Carling Cup Final against Liverpool.

In the match against Palace, Tom Heaton received the praise he deserved (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/16712457). It’s not the first time Heaton has drawn the plaudits, after winning Cardiff’s young player of the season the year before.

Tom Heaton has battled a few times with injury in the past and this has often been the reason for him not necessarily being a first choice keeper. But battles back he does, eventually earning himself a first team start and then doing more than enough to stay in between the sticks.

It’s not just injury he battles then, he battles to be number one, and what a fight against the also impressive David Marshall. I hope that he gets his chance against Liverpool as he’s most certainly earned it. Even David Marshall agrees: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/16954682

I think Tom Heaton is definitely a Keeper to watch – a talented player who will have a big future!

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