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Gunn Or McCarthy ?
Friday, 18th Oct 2019 10:18

There is speculation about whether Angus Gunn may be rested at Wolves on Saturday and Alex McCarthy brought back in to the team, here we take a look at the situation.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has dropped hints that he may restore Alex McCarthy to the Saints goal for the trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers, but is that the answer to Saints problems at the back or not here we assess the situation.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has commented about his goalkeepers and whether there will be a switch:

“I think the last games from Angus haven’t been the best so far.

“I think he has shown this season a few important games for us where he kept clean sheets and saved us points for sure.

“I am in the good position that I have two goalkeepers that are on the same level.

“They both show that they can play good games. Alex had very good body language and a clean sheet in the cup game.

“The good thing for me is that I want, in every position, to have a battle as to who is going to play to decide it.:"

“I will have a look. No position when you are in is forever. I have the chance to change and it’s up to me whether I do it.”

But Ralph also stated that he is in a good position as he has two capable keepers.

“I have trust in both goalkeepers.

“I know they can both keep clean sheets and have fantastic games, but there are also moments for them where it doesn’t work perfectly.

“Then I have to have a look to decide if I want to give the other once a chance or not.”

The first thing I am going to say about the situation is that with the state of our defence at the moment, I am not sure that it would make much difference who is in goal, time and time again this season the keeper has been left exposed by poor marking and our ability to let the opposition get time to pick their spot.

As Ralph has said, both have performed well this season, Gunn is getting some stick at the moment in some quarters, but some have short memories, at Sheffield United only four league games ago he was in fine form and his performance contributed to the victory, he started the season well and it has only been in the last three games that he has gone to pieces.

McCarthy has kept two clean sheets this season, but both have been in cup games against sides that have been in lower divisions, certainly against Pompey he made one excellent save at 0-0 but aside from that had little else to do, so judging him against a League 1 attack is not a good benchmark.

I think both have the ability to make some good saves, but I don't think this is the issue, the need at the moment is for some stability and organisation at the back.

From this respect then perhaps McCarthy could be the man to bring in, people forget that at 23, a young age for a keeper Angus Gunn is still learning and finding his feet, he is not getting the benefit of doing that easily with the central defence he has in front of him, no matter who has played at the back, he has been constantly exposed and that is not a good grounding for a keeper.

He has still only played 20 games in the Premier League plus one season in the Championship for Norwich and that is perhaps not enough experience to get him through this period and indeed help his defence get through it, if we leave him in it could set him back years.

On the other hand Alex McCarthy has age on his side, turning 30 in December he should be at his peak as a goalkeeper, but his experience at Premier League level is little more than Gunn's, when he joined Saints in the summer of 2016 he had played only 23 Premier League games in his career, he has added 43 since, but that is still only the equivalent of two seasons and at his age it should be more.

His goalkeeping career has been more about being a back up, he has only completed a full season within the sticks twice, once in League one for Yeovil in 2009/10 and then again for Reading in 2013/14 in the Championship, aside from this he has only played sporadically in most seasons, the last two at Saints with 19 & 25 respectively being as good as it gets and representing nearly a quarter of his entire League starts of 188.

When he came in for Fraser Forster in 2017/18 season initially he was no better than Forster, we were conceding just as many goals in much the same way, but he was undoubtedly magnificent at the end of that season in 3 of the last four games, when we played Bournemouth, Everton and Swansea away.

But last season he could not replicate that form, at least not on a regular basis, hence he was dropped for Gunn in the second half of the season, this perhaps points to the reason as to why he has rarely ever been considered a first choice keeper at any of the club's he has been at.

He has the ability, but he does not have the drive and determination needed to maintain a high level week in week out, in that respect he is not alone, there are plenty of keepers who make a better living being on the bench of a Premier League club than they would paying week in week out in the Championship.

Perhaps this gets them into a routine they cannot get out of, it is a mind set that prevents the man becoming the keeper he could be.

So I would state here that I do not think Alex McCarthy is the long term solution to the problem whereas Angus Gunn probably could be, older readers will recall that Tim Flowers took several seasons at the Dell before truly establishing himself in the first team, Gunn has to learn his trade and is still young enough to do so.

But having said this, I think that Saturday could be the time to bring in McCarthy, in the short term he is more experienced than Gunn to deal with the issues our goalkeeper will have to deal with, no matter who that keeper is.

McCarthy could perhaps add a bit of stability in the short term, Gunn needs a rest, he needs to be taken out of the firing line before his confidence is shot, just as Fraser Forster's was after the departure of both Van Dijk and Fonte.

The long term solution to our problems is more to do with the defence in front of the keeper, just as Che Adams had to be rested, I think Gunn needs a break as well before the fans get on his back and destroy his confidence completely.

McCarthy is old enough to take it, this is the job he had done countless times over the years, come n short term when the first choice is either injured or loses form.

History shows that he never quite establishes himself as the number one, he can't maintain his standards for long periods, but short term he can do a job.

That time is now in our season i'm afraid, we need him to come in till January and perform a thankless task, perhaps a change of keeper will transform our defence, but we have to do something different and this is one thing we can do.

So yes I would replace Angus Gunn, I don't see it as particularly long term, perhaps it won't be a full season, if we can shore up our defence in January then we can consider the return of Gunn or indeed if McCarthy keeps his form then we will truly have keepers vying for the number one spot, something we haven't had until the arrival of Gunn at the start of last season.

So what is your opinion Gunn Or McCarthy ?

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saintmark1976 added 11:25 - Oct 18
Starting with the defeat at home by Bournemouth the team selection by the manager has been beyond my comprehension, and I suspect many other season ticket holders also.Tomorrow is an opportunity for Ralph to put out a sensible team. Hopefully it won't include Gunn, JWP or Redmond. Gunn because of his recent "rush of blood" moments.JWP because he has lost all semblance of his brief good form from last season and Redmond because regretfully he has no "footballing brain" whatsoever.

codge added 13:10 - Oct 18
'As long as we have the same people in defense in front of either of them we will be getting the same performances.We have had at least two summer transfer windows and winter ones and screwed ourselves royaly. Having said that it's time for McCarthy to return before Gunn loses his confidence as Forster did.

underweststand added 15:02 - Oct 18
Where's the discussion?..
McCarthy should take the role..and now.

Angus Gunn is a good prospect but playing in the Championship and at U23 level are in a totally different class. He will come good in time, but he needs to move up a level until he's good enough to regain his place in our Prem side. McCarthy has experience and should be given a good run of games - especially as our other senior keeper is enjoying his life back north of the border.

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