Does Foster have the ‘Hart’ to become England’s numer 1?
January 7, 2011 1 Comment
We’ve heard a lot about English goalkeeping problems over the last year, and rightly so, but in my opinion, after several years in the goalkeeping wilderness, we now possess two who are potentially world class. Joe Hart has been doing good things for the last two seasons, but it’s the man Manchester United kept hidden away who I wish to discuss: Ben Foster.
Foster has been around for several years now. I first saw him play for Watford against Preston in the Championship, and was impressed by his performance although the main point I took from that game was the sheer distance of his kicks, which dwarfed his opposite number’s. When Manchester United eventually stopped loaning Foster out, he was restricted to only a handful of appearances here and there, featuring only 12 times in the Premier League over three seasons. It is difficult for a goalkeeper to seamlessly settle into a team, and without a consistent string of performances, Foster is generally considered not to have lived up to expectations at Old Trafford.
His move to Birmingham this season has proved what many already knew. He had big boots to fill, succeeding Hart whose efforts drew so much attention last season, yet Foster has instantly settled, earning plaudits for a string of fantastic performances, and has made more saves than any other keeper in the league (86) with a saves/shots ratio of 78%. Birmingham haven’t been the most impressive of teams this term, but thanks to their goalkeeper working overtime, they have been able to snatch some unlikely results, most notably after Foster’s phenomenal showing against Chelsea. I was present at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday where Birmingham’s attack threatened (a rarity this season), but would have been for nothing had Foster not made an exceptional close-range save from Matt Phillips and later a fantastic dive to claw away a Charlie Adam effort which would have eluded many of his fellow top-flight goalkeepers.
In my mind, a question now stands over whether Hart or Foster will be England’s long-term Number 1. Hart currently seems to be the unquestioned first choice, but for me he is no better a goalkeeper. I sincerely doubt that Birmingham will hold on to Foster for too long, particularly if they fail to avoid the drop, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Messrs Wenger and Redknapp were sniffing around before too long. He is certainly a better goalkeeper than Fabianski and Gomes, and I struggle to imagine new United signing Lindegaard having a greater impact in the league. With Van der Sar retiring at the end of the season, will Foster prove himself to Sir Alex Ferguson to be the one that got away?
by Chris Box