Fraser Forster ! His Confidence Is Restored.
Monday, 2nd Oct 2017 08:00
Fraser Forster came under fire last season and this season has also felt the brunt of Saints fans rage, however he has now proved that form is temporary and class is permanent.
When Fraser Forster's form started to drop in the second half of last season, many Saints fans were quick to jump on his back without really considering what any good keeper needs to show his true worth and that is a solid defence in front of him.
Forster's drop in form coincided with the final days of Jose Fonte at the club as well as the injury to Virgil Van Dijk, that meant that the central defensive pairing in front of him was arguably the weakest in the Premier League and as much as both Yoshida and Stephens gave 100% they were often found lacking and too many times left players with free chances in front of goal.
That was the case at Wembley when United's winner in the final minutes came when Ibrahimovic had a free header 7 yards out, there were many quick to blame Forster rather than the player who should have been picking him up.
That continued at the start of this season there were those who were literally ready to blame Forster for each and every Saints goal.
But they were being unfair, Forster was playing well as was shown by a clean sheet at Huddersfield and a great save against West Ham when he kept out a close range free header from Antonio although he could not do much about the rebound being thrashed home.
The arrival of Wesley Hoedt changed things, the defence looked better organised and this meant that Forster could concentrate on his own job rather than worry about his defence.
Against Crystal Palace Forster was outstanding and made two great saves, against Man Utd he did brilliantly to stop Lukaku's initial header but could do nothing with the rebound.
At Stoke City Forster was Saints man of the match especially in the first half, he made a string of great stops including a penalty save and looked very much back to his best.
But in these last three games it has been about more than just making saves, it has been about how he has conducted himself in doing the basic things that constitute 90% of a goalkeepers work, but are the most overlooked by the average fan who just judges a keeper on saves.
Forster has looked a lot better in commanding his box, coming and dealing with balls into the box and crosses, part of this is he now knows what his defenders are going to deal with and what they are not,that gives him confidence to do what he does well.
Antti Niemi is a good example of why you need to have an understanding with your defenders, Niemi was small in stature for a keeper, he was protected by his central defenders on crosses, they knew what he would come for and what he would not and it was a good partership.
In the second half of last season Saints lost the organisation in the back four, Yoshida is a 100% player, but he is not a leader of men or organiser, he is at his best when he plays alongside someone who talks him through a game and marshalls the defence, Stephens was not an organiser and he did not have the experience.
That meant that the two central defenders were not a good partnership in the second half of last season, they did not compliment each other and this meant that too often either they would both go for the same ball or even worse neither do so as was the case at the aforementioned winning goal at Wembley.
This is not good for any keeper, it means that suddenly they are having to go for balls that are really not theirs, they have to do so because the opponent has lost his man and the keeper has to do something, when he fails due to no fault of his own, many are quick to point the finger at him, although the truth is it is more about the error made further up the field.
This affects a keepers confidence, this position more than any other needs that !
The arrival of Hoedt sorted something out and meant that Forster can now concentrate on his on job rather than have to worry about others and have a starting position that has one eye on having to dash off his line because someone has left his man unmarked.
Hopefully now Fraser Forster can continue his career at Saints and people will get off his back and give him the chance to show that form is temporary and class permanent, even though it is down to injury his return to the England squad will boost him and that can only be good for Saints.
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