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And you think the criticism of Bale is bad… Try being a Goalkeeper!

So because Gareth Bale was the worlds most expensive football player, gives the fans the right to single him out for criticism for a failing Madrid side? 

Why are goalkeepers singled out for criticism for a side losing because they made one mistake all match, leading to a 1-0 loss?

The same reason for both is that they are both seen as being in a position of responsibility and that some people forget that this is a team game. It is a team that can lose matches not just one player. 

I have seen Goalkeepers from grass roots up to professional level, who have for most of the match, played superbly well, but for one moment of madness, at the end of the match to find that because of this the ‘player of the week’ or ‘man of the match’ gets given to an outfield player. What’s more at the end of the season even though they have improved immensely, because they were not star player or had conceded the losing goals in the weeks leading up to the awards, they get overlooked. 

Not getting the recognition, because the defence in front of you parts like the Red Sea… Meaning you have more shots at you than a tin can alley. Hmm… Actually looking at it like this, I actually think Bale gets it easy… If you compare him to a grassroots goalkeeper… Even though Bale gets flak, he get paid millions for the privilege… Such a hard life. 

What’s more we now learn that David de Gea is considering a move to Real Madrid. It took him a while to win over the fans and the press alike when he started at Manchester United, even when a number of the goals were through Defensive errors. He has now most definitely silenced those critics. So why would he really consider going through all that again, especially if he does make those little mistakes that the at mean he gets the ‘Bale Treatment’… Oh yes and get paid millions for the privilege… Such a hard life.  ūüėČ

Villain to Hero

After posting the article about Casper Ankergren, of his momentary error that cost 2 points for Brighton an Hove Albion after a sterling display, I read some fascinating stats in another Goalkeeper also once berated by the press for similar momentary errors. Someone who the press were writing about his replacement at Manchester United almost as soon as he’d started his career there…

Fast forward to the recent stats in the Premiership and David De Gea is now showing that those critics (as usually is the case) were far to quick to judge. Keeping it clean at Manchester United for 627 minutes and now being called up to the Senior Spanish Team. Well deserved!

Let’s hope he keeps proving his doubters wrong. Although if he does make a mistake, can we please keep it real and remember the good times?

…And with the Manchester Derby this weekend with the expected barrage of shots, will he be able¬†to keep this premier league clean sheet run going, so that he can come close to,¬†match or even surpass the record by another Manchester United great, Edwin van der Sar, who kept it clean for 1,311 minutes?

To K or not to K?

Through the continual development of my Goalkeeper Coaching, I have observed and been taught various coaching techniques and styles. Understanding that different coaching methods suit different abilities, ages or situations in game play. The one coaching technique that seems to have a varying degree of opinion is the scoop technique and the use of (or not) the ‘K-Position’.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to the ‘K-Position’, but each do have their own merits, albeit in differing situations.

The following diagram (figure 1), shows 3 figures doing 3 types of scoop catches.

The Scoop Save - Which of the 3 is the best?

figure 1

1. Shows the Goalkeeper reaching down to the floor with feet close together, using the hands to let the ball roll up them, scooping the ball, eventually pulling the ball into the chest.

2. Shows the start of a ‘K-Position’ but not actually allowing the bent knee to fully touch the floor. Again¬†using the hands to let the ball roll up them, scooping the ball.

3. Shows the ‘K-Position’. This is similar to 2., but with the bent knee touching the floor.

The biggest advantage of ‘K-Position’ is that by putting the knee down creates a second barrier, so that as a Goalkeeper you have a safeguard behind your hands acting as another ‘barrier’ in front of goal, that the ball would hit, if the ball does get through the hands…

However the ‘K-Position’ has a big¬†disadvantage¬†too, just ask Rob Green…

image from smh.com.au

image from smh.com.au

As we saw in the 2010 World Cup, when England played the USA, Rob Green had to deal with what seemed a tame shot. He made the decision to use the ‘K-Position’, and saw the ball end up in the back of the net. For the biggest disadvantage of the ‘K-Position’¬†is that once committed to it, your movement as a Goalkeeper is limited, so if the ball hits a divot and changes direction you are already committed and will find it as difficult as Rob Green did to recover…

This doesn’t mean that the¬†‘K-Position’ is truly bad, if used when completely behind a ball (ensuring movement to get into a position to take behind the ball), it is can be very effective. So one school of thought is to use it when dealing with slower balls… Or as Figure 1 drawing 2, to coach the Goalkeeper to not let the knee fully touch the ground as then you are not fully committed and have a little more flexibility in movement.

