I have grown up supporting a team I watched as a young boy and that support has never wavered through both the good and bad times of football, I have been there through thick and thin. However even though I am an avid supporter of my club I do look out for the results of certain other teams, whether that be because I have friends or relatives who support them, or in the case of Barcelona, because of the number of great holidays to this beautiful part of the world, almost making Barcelona feel like a second home. That coupled with my good understanding of the Spanish language allowing me to read a good chunk of the words in the Spanish press, especially my favourite paper the Sport (This is not in any way the same as the UK boob filled newspaper, this is actually about sport!) allows me to follow Barcelona in more ways than one. Not just from reading the papers whilst on holiday, but also through their App and Facebook site, meaning I am flooded with information on the team, giving me yet more reasons to practice my Spanish whilst reading about the latest rumours in the Barcelona camp.
When it comes to rumours, often the Sport out-trumps our press. They called it right on the transfers of Thierry Henry, David Villa and most recently Alex Song from Arsenal. So as a fan of Goalkeeping a number of stories recently have really caught my eye… That Victor Valdes is not looking to renew his contract with Barcelona when it expires in 1.5 years.
The UK press are all over this story too, already throwing names in the frame as their own potential ‘Exclusives’. With one rumour being that Liverpool and Barcelona could be looking to do a swap for Spain’s 2nd choice goalkeeper, Valdes, for Spain’s 3rd choice keeper, Pepe Reina. Which would make sense as Reina was a former Barcelona scholar and would probably like a return. However, when you read the Spanish press there is a different name being touted, one which make’s more sense, Thibaut Courtois.
Courtois, is someone Barcelona have been able to see up close, from his time on loan from Chelsea in La Liga at Atletico Madrid. Seeing Courtois in very impressive form… Last season (2011-2012) saw him keep 23 clean sheets 52 appearances for Atletico Madrid and this season (2012-2013) to date he has kept 14 clean sheets in 24 games! No wonder he appears to have caught their eye, and no wonder why Chelsea want to hold contract talks with him… However, even though this impressive form ought to see him get more first team appearances with his current employer on his return from loan, there is the issue of the also impressive Petr Cech being in his way. With Cech as the first choice keeper, would Courtois really be happy as the second choice, when this Summer he could be guaranteed first team action? All of which means there is a lot more to this rumour than just paper talk…
It will be a shame for Barcelona to lose Valdes, who according to the Sport will be sold in the Summer. He has been such a great Goalkeeper for them over the many years as their number 1. Indeed, he has had his low points, his critics and dropped the odd clanger, but which keeper hasn’t (including those at the highest level). His stats over the years show that he deserves the praise and recognition he is getting. Most notably his best form was in 2007, when he entered the Barcelona record books after not conceding a goal for 466 minutes, followed by winning the best goalkeeper in Spain in the 2008-2009 season beating the Spanish 1st Choice Goalkeeper Iker Casillas – some feat. It is part of the reason why Barcelona will remain fond of him. I wish him well and perhaps maybe… he will decide to come to the Premiership. If so then I for one can’t wait to see him in action! 😉
The Goalkeepers to Watch in this tournament (if they get their chance)… A quick guide to the Goalkeepers at Euro 2012
PART THREE – GROUP C
Stipe Pletikosa, FC Rostov, Age 33 – Squad Number 1 – 91 senior international appearances prior to this tournament
Ivan Kelava, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Age 24 – Squad Number 12 – 0 international appearances
Danijel Subašić, Monaco, Age 27 – Squad Number 23 – 4 international appearances
Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus, Age 34 – Squad Number 1 – 114 international appearances
Salvatore Sirigu, Paris St Germain, Age 25 – Squad Number 12 – 3 international appearances
Morgan De Sanctis, Napoli, Age 35 – Squad Number 14 – 5 international appearances
Republic of Ireland
Shay Given, Aston Villa FC, Age 36 – Squad Number 1 – 122 international appearances
Kieran Westwood, Sunderland FC, Age 27 – Squad Number 16 – 10 international appearances
David Forde, Milwall FC, Age 32 – Squad Number 23 – 2 international appearances
Iker Casillas, Real Madrid, Age 31 – Squad Number 1 – 131 international appearances
Victor Valdes, Barcelona, Age 30 – Squad Number 12 – 8 international appearances
Pepe Reina, Liverpool, Age 29 – Squad Number 23 – 25 international appearances
This group boast a lot of experience Goalkeepers with all the teams Number 1’s having over 90 caps each. Will experience count? Or will we see more un-characteristic mistakes from the more experienced? So will any of these be your pick of the tournament…
So in previous posts we have looked at bravery, either that of communication or that needed during a game to make that catch surrounded by players and from diving at feet. As mentioned many times before being brave and confident is hard for any player as there are many things that can affect confidence, as that is the fragility of the mind – that one little thing could be the cause of poor confidence… Or that said, it may be a little thing to you or I but a massive issue to the person in question.
We as coaches train for many different scenarios to help our Goalkeeper students, through practical or fun exercises and confidence building motivational speak. However no coach can predict or prevent what will happen in a Goalkeeper’s mind during a game. Especially in situations where your student Goalkeeper is fetching the ball out of the back of the net on more than one occasion through the match. Couple that with the unforeseen reaction of not only their own but those around them (players and coaches) and there is always the potential that confidence either is or starts to get affected.
We asked our Goalkeepers at the Academy, how they react after a goal goes in the back of the net and we had back some interesting answers. Some punch the floor, some shout and scream at themselves or their players, some just get upset. Let’s face it, it is hard for any Goalkeeper, but more so for a young student Goalkeeper as they want so much to be good at Football! Our Keepers do get upset. We have seen examples, where after say the third goal scored against them, that their heads drop and they are uninterested in the game. Yes, I understand that there could be other factors of heads dropping as I previously explored, but no Goalkeeper really likes to concede a goal. After all look at the reaction of any Goalkeeper out there who keeps a clean sheet, they are on cloud 9…
So it does seem that coaches and Goalkeepers have a mountain to climb when it comes to Goalkeeping confidence, because as already mentioned, the mind is a powerful thing. But don’t get downhearted, this mountain is scalable… Confidence can be affected, but you as Goalkeepers have the power to improve not only your skills but your confidence too (which will lead to you being a better Goalkeeper!). Remember:
- Conceding goals happens – You can try to save everything, but there are going to be those goals that not even the best goalkeepers in the world can stop;
- Try and save everything – At least have a go… you may only kick yourself that you didn’t try! You never know you may just actually save it;
- Focus on developing your skills – don’t focus on keeping a clean sheet (see point 1), focus on, for example, improving your positioning or handling during the game;
- Set realistic targets – If you say you are going to look at improving handling, don’t set yourself a target to catch every ball, that your handling will be 100% good. Try and set a target based on little improvements;
- Know what you can improve on – It is good to acknowledge what you need to improve on as you can focus on this and more importantly feed this back to the coach, as they can then devise training sessions to help focus on these improvements;
- Know what you did well – don’t just focus on improvements, remember to also HIGHLY PRAISE what you did well. It is great to understand what you did well because in each match you will do things right and you must remember to acknowledge it.
- Ensure you have support – You as a Goalkeeper want to improve and those around you should be encouraging your development (especially if they are following FA standards). If you aren’t don’t be afraid to speak up or seek help. If you have set your sights on improving as a Goalkeeper, I applaud you and want you to achieve your aims of improvement. Please don’t get upset and walk away from something you want to do, get help on it and help to do it better!
Yes confidence is a mountain to climb but you have the ability to climb to the summit. Let me know how you get along on your journey up the rock face! 😉