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Villarreal Game To Decide Who Will Be Number 1 For Saints
Friday, 29th Jul 2022 11:45

So far it seems that Ralph Hasenhuttl has not yet decided who will be his number 1 goalkeeper this season, if game time is anything to go by so far it is Alex McCarthy, but for the final friendly on Saturday it will be Gavin Bazunu's chance to stake his claim.

Ralph Hasenhuttl may be undecided at the moment, but most Saints supporters are not sitting on the fence as to whom they think should be in goal for the team when they run out at Tottenham Hotspur in 8 days time.

They think it should be new signing from Manchester City Gavin Bazunu, but I have to say here, that few of those who want him to be in ahead of Alex McCarthy have actually seen him play, so far he has played just 1 1/2 games, the first of those was 45 minutes against RB Leipzig in which he kept a clean sheet, but with few Saints fans at the game plus those who watched on a stream, I would say the numbers are minimal.

His second game came against Watford last week, the game was not streamed by Saints so if we add those Saints fans present to the number in Austria, still only around 400 max Saints fans have seen him play live up until now.

So before we start a clamour for him to be the number one we need to consider a few things, we are basing the demand not really on his form for Saints, after all two low key friendlies is not the Premier League and nor is his good form for Pompey in League One, but purely on the fact that we all know Alex McCarthy after 6 years at the club is not the permanent answer, he is a good enough back up keeper, but having rarely been a first choice keeper in his career it seems he lacks the concentration needed to play a whole season, something he has never managed for Saints.

This is where Ralph has a dilemma, to be blunt he knows what we the supporters do, but does he throw Bazunu who is still only 20 and so far has not played above League One level into the fire for a very difficult opening spell and lets be blunt the young keeper is hardly going to be helped out by a raft of experienced players in front of him if he plays at Tottenham.

So Ralph has to consider whether he puts McCarthy in for the tough start to the season and eases Bazunu in as the games tick by.

So with the manager publicly stating that Gavin Bazunu will start against Villarreal, it seems that this will be the game that will make up his mind for him as to who will start against Tottenham Hotspur.

From my point of view, having been at Wealdstone to see the game against Watford and stood behind our goal in each half I was very impressed with Bazunu, from a shot stopping perspective he had little to do of note in this game, although what he did have to do he did faultlessly and his handling and positioning looked good.

But shot stopping is only a part of a goalkeepers job these days and what impressed me most about Bazunu was his all round game.

Ralph likes a keeper to be able to play with his feet and Bazunu could certainly do that, he had a passing ability I have not seen in a Saints keeper and could do far more than just knock the ball short, I have seen midfielders with less passing skills than Bazunu.

But more than that, after passing the ball he didn't just sit back and admire his work, he got into position to potentially receive the ball back, he was mobile and giving the players in front of him options.

The word mobility also comes into play when we look at the opposition coming forward, Bazunu is quick off his line and falls into what used to be known as sweeper keeper's back in the old days.

His command of his box was also good, he wasn't hesitant and he commanded his box and came for crosses and got there, his handling in these situations and decision making was excellent.

So for me in all departments what i have seen has lead me to believe that he is ready to be our new number 1.

But there is still that nagging doubt that he has looked good in friendly games and has never played at this level and of course his young age.

I could counter this with the fact that Alex McCarthy also played in friendly games and far from excelled himself, if we want a direct comparison, Bazunu played the first 45 minutes against RB Leipzig, kept a clean sheet and also pulled off a very good save, McCarthy played the second 45 minutes of that game and conceded three goals, in fairness, there were multiple changes and i don't know which Leipzig side was the stronger in either half.

So all the evidence is pointing to Gavin Bazunu starting the season as number 1, I think if we were playing Bretford or Fulham at home on the opening day there would be no doubt, however it is Tottenham Hotspur, one of the most potent attacking sides in the Premier League, it will be a baptism of fire.

So the Villarreal game will perhaps be the game that decides Ralph's mind for the contest, Ok it won't be the cauldron of the Premier League, but it will be a test for the youngster to show he has even at only 20 years old the mental attitude to handle the pressure.

This will be the only worry for Ralph, he will have to throw him to the Wolves and hopes that he comes through in the early League games, he hasn't the chance to ease him into the side.

Personally if Bazunu comes through the Villarreal game as I think he will, I would play him at Spurs, the truth is Bazunu is the future of the club whereas Alex McCarthy is not.

Photo: Action Images

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IanRC added 12:54 - Jul 29
Agree entirely, sad to see McCarthy beaten at his near post again against Monaco. Thought his distribution was a bit better than last season though.

WestSussexSaint added 13:17 - Jul 29
I would go with Bazanu. If he is good enough then experience is irrelevant. I’ll admit that I’m only going on what I have read on here and other reports.

Whoever Ralph goes for what he must do is make a decision and stick by his man. The whole GK by committee approach he employed with McCarthy and Forster didn’t help either keeper or the defence for that matter. There needs to be a constant number one for the season and that cannot be McCarthy.

DPeps added 13:48 - Jul 29
I would go with Bazunu straight away.
I predict that Ralph will go with McCarthy until he makes an error or two... predictions on when that will be?!

redwight added 15:00 - Jul 29
This is an entirely self inflicted dilemma. Had McCarthy not been given and signed a new contract and been allowed to leave, we would then have been able to extend Forster's and, assuming he had signed it, been able to introduce Bazuna gradually. I appreciate that, so far as unhelpful comments go, this is right up there, but I offer it nonetheless.

wrathoftazz added 16:24 - Jul 29
If Ralph even has to make a decision, it proves he is not fit to manage a team. McCarthy is 3rd selection AT BEST

1teeminants added 18:34 - Jul 29
You say McCarthy is a good enough back up keeper. Completely disagree. He commits mistakes time after time, season after season. To even have him in the squad smacks of incompetence.

City_boy added 10:46 - Jul 30
Is this game really the decider to see who is Number 1 ? Anyone who has been following Saints will know that McCarthy is just not good enough, even as 3rd choice. If Ralf needs this game to decide his number 1, he really does have problems.

Just because McCarthy is more experienced than Bazanu, does that justify putting him in as Number 1 to keep making the same mistakes ?


WestSussexSaint added 14:28 - Jul 30
City Boy, if being no 1 Gk was purely based on experience then Willie would be starting next week at Spurs.

Herts_Saint added 00:33 - Jul 31
Definitely Bazunu. Even if we discount his limited time in a Saints'shirt then you can base it on his performances last season and for the Republic of Ireland. I don't think McCarthy will ever win a player of the season award!

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