The other school of thought though, is not to use it at all, and to just coach as Figure 1 drawing 1, ensuring that the feet are not too far apart, so that the legs can become the second barrier. That if needed, when dealing with a faster ball, to either do a collapsing save (dropping down straight on top of the ball) or to smother the ball (by scoping the ball up but dropping forward onto the ball).

Which ever school of thought, each can be used and each have their merits…¬†of which I am slowly starting to learn more about, and also of what their drawbacks might be. It is our job as Goalkeeper coaches to therefore understand each and of which would best suit the Goalkeepers we train. We can then assist them to make¬†the¬†right decision… However, that said, with the many different¬†scenarios¬†that could present themselves to a Goalkeeper in an¬†actual¬†game, it can sometime be difficult for any Goalkeeper to ensure that they make exactly the right choice. For they can only make one, which will be in the split second they have to think about it and one that they feel is the right one to do at¬†the¬†time.

Understanding these different techniques and deciding when to use and not to use which one, is why the life as a Goalkeeper has its challenges. With¬†the¬†biggest challenge being the critics, especially those who aren’t¬†conscious¬†of¬†the¬†fact that Goalkeepers have so many choices to make. As¬†Rob Green discovered, choosing the ‘K-Position’, seemed right at¬†the¬†time (as it would for most Goalkeepers), as this seemed such a straight forward catch… but as we all saw it was a decision that meant yet again another Goalkeeper was to be slated by our unforgiving press. ¬†Just look at Joe Hart over¬†the¬†last 2 weeks, a hero for England against Brazil and then a¬†Villain¬†for Manchester City… or the ever slated David deGea, now lauded as one of the best Goalkeepers after his heroics for Manchester United to deny Real Madrid… and all because of¬†the¬†choices made… Who’d be a Goalkeeper… me definitely – it’s just too much fun! ūüėČ

The sparkling new season kicks off – So which Goalkeeper will shine?

A new season with new opportunities for Goalkeepers to cement their place in their clubs folklore, to show them self as the new star on the block or just try desperately to deal with all that is thrown at them…

So who do we have to watch this season? Who will we be most excited about and who will excel?

In the English Premier League, we will get chance to see those Goalkeepers again who impressed last season, through their impressive stats, such as¬†Manchester City’s Joe Hart¬†(Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-c1 and Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-80)¬†and Manchester United’s David De Gea (Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-c3). Will they impress again or for De Gea¬†will he be pushed this time¬†for his place in goal by the equally impressive Andres Lindegaard now that he is back from injury?¬†

Will Arsenal’s Worjciech¬†Szczesny¬†(Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-5u)¬†put his Euro 2012 red card behind him and build on his stats last season to be the¬†Goalkeeper that lives up to the potential Arsene Wenger believes he has to be one of the greatest Goalkeepers?

We have some new¬†Goalkeepers¬†to watch too, where¬†through promotion from the Championship we see two exciting propositions, with equally¬†impressive stats,¬†Reading’s Adam Federici (Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-bA and Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-am) and Southampton’s Kelvin Davis (Awards http://wp.me/p27nBU-bX and¬†Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-5o). Can they continue their impressive form or is the Premiership too big a step up…?

West Ham also promoted lost England Goalkeeper Robert Green to QPR¬†who felt that he has the potential they need to keep it clean at the back and help¬†QPR¬†avoid their dalliance¬†with the¬†drop zone this term… A great Goalkeeper indeed with the¬†potential to¬†be their saviour, however will they be too reliant on him and perhaps¬†will he then¬†be as busy as Wolverhampton¬†Wanderer’s Wayne Henessey¬†was last season if the QPR defence is not there to help him?

