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Football News: Manchester United Needs A Keeper Suited To A More Modern Style Of Play

Manchester United Needs A Keeper Suited To A More Modern Style Of Play

The David de Gea (DDG) debate seems to hinge more on the priority of replacing him, more so than the need to replace him. Most Manchester United fans might agree that if the team is to fully embrace Erik ten Hag's style of play and tactical approach, then a new modern Keeper will need to be signed.

Where fans differ, it seems is more about when that change needs to happen. Some like me feel it must happen this summer, others feel that there are more pressing needs in other areas of the team and that DDG can "hold the fort" for another season.

If this debate was happening 10 years ago, then I might well find myself on the other side of the fence, but the reality is the footballing landscape has shifted so much in recent years that the role of a keeper has almost fundamentally changed.

Much like how CB's changed from hard-nosed brutes who'd lump the ball and the opposition player into row Z to a more cultured ball playing technical player, or how we shifted from wide wingers to inside forwards playing on the opposite flank to their dominant foot, so they could look to cut inside. The role of a goalkeeper from purely a shot stopper to an initiator of play and last man defender has turned the role and the expectations on its head.

10 years ago, the most important skill of a keeper was his ability to make saves, much like 20 years ago. The most important skill of a defender was to win the ball. Now however, whether you like it or not the roles have changed. Defenders are as likely to be ranked on passing success or how expansive their passing is as they are on how many tackles they make.

Currently, our squad is littered with players out of time, players who'd have been great players in their position 10-20 years ago, but now they seem out of place and behind the times. Who wants a full back whose best skill is tackling when the best full backs are contributing 10-15 goals and assists each season.

Next season we will be 2023/24 not 1993/94. The English Premier League will be full of managers with modern footballing ideas, managers like De Zerbi, Emery, Frank, and Lopetegui at clubs such as Brighton, Villa, Brentford and Wolves. These are managers who could and should be managing UEFA Champions League clubs. That doesn't take into account managers like Pep, Klopp, and Arteta at our nearest rivals, while rumours swirl with the likes of Pochettino, Nagelsmann and Luis Enrique taking over at clubs like Spurs and Chelsea.

All of them prefer a modern approach. They look to have ball playing keepers or sweeper keepers. Either way, they involve their keeper both in and out of possession. While teams that don't are effectively playing with 10 men.
More often than not, when you effectively play with 10 men because you restrict the role of your keeper, while playing against a side that will utilise their keeper both in and out of possession, you will lose more games than you'll win.

If you look at what has let us down this season, it is our record against the top sides, sides that use their keepers as additional outfield players either in or out of possession or both. That will not improve next season unless we get a keeper who is able to allow us to match them tactically.

If we look at the evidence before us, City finished 3rd in Pep's first season with him using Hart / Bravo as his keeper, they amassed 78 points. The following summer, they signed Ederson and won the league with 100 points.

Liverpool finished 4th in 2017/18 with 75 points. That summer they signed Alisson and the following season they finished 2nd with 97 points.

Arsenal finished 8th with 61 points in 2020/21 with Leno as their keeper, since Ramsdale has signed, Arsenal have climbed to being City's main challenger for the title.

There is a recurring pattern that when teams upgrade their keeper to one who is more suited to playing a more modern style that those teams have seen a massive jump in overall team performance and results.

Until we do that, we will continue to be a side that fights it out in the Europa League trying desperately to get into the top four.

Written by Shappy May 13 2023 17:02:17


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