Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Between the sticks

It's the hardest position on the pitch in many ways, because there is no place to hide when things go wrong. Being a goal keeper takes a certain type of character, some would say a rather nutty character. Moreover, these days you have to be a good footballer as well as a shot stopper. 

There are usually a couple keepers battling for the one spot on the pitch every week, but in AFCB's case we have three first team keepers at the moment, David James, Shwan Jalal and Ryan Allsop with a possible fourth contender in Darryl Flahavan when he is available again. I am not too sure who most AFCB fans want to see in goal these days. All of our keepers have had their bad days and they have all made sensational saves. 

In the latest change David James has made way for Shwan Jalal, apparently because of his poor distribution in a few matches. I suspect the late misdirected goal kick in the Swindon Town game did not help David's case. But even seeing Jalal in the recent Crewe game at home I remember seeing Eddie Howe trying to get him to kick the ball towards the touchline, around the halfway line, when the short throw outs were coming under more and more pressure from the eager opposition forwards. There were a few gasps from the home crowd during the first half of the Crewe game when this happened, but the team survived unscathed.

There can be an advantage in having a shot stopper who can distribute the ball quickly and accurately to our back four, midfield or even the forwards if we want to mix it up now and again. The tactic pulls opposition players out of position and creates spaces to exploit. And we play from the back when we can and I must admit it is fabulous to watch when we play in this way with confidence and speed.

However, when we are tentative and the opposition is alive to the tactic it does surprise me that we continue to put our defenders under pressure when they look phased by the ball coming to them when they are being closely marked. Perhaps it is something that the team needs to improve on, so we become more at ease on the ball like the continentals. I also feel that goal keepers need to do more work these days on being comfortable with the ball at their feet. Just remember at the Sheffield United keeper's mistake the other week against Yeovil! http://www1.skysports.com/football/live/match/263023/report

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