Hasenhuttl Has Big Goalkeeping Decision To Make For Liverpool Game
Wednesday, 24th Nov 2021 09:13
After the defeat at Norwich City saw Alex McCarthy let in two goals he really should have stopped, Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has a big call to make ahead of the trip to Anfield on Saturday.
At the start of the season for many Saints supporters Ralph Hasenhuttl made the wrong call in selecting Alex McCarthy for the number one spot in his team, in the second half of last season he had been replaced by Fraser Forster who had put in a string of good performances before strangely the manager introduced a goalkeeping rotation system in the final half dozen or so games.
That rotation system continued in the pre season and the verdict from most Saints supporters ahead of the Premier League kick off was that Forster had been the better keeper with McCarthy still looking hesitant and error prone.
But it was Alex McCarthy who started at Everton and Fraser Forster who sat on the bench, Saints led at half time but in the second half conceded three and questions were asked of the keeper on two of the goals and some, a little harshly in my opinion also criticised him for the other goal conceded.
In the second game again many thought he should have done better as Manchester United equalised in a 1-1 draw and likewise at Newcastle United.
In the 4th game he found his form a little and in the next three games we only conceded 1 goal and he looked to have found a bit of form again, but at Chelsea the old demons reared their head again and although there were no glaring errors in that and subsequent games there were those that felt that he should have done a little better.
In the meantime Fraser Forster had played only three games all in the League cup and in the draw at Chelsea he was outstanding.
I said back at the start of the season that I felt one weak area was the goalkeeping, Alex McCarthy on his day can be an outstanding keeper, but he has spent most of his career as a back up, that is why he originally arrived at St Mary's in 2016 and in his time here, so far he has never spent an entire season as undisputed number 1.
There is something about his game, perhaps from spending most of his career on the bench that leads to a lack of concentration, he has a short life span of games and then his performance levels drop.
At Norwich that proved to be the case, the Canaries had only 4 shots on target, but 2 of them went in, both at McCarthy's left hand and near post and both should have been saved, he did make a decent save on one of the other shots, but the truth is that both this season and previous ones his saves to shots ratio is far too low.
Some Saints supporters blamed the defeat on poor substitutions, but although there was a baffling change or two, the truth was we dominated the game and never looked like losing it till we conceded the second goal and by then it was too late.
Good goalkeeper do their job in situations like these, they make the saves they should make and sometimes those they shouldn't get near, they win you points and turn seasons, in this case if Alex had made the two saves he should have we would be 8th.
This is not a knee jerk reaction to a disappointing defeat, as I have mentioned the historical data is there, Alex McCarthy as a back up keeper is spot on, he can come on and put in some great performances, but he just can't do it over a long span of games, only twice in his career has he gone an entire season as number 1, the first back in 2009/10 for Yeovil on loan in League one and the second in 2013/14 for Reading in the Championship, that is two seasons out of the 13 full seasons so far he could have done and to be brutal it doesn't look like he will make it 3 out of 14.
This is his sixth season at St Mary's he has yet to be completely convincing for a long period in any of them and turning 32 in a week or so he is not one for the future.
Saints are being linked with Sam Johnstone of West Bromwich Albion and also whispers of Dean Henderson from Manchester United on loan, for me something needs to be done in January with Henderson on loan looking the most likely there.
But in the short term Ralph has a dilemma, as we go to Anfield we cannot afford another goalkeeping performance like the one at Norwich, but it is not clear cut, do you take the view that we will probably lose anyway and keep McCarthy in and hope that with so much to do he will find his form, and if he doesn't then you can throw in Fraser Forster for the Leicester game with his confidence high.
Or do you make the change now, Forster has a history of good games and indeed clean sheets against Liverpool both at Anfield and also last season at St Mary's.
It is a difficult call for Ralph Hasenhuttl but it is one that he has to make, I feel that McCarthy will keep his place for the trip to Anfield, Ralph will consider that this was one bad game after 4 good ones, but that is only the short picture, the bigger one is that the difference between us and the sides in the top 10 at the moment isn't poor substitutions or even a lack of goals, its the soft goals that we have let in, a Premier League goal keeper will make mistakes, the difference between the best and worst is how many mistakes in a season.
Some would say that 3 or 4 errors in a season would be par for a keeper in the Premier League, thats one in every 10 games, at the moment we have had perhaps 5 in 12 and that is far too high.
This is a problem that needs addressing, in the long term we are hampered by the wages of both Forster and McCarthy, we cannot afford to get in a new number 1 until one of them leaves and that looks like being Forster in the summer, but until then we have to manage the situation and this is what will define this season.
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