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Big Chance For Fraser Forster This Week
Tuesday, 9th Feb 2021 12:39

If Ralph Hasenhuttl sticks to his statement that Fraser Forster would be his FA Cup goalkeeper, then the big stopper has an important moment in his season coming up against Wolves, with Alex McCarthy in a run of bad form he could wrest the number one spot from him.

Alex McCarthy has been out of sorts of late, it hasn't just been the number of goals that have been conceded, 12 in the last two Premier League games is not a great total for any keeper, even though there were issues beyond the control of McCarthy himself.

McCarthy's performances haven't been instilling confidence in his back four, Manchester United had only 14 shots on target, 9 of them went in, Newcastle had only 4 and in the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal the Gunners managed only 5 attempts on target.

At the moment it seems like everything that is on target goes in, I am not going to totally blame McCarthy for this, it has been a patched up defence, but this is a time when you need your goalkeeper to stand up and be strong and he hasn't done that.

His performance in any of those games was just not up to the standard required and questions about his kicking have again been called into question.

In hasn't just been the last few weeks, it's been there for a while, he just seems to be getting his angles wrong, two goals conceded in similar fashion at the near post for example.

But the worrying issue has been his decision making, against Newcastle it was the dying moments first half injury time, we weren't going to build from the back, sometimes you have to just whack the ball and he seems to be struggling with that.

To often he doesn't seem to have made his mind up straight away after the ball is passed back, he wants too long to make the decision and gets closed down, on Saturday he should have just walloped it but he was indecisive and got closed down meaning he gave Ryan Bertrand a suicide ball and instead of going in a goal behind, the task was made much harder in the second half.

So if Fraser Forster plays against Wolves it is a big moment in his season, he has the chance to gain back his first team place on a permanent basis at St Mary's for the first time since being dropped for McCarthy after a defeat to Spurs at Wembley at Xmas 2017.

Forster has played three games this season and kept three clean sheets, OK one of those was against Shrewsbury, but Liverpool and Arsenal were tough tests, the defence looked ore comfortable with him in goal, yes he was a little rusty, but the truth was the defence knew what he was going to do in any given situation, whether they had to defend a ball or whether he would deal with it.

Good goalkeepers do not dither, they know what they are going to do in any given situation and more importantly the players in front of that know too.

A good performance against Wolves in the cup will surely see him keep his place for the Premier League encounter at the weekend, if only for the fact that McCarthy has been so poor of late.

Going forward to next season though Saints have to find a new keeper, with his contract up I would be surprised if Forster stayed at St Mary's, Alex McCarthy has spent most of his career as a back up keeper, the last 15 months or so he has spent as number 1 at St Mary's has been his longest spell as an undisputed first choice in his career.

I feel that with McCarthy it is a concentration thing, a good keeper has to be able to focus and concentrate for the entire game even when the ball is up the other end of the pitch, some keeper have it, some don't, McCarthy's career stats suggest that he just doesn't have that trait needed to be a permanent first choice keeper.

Angus Gunn is on loan at Stoke City and after a time out with injury playing again, but is he the answer ? I'm not sure about that myself, although I do feel with some more experience under his belt and confidence restored he would be a better option than either of the two we have played this season.

But I think in the long term we need to bring in a new custodian between the sticks, although at this moment in time I am hard pressed to think who that could be.

In the meantime, Forster was outstanding at Celtic last season, Ok most of his games were not against great teams, but he showed he had the concentration in those games and when the big games came, whether against Rangers or in Europe he stepped up to the plate.

If Forster plays well against Wolves it may lead to a final swansong in the Saints goal for the rest of the season, that would be great because he deserves to be remembered with affection by the Saints supporters, not just for any performances he may turn in during the rest of this season, but for the time in his first years at the club where he played a big part in our top 8 finishes as well as a major cup final.

Photo: Action Images

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zonehead added 12:55 - Feb 9
The reason being for a goalie his size he should come for crosses which he doesn’t,and his distribution was poor, that must have been a rare photo you posted Nick

ElijahK added 13:05 - Feb 9
I mean McCarthy has been poor in goal recently, and as much as I like him and do certainly prefer his style/technique to Forster’s, but in the end McCarthy hasn’t been at his best recently and whenever Forster’s played, he’s done well. But look it’s now down to him and Ralph as if he plays well on Thursday then I can’t see why he shouldn’t be in goal for Sunday! Hopefully though he’ll have learnt from before that he does need to come out and get the ball and needs to pass it to a Southampton player, to be a decent goalie!

TimSaint added 13:31 - Feb 9
Don't McCarthy and FF both have another 18 months left on their respective contracts ?

Regardless of this, I am not sure either is the answer to our Keeper requirements and Gunn seems to be out of favour.

SanMarco added 13:38 - Feb 9
If we want a 'play out from the back' keeper then FF is no better!! McCarthy has had a bad run so if FF plays well on Thursday then no reason why he shouldn't stay for the league game...but that playing out from the back will have me hiding behind the sofa!!

saintmark1976 added 14:04 - Feb 9
Ralph Is not immune from criticism when it comes to the keepers because as SanMarco points out they are obviously coached to play out from the back whatever the situation in front of them.

As far as loss of confidence by McCarthy. I’m not in the least surprised given that Ralph made the same mistake playing United as he did against Leicester. When you are a man down early doors you play two banks of four with a man up to provide a pressure relieving get out ball. That way the keeper has some form of protection and you don’t lose 9-0 twice within fifteen months.

schatfield added 15:12 - Feb 9
I wonder if Forster was a vampire in a former life, because he hates crosses!

underweststand added 15:17 - Feb 9
What ever you say about " confidence ".. etc, the 0-9 v MU was a kick up the backside for the team , not least McCarthy, even if he wasn't totally at fault for everything, but then came the catastrophic 3rd goal v Newcastle, which never should have happened.

Forster was in real state after the 2-5 defeat to Spurs a few years back, and Angus Gunn's interview for a Stoke paper told his side of the story and the after effects on confidence.
I think all three need to be "more mobile and demonstrative" . To shout and be heard, (type Shilton or Niemi), but none of them seems to call / talk / shout at their defenders.

Ralph has said that Forster is to be his " Cup goalie " and so he must be the choice for Thursday, and with 3 clean sheets so far he's the obvious choice. If he continues in that vein, the real question must be .. Is he ready to take over the No.1 spot from McCarthy,? - at least in the near future.

perazi added 22:09 - Feb 9
Ask yourself this. If Forster had played against Villa, Man U or Newcastle, would the scoreline have been any more favourable towards Saints? I don't think so. The three clean sheets need a bit of contextualising all three games, Forster had virtually nothing to do, even against Liverpool. McCarthy may have made recent errors but fundamentally his technique is much superior to FF. Play Forster in the Cup by all means, but to think he's in sparkling form and going to be our Messiah is stretching credulity.

NewburySaint added 17:39 - Feb 10
I must admit I didn’t think I would ever say this again but I think he has to play over McCarthy in the league as well as long as he isn’t woeful tomorrow.

I don’t know what it is about him but clean sheets seem to follow him-I don’t think he looked particularly great in the 3 games he has played this season but the results speak for themselves. I think it’s more that the defence know they need to play really, really well with FF behind them but it works.

Don’t expect his kicking/distribution to be any better than AM though...

Gunn isn’t the answer either.

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