Alex McCarthy Or Fraser Forster Is Becoming A Nice Problem To Have For Ralph
Monday, 25th Jan 2021 12:36
Alex McCarthy looks likely to return for Southampton when they play Arsenal at St Mary's for the second time in four days on Tuesday evening, but after another clean sheet for Fraser Forster Ralph Hasenhuttl has a nice problem on his hands.
Ironically at a time when Ralph Hasenhuttl is struggling for cover in some positions, he has now found that in goal he has the choice of two goalkeepers capped by England whilst at the club.
Alex McCarthy has been number one choice this season and had played every game up until the start of January when he was forced to self isolate after catching Covid 19.
In stepped Fraser Forster for the game against Liverpool and the big keeper put in a good performance to keep a clean sheet in a backs to the wall victory, McCarthy returned for the trip to Leicester City, but with two FA Cup ties in the space of a few days it was Forster who played in both of them and seemed to be getting his confidence back after that solid Liverpool run out, again keeping a clean sheet.
At the moment Ralph has made it clear who is the number one saying :
“Forster deserves now to be our cup goalkeeper now, I think. He has helped us through to the next round and he has another clean sheet too – he is doing a fantastic job.
“We have two really good goalkeepers so there is no reason why I shouldn’t trust him again.
“The goalkeepers are getting better and better. They’re coming along really strongly and the praise goes to my goalkeeper coach and the good work that he does.”
So it is expected that Alex McCarthy will step back between the sticks for the visit of Arsenal in the League on Tuesday night and indeed is likely to hold that position going forward in the Premier League with Forster being benched until the home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup provisionally on Saturday 13th February.
But McCarthy will now have to be on his game for the three games in between and for the first time in 15 months since he took over from Alex Gunn he has serious competition for his place.
Forster has kept three straight clean sheets and although one of the was against League One Shrewsbury, the other two have been against two tough teams in Champions Liverpool and in form Arsenal.
There will be those who are uncharitable who will say that he didn't have a lot to do in either of those games, but the fact is what he did have to do he did well and his confidence seems to be rising.
Indeed sometimes for a keeper it is not always about the saves you make, but the way you go about things, yes neither Arsenal or Liverpool had many shots on target for him to save , but it could also be said the defence looked a lot more comfortable with him behind them, they seemed to know what balls he would come and collect and those he wouldn't and that meant they knew what they needed to deal with and what they didn't.
That sounds an obvious thing to say, but the best keepers are not always the best all rounders, Antti Niemi was a great shot stopper but not great on coming for crosses beyond his six yard box, but our defenders knew that and got the job done.
That was the case on Saturday against the Gunners, Forster did not come off his line for crosses much, but he was big and strong behind his defence.
At this moment in time no one is saying that Alex McCarthy should be dropped, but for 15 months he has almost been undroppable due to there being no effective back up with first Angus Gunn and then Fraser Forster being suspect due to low confidence.
Now Forster is back after a great year at Celtic and ready to step in if McCarthy doesn't play to the highest standards, that has to be good for the team and hopefully he will push the current number one all the way and up both their games .
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #35 by wessex_exile
As many were predicting, time finally ran out for Steve Ball mid-week, after the U’s lost 2-1 at home to Exeter City. Although a considerable improvement in score-line compared to the 6-1 thrashing they handed out at St James Park earlier in the season, apart from the first 10-15 minutes and very brief glimpses throughout the remainder of the game, it was a poor performance, leaving Robbie Cowling with no choice. After a brief interlude, Robbie named Wayne Brown as our new Interim Head Coach (that’s caretaker as far as I’m concerned), and after an even briefer interlude, Robbie and Wayne in a joint statement put to rest any lingering concerns about Wayne’s attitude to race. If Wayne can show the same sort of leadership on the training ground and in the dressing room as he used to show for the U’s on the pitch, I am certain he’s going to do very well in the job.
Letters from Wiltshire #34 by wessex_exile
I won’t dwell on Robbie’s latest message to the supporters – we’ve all read it, and we’ve all probably drawn our own conclusions about what it doesn’t say as much as what it does. To me, bottom line, I suspect the clock is now ticking for Steve Ball (at least), turn around this terrible form pretty damn quick, or start clearing out your locker. Regardless of personal opinions on any of the individuals concerned, I would like to think none of us actually wants to see people made redundant in the current climate. But, these are difficult times that require tough decisions. If Steve Ball is up to the job and can turn this around, I’ll be more than happy to support him. If he’s not, he has to go before irreparable harm is done…and we all know what that will look like, we’ve been there before…
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
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