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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