West Ham instead bring in a new Goalkeeper but one¬†who is very¬†experienced¬† in the Premiership, Jussi Jaaskelainen¬†from relegated Bolton Wanderers to work once again with Sam Allardyce. Jussi’s stats were also impressive last term, before he was unfortunately out for the season through injury. However if he rediscovers this form, could he help Big Sam bring back a mean defence like that which they both experienced in the old¬†days at Bolton Wanderers, to keep West Ham in the Premiership? A defensive record similar to that which Martin O’Neill can boast in his time in the premiership, that may also see Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet (Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-6k) shine?

We have already discussed QPR¬†but what about second season syndrome for last terms other Premiership new boys, will the defensive records slip for Swansea’s penalty king¬†Michel Vorm or¬†Norwich’s England new boy John Ruddy?

Will it be these that I have mentioned or the other equally impressive¬†Goalkeepers of Stoke City’s Asmir¬†Begovic, Wigan Athletic’s Ali Al-Habsi¬†or Newcastle United’s Tim Krul that shine?

Perhaps¬†indeed it could be a more¬†experienced Premiership Goalkeeping¬†head that steals the lime light such as¬†Tottenham’s Brad Friedel, Aston Villa’s Shay Given, Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer, Chelsea’s Petr Cech, West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster (Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-6Q), Liverpool’s Pepe Reina, or Everton’s Tim Howard, that stand out this season?

It’s early doors in the Premiership with a number of goals scored against some of our hopefuls,¬†whilst¬†some others are already¬†impressing… ¬†However with another¬†37 games to go I wonder who will stand out from the¬†crowd¬†(and for the right reasons!). Who ever it is, for now I think¬†we should sit back and watch as we are most certainly all¬†in for a treat of some tremendous displays of Goalkeeping – I can’t wait ūüėČ

Euro 2012 Group B Goalkeepers

The Goalkeepers to Watch in this tournament (if they get their chance)… A quick guide to the Goalkeepers at Euro 2012

PART TWO – GROUP B

Denmark

Stephan Anderson, √Čvian, Age 30 – Squad Number 1 – 10 senior international appearances prior to this tournament

Anders Lindegaard, Manchester United, Age 28 – Squad Number 16 – 5 international appearances

Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City, Age 25 – Squad Number 22 – 0 international appearances

Germany

Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich, Age 26 – Squad Number 1 – 26 international appearances

Tim Wiese, 1899 Hoffenheim, Age 30 – Squad Number 12 – 6 international appearances

Ron-Robert Zieler, Hannover 96, Age 23 – Squad Number 22 – 1 international appearance

Holland

Maarten Stekelenburg, Roma, Age 29 РSquad Number 1 Р47 international appearances

Michel Vorm, Swansea City FC, Age 28 – Squad Number 12 – 9 international appearances

Tim Krul, Newcastle United FC, Age 24 – Squad Number 22 – 3 international appearances

Portugal

Eduardo Carvalho, S.L. Benfica, Age 29 – Squad Number 1 – 28 international appearances

Rui Patricio, Sporting Club de Portugal, Age 24 – Squad Number 12 – 11 international appearances

Beto, CFR Cluj, Age 30 – Squad Number 22 – 1 international appearance

This is the group they are calling the ‘Group of Death’ albeit we are not expecting anyone to lose life, however we are expecting some major casualties. Will this be the group that we see the tournaments best goalkeeper come from as they do battle against some stern opposition?¬†¬†Will any of these be your pick of the tournament…

Premiership 2011-2012 Goalkeeper Awards – Double Award: David De Gea

Not 1 but 2 Awards this time for just one Goalkeeper… And if we look back to last year this Goalkeeper was being written off¬†by sections of the press. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe all you read in the tabloids. So a¬†big congratulations to Manchester United’s David De Gea for:

  • Best Clean Sheets to Games Ratio; and
  • Meanest Keeper = Number of Goals¬†Conceded to Shots on Goal.

