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Ralph Hasenhuttl Reveals Strange Goalkeeper Rotation Strategy
Sunday, 2nd May 2021 09:27

Alex McCarthy was one of the stars of the draw with Leicester City on Friday night, but it seems he will not be in the Southampton goal for the trip to Liverpool on Saturday night with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl revealing that he will impose a rotation strategy till the end of the season.

Some said that Ralph Hasenhuttl hadn't got a plan B as Saints struggled through an awful New Year run of defeats, but with players returning from injury he has shown he is willing to change things and that he is now planning for next season.

Eyebrows were raised a couple of weeks ago when Alex McCarthy returned to the Saints goal for the visit to Tottenham Hotspur, Fraser Forster had been playing well since returning to the side and had done nothing wrong in the FA Cup semi final defeat to Leicester City at Wembley.

But it seems that McCarthy's return to the team is only fleeting as Ralph has revealed that Forster will return at Anfield on Saturday to face Liverpool, but his tenure in goal will be just as fleeting as his rivals, he will play two games and McCarthy will then return for the nest two.

The Austrian manager had this to say after the Leicester game:

"It was a great performance," said a happy Hasenhuttl, impressed with both McCarthy's footwork and his reflex saves against Leicester.

"I want to give both keepers a chance to play, each 'keeper will get two games so Fraser Forster will play the next two games, because I want to give him a chance to play.

"He did well today, Alex. I think they both deserve to play,"

"They've both been important and they've both shown that they can be good goalkeepers for us."

With relegation worries now all but banished, Hasenhuttl has to look towards next season and decide whether he has the answer to his goalkeeping problems at the club or if he has to look elsewhere in the summer.

He is therefore giving both the chance to push each other and make their case to be the number 1.

As a temporary test for the keepers this is fine, but you would hope that it is not something that would be carried into next season , goalkeepers more than any other position have to have continuity and form partnerships with their defenders, both McCarthy & Forster have different strengths and weaknesses, defenders need to know what the keeper behind them will do in any given situation and don't want the complications in the heat of the moment of having to remember whether this is the keeper who will come or stay on his line in a situation, a split second can cost goals.

Photo: Action Images

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halftimeorange added 10:22 - May 2
Oh, for another Antti Niemi. If either of these two would cut out the short passes to defenders when its dangerous (but, they're probably under instruction to build from the back) and improve their kicking so every other long ball doesn't find touch, then that's my man because there isn't much to choose between them.

KohSamuiSaints added 11:00 - May 2
Personally I would like to see Jack Butland come to the Club ... He has the ability that both of our current goalkeepers have in one keeper ...I also thought that Antti Niemi was our best goalkeeper in a long long time , until I saw his performance away to Portsmuff ... after that one game I never rated him again ...
Peter Shilton was in my opinion our best goalkeeper ever at Southampton FC ...

SanMarco added 11:21 - May 2
Ralph needs to decide which of the two is the number one, or indeed whether neither of them is. Now we are as good as safe rotation seems as good a way as any.

The best GK performance I have seen for Saints was Kelvin D at Leeds; the best GK overall has to be Shilton and honourable mentions for Flowers and Niemi (just bad luck he had an off day in a horror show - by the whole team - at Poopey.)

A1079 added 11:21 - May 2
I suppose given where we are in the season and relegation fight it is probably ok but not quite sure what is gained from it.

In general, like Nick, I don't think goalkeeper rotation works and that with the defence should be a joint area of stability and continuity so that the relationship and understanding can become established.

I have to say, that both Fraser and Alex have never completely convinced me. They are both ok but you wouldn't bet your mortgage on either of them. Both have their shortcomings which show up all too often but equally can pull off that great save or have that great game. As someone else has said, no one has ever really matched Peter Shilton but I am not sure there is anyone in England at the moment that equals the era of Shilton, Clemence, Corrigan and Jennings.

Saintaxidriver added 11:31 - May 2
As others have mentioned both are good keepers on their day but neither are matchwinners like for example Martinez at Villa and neither is very good with the ball at their feet. I would look to sell them both and bring in someone who can make a difference week in week out.

Crispinmumbles added 11:56 - May 2
Rotating your goalkeepers does not constitute a 'plan B'.

SaintPaulVW added 12:48 - May 2
Fixed rotation is just kicking the can down the road. Having a number one and the number 2 pressing to take their place is where we want to be.

corkcitysaint added 14:56 - May 2
Both keepers seem to be more prone to errors per game than other keepers out there. Admittedly, I watch our own more than others but they also seem to be "too quiet" You never see them giving the defence a rollicking over poor defending. The triangle of keeper + 2 centre halves communication is crucial. You have to have a leader or commander within that and sadly, we don't have that since Fonte / Van dijk. I'd be surprised if 2 out of our 3 main keepers were here next season.

YosemiteSaint added 06:00 - May 3
Ralph's rotation scheme is not what it seems on the surface—it's about finding out who goes and who stays (perhaps as back-up) for next year. I'd like to see Saints sign a steady keeper on whom to rebuild our defense, and neither Foster nor McCarthy fit such billing.

underweststand added 09:14 - May 3
Finding dependable keepers is always difficult and the most successful ones in the last 30 years can be counted on one hand. Clearly massive defeats have a profound effect on confidence, as when Forster conceded 5 when Tottenham beat us at Wembley, and Gunn was on the end of the disasterous SMS game v. Leicester last season. Forster's sojourn with Celtic renewed his confidence, whilst McCarthy went through a nightmare this spring. Ralph is surely looking to tie down a couple of names he feels can DAJFU longer term, and the fact that both AM and FF are over 30 is not an issue in a league where 35 is often still a prime age for keepers.
Ralph's quandary is ..Do I keep them both or if not, who will go especially as ..on recent form ..FF has looked the better of the two. Clearly Angus Gunn's signing didn't live up to expectations and it may be several years yet before he can show his true talent, and keeping him longer will be expensive and not positive for his long term development.

I agree with others (above) that the defence is a unit, and although various individuals maybe good "on their day" we lack the cohesion of a back line that works well together.
Individual talent certainly exists, but there's no place for "square pegs" or sentimentality in picking a side that is built to last. Whoever Ralph decides to carry on with, there is still the question of who forms the defence in a side that has concede so badly this season.

In the few remaining games, the choice of keepers may be the least surprising as a few others will need to convince Ralph of their talent, or it will be..."my way, or the highway".


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