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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the wrong call in selecting Alex McCarthy for the number one spot in his team, in the second half of last season he had been replaced by Fraser Forster who had put in a string of good performances before strangely the manager introduced a goalkeeping rotation system in the final half dozen or so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.

Who do you think should be in goal at Liverpool ? Vote now in our poll using the link below.


Photo: Action Images

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underweststand added 09:54 - Nov 24
When we see McCarthy as first name on the team sheet every game we have to ask ourselves...is this Ralph's sole decision alone, or is it financial from the Board?

Much has been written about the huge salary that Les Reed agreed when Forster was given a new contract way back when, but clearly that horrible defeat (2-5) by Spurs at Wembley clearly affected FF afterwards when he didn't play for a year, and as second keeper McCarthy came into the reckoning. Aside from everyone who says what a nice fella Alex really is, he is the last line of defence and has been responsible for many of the goals we have conceded since.

Has Ralph's loyalty to his first choice (Alex) blinded him to Forster better qualities as GK.?
Is there a personal problem between them (?) or will Ralph stand by Alex - no matter what? Clearly the new " slimline Fraser" looks sharper and much better than he was previously, but having accepted that FF will leave (for nothing) in the summer, it leaves us with the obvious fact that McCarthy will be first-choice keeper in the immediate future.

All keepers make good saves periodically (and to his credit AM has made a few this season already) but Norwich's two goals can hardly be blamed solely on the defenders in front of him. Too often he looks like the rabbit trapped in the headlights, and sadly doesn't look convincing to me. Unless Ralph / the club is willing to continue paying FF to sit on the bench until the end of the season or give him a last chance to prove his worth, we face the prospect of not being able to solve the keeper situation at the end of the season, but simply creating a new one.
Many fans accept that a trip to Anfield has too often produced a highly predictable result and the prospect of making up the 3 points we gifted to Norwich won't come back soon.

Regardless of the salary we give to players, we need to have confidence in those we do play and at the moment (and sadly) McCarthy doesn't rate that IMHO.


highfield49 added 10:05 - Nov 24
It seems to me that you've identified the problem Nick when you say RH "has a dilema", in other words neither keeper is good enough at the top level. On that basis it's almost a coin toss decision on who should wear the jersey this weekend but I believe Forster should get the nod in view of his recent performance at Chelsea. The problem is of course that Ralph has a history of random decisions like playing Walcott or Long instead of Tella, buying a competent left back and playing a right back in the position, putting Adam Armstrong out on the wing etc, etc. I can only think that McCarthy will play in order to justify his anticipated contract renewal, frankly I'd let both current goalkeepers leave in the summer to fund a quality replacement and look to develop any of the young keepers we have on the books as the reserve for next season.

Colburn added 12:12 - Nov 24
Mccarthy did cost us both goals but not necessarily the win. KWP lost the ball when we were vulnerable and the communication between Bednarek and Salisu was non existent as Pukki got in front of Salisu who was static. They then turned to each other. So a lot could have been done to stop the first before it got to Mccarthy. There will be games when we make mistakes but the real reason wd lost was because we failed to make our dominance turn into goals. Our problem this season is taking our chances and this is not nearly highlighted as much as the errors at the back..
I do totally agree with you though Nick about Forster coming back into the team as these mistakes from Mccarthy come from this incredibly laid back demeanour which means he lacks sharpness at certain times. I'm not sure why we didn't address this problem in the summer rather than paying Walcott the wage he is on..
Also agree with other comments about Tella and the odd decision to start with 3 CDM'S at Norwich with little creativity with one not knowing his role making him lose confidence and thus his way. The subs were indeed baffling and all these odd decisions and lack of focus caused the loss. One goal after 3 mins then nothing against the worst team in the league shows the real issue and I imagine this is putting more pressure on the defence to play a faultless game because the forwards are unable to achieve this..

Whatsforpud added 15:50 - Nov 24
This article doesn't really analyse the technical abilities of the two keepers. I tend to agree that Forster should be given a run, but neither of them would rate very high in the Premier league. For all his height, Forster is very reluctant to come out to catch crosses, and is apt to push out shots in preference to catching them. Generally, he is a stopper, not a catcher. Henderson would be better off in our first team rather than MU's bench (apart from his money I assume!)

pwithers123 added 16:11 - Nov 24
On Foster v McCarthy debate - Could it be the difference in how the goalies each perform with the ball at their feet ? Is McCarthy better at receiving passes from defenders and using the ball - without handling it ?

LeTissIwish added 16:49 - Nov 24
Neither McCarthy or Forster are premier league keepers, end of story!

saintmark1976 added 17:43 - Nov 24
For what it’s worth Nick I’m of the opinion that you completely miss the point concerning the goal keeping situation. Nobody would be remotely interested in the two soft goals conceded on Saturday if only we had scored three at the other end.

We have scored eleven goals in twelve games this season. The only team with a worse record is Norwich having scored seven, two of which were against us.

Teams that can’t score goals get relegated. Asking any keeper to consistently keep a clean sheet game after game in the hope that we nick a goal sometime during the game is simply an impossible task.Peter Shilton in his prime wouldn’t be able to do it,let alone McCarthy or Forster.


halftimeorange added 17:53 - Nov 24
A lot of our defensive errors start with McCarthy suddenly playing short balls into dangerous positions consequently putting unnecessary pressure on our defenders who then begin to worry whenever Alex has the ball. His distribution is unpredictable and that is one of our major problems. Taking that extra touch both in defence and attack is another and asking players to perform to their best when out of position is the third. It seems to me we need a director of football.

JoeEgg added 18:07 - Nov 24
I think you live in cloud canary land Nick at times! We scored one goal against the worst team in the league and in the second half you say we never looked like losing the game - but then neither did we ever look like winning it! We invite pressure on our defence where at least two players are constantly played out of position, and on our goalkeeper by employing tactics that few, if any of us can begin to understand.
In those great Koeman years - all TWO of them !!!- we frequently conceeded but we scored so many goals in some fabulously entertaining games to stop worrying about the occasional goalkeeping mistake. We just lost 2-1 to Villa - I remember so well that be beat Villa 6-1 under Koeman! Can you imagine us every scoring SIX under Ralph?!
I understand your interest in the goalkeeping debate but I fear this only distracts from so many other areas where Ralph has still got it wrong and stops us from performing.

sandywelsh added 09:01 - Nov 25
I hope you are sending the result of this vote in our poll to Ralph. You are right Fraser Forster had been the better keeper with McCarthy still looking hesitant and error prone. The one going at the end of the season should be McCarthy.

beynali73 added 10:26 - Nov 25
Maybe Ralph will try Walcott in goal and use Fraser as a big target man to get on the end of crosses

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