The following is a break down of the top 5 players in all three categories from www.goalkeepingitreal.co.uk:

  Player Club Games Played Clean Sheets % Clean Sheets vs games
1st David De Gea Manchester United 29 13 44.83%
2nd Joe Hart Manchester City 38 17 44.74%
3rd Tim Krul Newcastle United 38 15 39.47%
4th Simon Mignolet Sunderland 29 11 37.93%
5th Michel Vorm Swansea City 37 14 37.84%

And

  Player Club Goals Conceded Shots on Goal % Conceded vs Shots
1st David De Gea Manchester United 29 134 21.64%
2nd Joe Hart Manchester City 29 133 21.80%
3rd Simon Mignolet Sunderland 33 139 23.74%
4th Brad Friedel Tottenham Hotspur 41 163 25.15%
5th Michel Vorm Swansea City 49 194 25.26%

2011-2012 Premiership’s Best Goalkeeper Poll

So I have already shown my cards as to who I think is the stand out Goalkeeper of the Premiership this Season. But you may disagree with me… especially as there has been some fantastic Goalkeeping examples by a number of the Goalkeepers in the top level.

Now is your chance to vote for your best in my poll.

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!

Goalkeeper – Hero or Villain?

The goalkeeper position is so unforgiving and even more so under the spotlight of the highest levels of football. These keepers are expected to be absolute superstars and come under intense scrutiny when they make a mistake or not keep a clean sheet.

It could be said that it is the same for forward too at the highest level, if they don’t score the goals week in week out… However there is usually more than one forward on the pitch to share the blame. That then, there is a share of the responsibility. Although should there be a collective blame too of a defence when things go wrong at the back?

Not in the case of David de Gea, who was heavily criticised by the press following their defeat to their old foes, Liverpool. Yes, he made errors but so did his defence… This will really affect a goalkeeper already short on confidence. Hats off to Michael Owen though who has come out and defended his keeper (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2093384/Michael-Owen-blasts-David-De-Gea-critics.html), as should the rest of his team and also the fans too.

This is a player who took the plaudits in 2009 after his debut in the UEFA Champions League and for his performance for Club Atl√©tico de Madrid’s in saving a penalty in their La Liga opening game (http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=901256.html). A player who was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011 after performing brilliantly for Spain in the Euro Under-21 cup winning team and described as ‚Äėone of brightest prospects in the game‚Äô (http://www.sportinglife.com/football/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=soccer/11/06/29/SOCCER_Man_Utd_Snap.html&BID=165). A signing for Manchester United, that made him the third most expensive keeper in the history of football.

Can he really go from hero to villain that quickly?

It has become so apparent if you study David de Gea that his confidence is low and in need of a much needed boost. As Paul Parker points out in his Eurosport Blog that not only can you see this complete lack of confidence, that he also looks lost… Well let’s face it he has taken on a lot of criticism, and it looks like it is really affecting him.

He‚Äôs not the first high profile keeper to receive such criticism, take our previous England keepers, Scott Carson, Paul Robinson, Robert Green and David James. All criticised for a mistake that cost us international matches and competitions, that let‚Äôs face it we only ‚Äėmay‚Äô have won, especially considering the level of the competition we would face‚Ķ Did we also criticise the fact that we didn‚Äôt score enough goals?

… And why does one of the Academy‚Äôs favourite player‚Äôs, David James have to have the label, ‚ÄėCalamity James‚Äô? When as a keeper he has kept a phenomenal amount of clean sheets… It‚Äôs a shame that a few bad mistakes (with some of them being made whilst he tried to compensate for a lack of defence), meant he gets such a poor nickname.

Yet unlike David de Gea, David James now shrugs off such criticism. And if he concedes a goal, you know it has annoyed him, but then he brushes it aside and refocuses ready for the next save…

As a goalkeeper you need to have a regime to be able to move on from a mistake.

My daughter used to be bothered by letting in goals too, as she would get too heavily focussed on keeping a clean sheet. Thus, when she let in a goal her head would drop…

…So we changed her motivation and praised her on performances. Stating that should may well concede goals and not to worry… just as long as she puts in the performance and tries to improve on the areas she needs too‚Ķ It has improved her as a keeper that she smiles after every match. I am just happier to see her acknowledge that she made a mistake and then to watch and see that she learns from this.

It just goes to show you the power of the mind!

David de Gea is only 21 and he has huge promise. I think we should cut him a little slack. It is unrealistic to heap pressure on one player as this is a team game after all…

As a final thought, consider David Coles philosophy: ‚ÄúOne save doesn‚Äôt make you a great goalkeeper, the same as one mistake doesn‚Äôt make you a bad one‚Äô. Very apt! ūüėČ

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