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 😉
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.
Bernard Day, Senior Goalkeeper Coach at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy.
Qualified to UEFA B And FA B Football and Goalkeeping coach.
A highly experienced coach, who was a professional Goalkeeper.
Provided coaching for many professional clubs such as Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United, Manchester City, Walsall, and Hereford United. As well as coaching for schools and community coaching schemes.
Having worked and played with some of this countries best talent understands that coaching needs to be relevant to the player, the situation and today’s game.
Bernard’s aim therefore is to coach Goalkeepers the right way of doing things. Where his philosophy is simply to help Goalkeepers keep the ball out of the back of the net!
So the Premiership is bad for English football? That English football clubs are damaging the England team, with them bringing talent in from abroad rather than develop or look to bring in home-grown talent?
OK, certain rules are now in place and there is an expectancy for top level clubs to develop their own players. However, doesn’t it seem that things are changing naturally anyway, that our English keepers are slowly being seen on the big stage as some of the best in the world. Talented keepers previously overlooked like Ben Foster (previously posted about) of West Bromwich Albion and Joe Hart of Manchester City, who went to other clubs to show that they should be first choice keepers. With some now citing Joe Hart as being one of the best keepers in the world!
Where as in previous years the press were questioning our goalkeeping talent as not matching that of other countries, including that of current world champions Spain, that now we have a pool of talented keepers that are getting themselves recognised on the biggest stages, through international, premiership and cup competition matches. With the Cup competitions also elevating the talent that is emerging in the lower leagues. Talent that includes Tom Heaton of Cardiff City (previously posted about) and that of Frankie Fielding the bright prospect at Derby County and already in the England U21 set up.
Also consider Jack Butland of Birmingham City, who like Ben Foster and Joe Hart has gone out on loan to get first team action at Cheltenham Town. That from his incredible displays for Cheltenham, has now being noticed by the Premier League, being linked to Arsenal and Tottenham. This shows that the search for talent is not always abroad, but local too. He has also represented England at every level up to the Under 21s! [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2116662/Jack-Butland-wanted-Arsenal.html#ixzz1pTZ0VtLS ]
For me, all this shows that we have much to look forward to with England. With our current crop of keepers, those waiting in the wings and of the development of the next talent through the expansion of top-level development or at goalkeeper specific centres (like that of our own Academy), the future for England goalkeeping most definitely is much brighter than ever before!
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!