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Barclays Premier League
Wednesday, 2nd January 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Hasenhuttl Hails Gunn
Thursday, 3rd Jan 2019 09:13
Ralph Hasenhuttl has hailed the performance of Premier League debutant Angus Gunn after his clean sheet against Chelsea.
The Austrian manager surprised Saints fans when he handed a debut to Angus Gunn, but was it as much of a shock as some would have you believe, after all we paid somewhere around £12 million to Manchester City for the keeper and although chances at the Etihad were none existent, he did have a season at Norwich in the Championship under his belt, add to that three excellent games in the League cup and given his price tag it was only a matter of time before he was handed a debut, Saints didn't pay this amount of money for him to be back up for too long.
This is obviously a statement to Alex McCarthy, the euphoria of staying up last season led to some supporters hailing McCarthy as a hero and voting him player of the year, but in hindsight although he did have several outstanding games in the run in to the end of the season notably some vital saves in the wins again Bournemouth and Swansea as well as the draw at Everton, in the games prior to that Saints were appalling defensively and McCarthy was in truth not doing much better than Fraser Forster.
But it cannot be denied he was outstanding in those final few games and in fairness to Mark Hughes, even though the Gunn signing was lined up, he kept faith with McCarthy this season.
The result was that McCarthy has been Ok but not spectacular, the feeling has been that although he has not made many glaring errors that too many goals have been going in near to his body, that he was not producing enough saves out of the hat, Manchester United at home was evidence of that and when he got his positioning all wrong at Huddersfield you sensed that it would be sooner than later that Gunn would get his Premier League chance.
The defeat to Manchester City made me think that Gunn might be thrown in against Chelsea, the second two City goals on Sunday showed that McCarthy was not alert, the first was a cruel deflection and you can't really blame him,but this was the sort of reaction save that a top class keeper makes, not every time but some of the time and the second was just poor, it was again not an easy save, but the type that good keepers make.
Certainly McCarthy hasn't been the confident on his toes keeper that he was in those final games of last season, there will be several reasons for that, adrenalin is probably one and perhaps the weight of knowing that ultimately the club were not showing much faith by paying £12 million for Gunn was another, keepers thrive on confidence, McCarthy knew that it was perhaps only a matter of time before Gunn got his chance, some keepers respond to that challenge, others find it drains that confidence they need and I think for McCarthy it was the latter.
So throwing him in against Chelsea was not as big a shock as some would have you believe, after all Ralph Hasenhuttl has shown he is not afraid to throw in inexpeienced youngsters, so why should he be afraid to put in Gunn who has a fair bit more experience than some of those given a game in recent weeks.
Hasenhuttl has hailed Gunn after his performance against Chelsea.
“I think he did an amazing job.
“He is a very offensive defending goalkeeper and that is what I need against a team that is always playing the chipped balls behind the last line.
“I was aware of them and we knew that they have good deep runs and this ball is very hard to defend for centre backs so we need a keeper who is on the jump and defending forward, and there were a lot of situations where he saved the ball.
“He is a very talented goalkeeper and I want to give him two games. This was the first and the second is against Derby County in the FA Cup.
“I think he deserved to have a clean sheet.”
But the Austrian refused to confirm whether Gunn would be the permanent number one if he impresses again at Derby.
“I don’t think about this thing at the moment, we have other problems at the moment."
“We have fantastic goalkeepers and we have to look to get the points we really need.
Hasenhuttl has been very diplomatic here because on one hand because he knows that dropping McCarthy will have dented his confidence further and he never knows when he might need him again, although Gunn has now put in four decent performances for the club conceding only 1 goal that is only the start and about to turn 24 Gunn is still not the finished article.
Also Hasenhuttl has shown that no one is guaranteed a place in his team, he will pick teams to win against the opposition he is playing and reputation counts for nothing as was shown at half time at Stamford Bridge where Danny Ings was withdrawn, Hasenhuttl knew Ings had done little wrong, but he also knew that Shane Long would be better suited to the work rate needed to press and defend from the front, Ings might be far more likely to score than Long, but that would be of little use if we were 3-0 down.
After this display it is hard to see a way back for McCarthy, recent press reports have suggested that Saints are bracing themselves for a bid for McCarthy, I think they are not adverse to that bid and would snap someone's hands off at the the right price.
If they could get £10 million for McCarthy it would be good business and they could invest the money in other key areas and use Fraser Forster as back up and despite becoming a whipping boy for some Forster has been a good keeper for Saints in the past and could be again.
But the issue might be finding someone who would buy McCarthy, it is hard to see a Premier League team who would need him, most have keepers of at least equal standing if not better.
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