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Ferguson and Foster Row: Will Sir Alex Ever Find an Acceptable GK?

October 9, 2009

fergMaybe SAF does need to have his specs cleaned…..

This article comes from a guest writer for WDKF, Mark Murphy, who as a goal keeper playing professionally for the Richmond Kickers, has offered his perspective as a GK on the Alex Ferguson/Ben Foster row.  And we all know a goalkeeper’s viewpoint is said to be the most advantageous of anyone on the pitch…..


So Alex Ferguson got into it with his goalkeeper after a should-have-been-three-points draw with Sunderland.


Blaming the goalkeeper is Ferguson’s favorite past time. You’d be hard-pressed to find a goalkeeper in his tenure that hasn’t received his famous hairdryer treatment. Save Mossimo Taibi, who seemed to be doomed upon arrival at Old Trafford. Even Peter Schmeichel confessed he was on the receiving end of a face full of words often in his career.

If there’s nothing else to be learned from this trend from Ferguson, it’s that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Ferguson isn’t the most goalkeeper-sympathetic manager in the world. Never has been, never will be. Upon arrival he brought with him Jim Leighton. A few changes between he and Les Sealey and he decided to go all in for the Great Dane. Once he left, the goalkeeping revolving door began. Raimond Van Der Gouw, Mark Bosnich, Massimo Taibi, Ricardo, Fabian Bartez, Tim Howard, Roy Carroll…am I missing anyone? And then “The Answer” arrived. While even Van Der Sar isn’t quite the equivalent of Schmeichel, at least he’s been holding down the starting role seemingly effortlessly. But his time is soon up. And does Ferguson have the stomach for another goalkeeping merry-go-round to ensue?

Ben Foster was/is highly touted as the long-term heir to the United goalkeeping throne. Tomas Kuszczak could be very well back on level terms after a string of unconvincing performances. While it could be argued that every little thing these two do is under the microscope of scrutiny, it still begs the question; do both of these keepers have the mettle to be the number one at Old Trafford? And if not, who’s up for the task?

Iker Casillas. No chance. Aside from the fact that Real Madrid would never…ever ever ever ever EVER let him go, he isn’t cut out for EPL. Amazing shot stopper yes, dodgy cross claimer…yes. Gianluigi Buffon? Perhaps, but age isn’t much on his side now. And recent shoulder injuries may have taken some of his stellar form away in recent years. Would Juve really let him go anyway? Would his daft accessorizing go over well with the United faithful? Victor Valdes? United would be better off with John O’Shea in goal. So, who would fit in well at United? Better still…what should the qualities of United’s next no.1 be?

Peter Schmeichel being the standard bearer, lets start here; 1.) Massive presence. Not just in the goal; the locker room and training ground as well. Schmeichel’s size alone wasn’t intimidating, it was his overall demeanor. He intimidated in every sense of the word. 2.) Ability. That’s a given, but anyone can save a shot. But not everyone can save just one shot, after not having seen the ball for 89 minutes. Howard does well at Everton for that reason; he can’t zone out, he gets loads of touches. Van Der Sar does well at Man U. for the same reason; he WON’T zone out. Unless it’s a Champions League final and a midget’s going up for a header. What are the odds? 3.) Charisma. This might fall hand in hand with the presence aspect. But the Manchester United number one has big shoes to fill. Harry Gregg pulled passengers out of a burning plane in Munich. Schmeichel used to berate and batter his defenders for the slightest miscue. Fabien Bartez would provide goals for Thierry Henry at every given opportunity. Manchester United goalkeepers must have these three qualities; bravery, desire, and a sense of risk taking. This is par for the course in goalkeeping, but being at Manchester seems to take those elements away from most goalkeepers.

