2018/19 Season Review - The Goalkeepers
Wednesday, 22nd May 2019 10:03
In the first of our end of season reviews we take a look at the goalkeepers and where we see the situation next season.
Saints used three goalkeepers over the season Alex McCarthy started in charge of the gloves, followed by Angus Gunn with Fraser Forster making a brief cameo appearance near the end of the season to perhaps indicate what might happen in the summer.
Alex McCarthy rightly started as first choice keeper back in August for his heroics at the end of 2017/18 season, in hindsight though when he had finally gained the number one spot in that season initially his performances had not been much different to Fraser Forster and it was only in the final few games that he like several others pulled their fingers out and it cannot be denied that McCarthy was immense with several world class saves and a superb game at Swansea.
However when Saints paid out £12 million for Angus Gunn you felt they had not done that to keep him on the bench. that he had barely played in his first couple of years at the club for a reason and the club knew something.
But he started the season and initially he started it fairly well, 2 clean sheets in the first 4 League games and only 3 goals conceded seemed to suggest that Saints had sorted out their defensive problems and McCarthy looked strong.
But perhaps things turned when we played Brighton at home, in that game he did not look so confident and when we blew a two goal lead you felt that he was not coming for crosses in the way he had been only a few months earlier at the end of the previous season.
The 3-0 defeat at Liverpool confirmed this, some of the defenders got the stick and rightly so, but he looked hesitant and should probably have stopped the Hoedt own goal.
In his defence he was playing behind a poorly organised back four, but for his part he did not take command of his area and became part of the problem not the solution.
Goalkeepers need confidence and you also have to enter in mitigation that apart from a poor defence, the spectre of Gunn on the bench did not help and he knew that Saints appeared to have no long term confidence in him otherwise they would not have spent big money on a young highly rated keeper.
His tenure as number one keeper effectively ended almost exactly a year after it started when he was dropped for the trip to Chelsea on January 2nd, however bizarrely he was reinstated but it was only a stay of execution and in his final few games he was a shadow of his former self and stayed rooted to his line too often.
His 25 appearances made him the keeper with the most games, but you have to feel that perhaps he will not be at the club next season.
Angus Gunn arrived with a good reputation and a solid season on loan at Norwich in the Championship behind him, there were few who thought he would step straight into the first team, but many felt that it would be sooner than later as Saints don't spent a reported £12 million just to sit a player on the bench for a season, the feeling was that it would only be a question of when.
As mentioned initially Alex McCarthy was OK and good performances by Gunn in the League cup suggested that he was getting near pushing for that first team spot.
When he made his Premier League debut at Chelsea he looked good and made several decent stops to keep our first clean sheet in over two months, you thought hs tie had arrived.
Strangely though he was dropped for the next League game and it would be another six weeks before he took over as the number one.
When he did though things looked up, in fairness the team was starting to play better, but he looked confident and assured and brought something to the defence that had been lacking, during games he looked happy to be there, relishing the challenge and not dreading what might happen next.
He played a decent role in Saints pulling clear of relegation and although he is still very much a work in progress give that he is still only just 23 which is young for a keeper and he has little experience, indeed only 12 top flight appearances for Saints, you feel he is the keeper gong forward and that he will only get better and more confident as he gets games under his belt.
The blip against Huddersfield in the final game was a mistake that he needed to make and better to make it in a game that meant nothing than in one with a lot more riding on it. He will learn from the experience.
I expect him to start as number one next season.
Fraser Forster was the forgotten man at St Mary's, people forget how good he could be till his confidence went and many will slag him off as a matter of course, in truth he really needs a change of club where he can make a fresh start, but his wages and length of contract mean that we can't move him on without a major pay cut and in fairness to him, there are few Premier League clubs at the moment that truly need a new first choice keeper and with Burnley having three and surely shipping at least one in the summer there are more than enough candidates for the few openings available.
So that being the case it is hard to shirt Fraser, if he is going to sit on the bench then he might as well get well paid for it.
Surprisingly he was back in the side for the trip to West Ham, it wasn't a triumph for him or the team, but his performance was not as bad as some would have you believe, we had shipped 3 goals in 5 of the games before the visit to the London Stadium, so there was an issue in defence before this one, Forster made several decent stops and although on the second goal some thought that he should have got the ball out of the danger area after saving it, some leeway should be given, he had made a decent save and this was his first game in 16 months, his sharpness was understandably missing.
Given that he is on large wages and we can't shift him I expect him to be still here next season and the back up to Angus Gunn, that is not a bad situation and a strong goalkeeping department, Forster is a good keeper, whether he will find the confidence again is a big question, but he does not deserve the fans on his back whilst he tries to regain his former glory, it served no one any good.
Saints need to shift a keeper and i think that Alex McCarthy is going to be the one to go, perhaps not completely on footballing reasons, but on practical ones, Saints should be able to find a club to take him and also get a reasonable fee perhaps £6 million and that will be a good amount into the transfer kitty.
I don't think that the goalkeepers will be an issue next season, Gunn backed up by Forster and with someone like Harry Lewis as third choice will be enough.
Photo: Action Images
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