Diego Lopez? Single handedly tried to take Arsenal out of Champions League contention last year with Villareal. Massive presence at 6’ 6. Superior distribution. The intangibles are still debatable but he looks up to the task. Artur Boruc? Definitely has the controversial personality, and a Schmeichel-esque unorthodox style of goalkeeping, but his recent off-the-field escapades may prove he’s not mature enough. Call me crazy, but here we go. I’ll nominate Joe Hart. His physique would be the second coming of Gary Bailey, and who wouldn’t have wanted him in the nets when he was at his prime? He wasn’t bad at City, and definitely did an excellent job at such an early age, and seemed unrattled by nerves in city derbies. His athleticism and technique are fantastic, and with age he can only get better. And what better motivation to get back at your old team than to join the city rivals and dominate for years- Sol Campbell anyone? So that’s my pick, I’ll stick with it. What would yours be?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. maserati4200 permalink
    October 9, 2009 12:39 pm

    I agree Schmeichel was world-class. The best Man Utd have ever had in my opinion. They’ve never replaced him.

    SAF should have splashed the cash and signed Gigi Buffon a long time ago.

    Van der Saar is past his sell-by date. Foster is poor. Joe Hart is a good call.

    • October 9, 2009 12:45 pm

      I need to speak to the site founder about getting a tshirt to you, Maserati.
      The fact that you read is what keeps us writing.
      And thanks always for your feedback!

      • maserati4200 permalink
        October 9, 2009 12:51 pm

        My pleasure!

        It’s a great site. Well done to everyone who writes for the site. Keep up the good work.

    • October 12, 2009 8:42 am

      Schemichel is a legend, but he too had some ups and downs in his career.
      May be Foster has to be given his chance, but in any case, as VDS is on the verge of retiring, it will be great if SAF could get a keeper like Akinfeev or Neuer, Buffon would have been the best but he’s far too expensive

  2. October 9, 2009 12:54 pm

    Id sign the beast from Burnley….what a goalie.

  3. 19drew86 permalink
    October 9, 2009 1:05 pm

    All keepers make mistakes, its part of the game. I still think Foster can be number 1 for many years.

    Knowing Fergie’s lack of trust in keepers over the years he will probably go out i January or next summer to try and find a solution.

    We’ve been linked to a few keepers, most noticeably Manuel Neuer of Schalke and Akinfeev at CSKA. Both are fairly similar keepers, both tall and robust and great shot stoppers.

    We’ll have a chance to see how good Akinfeev is when we play them in the Champions League and maybe SAF will make a move.

  4. October 9, 2009 2:04 pm

    Good piece. Foster definitely needs to settle in but the fact that he hasn’t done so with such a small window to impress these days at OT means that he likely hasn’t lived up to the hype created by SAF himself.

    It still boggles my mind that we let Tim Howard go because another goalkeeper was favored that season. That goalkeeper waaaas: Roy Carrol. Not to mention the awesome play thaat we got out of Fabian Barthez.

    If the rumors about Julio Cesar coming to Manchester are true, I think he’s a sure replacement and would be MU’s starting goalkeeper for years to come. He’s the best in the world right now IMO and was amazing against us in CL last year.

  5. John D permalink
    October 9, 2009 5:16 pm

    Lopez from VIllareal is a good call IMNSHO. I think his huge presence would go down well at OT and apparently he has the character to perform in the big matches..

  6. October 10, 2009 1:07 am

    A couple or three Pemiership clubs were sniffing around a bloke called Willy Caballero who is presently first choice for my home town team, Segunda ‘A’ Elche CF. He’s a six foot odd, twenty eight year old Argentinian, who, physically resembles Tim Howard. To the best of my knowledge there’s no family history of Tourettes. Worth a punt for twenty three grand a week, hell yeah!!

  7. October 11, 2009 3:56 pm

    well no thank you to Joe Hart!

    nowhere near good enough for United…not yet anyhow. Id take Tim Howard back in a shot, or if he wasnt as injury prone Chris Kirkland. Fergie has always liked Jaaskelainen as well..wouldnt surprise me if he got a short term deal with us.

    I think we missed a trick when Shay Given was available, but understand at the time why Fergie let it be

    I like the idea of Akinfeev..or id be happy for the boss to get a journeyman older keeper to keep Foster on his toes if VDS retires. Wouldnt be suprised if Edwin gets another years contract if he is up for it.

  8. October 12, 2009 6:36 am

    the great dane is legendary!..

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