Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things

February 26, 2005

Timmy Seeks Redemption; Sir Alex Seeks a Clue

by @ 1:08 pm.
Filed under Uncategorized

I’m watching ManU v Portsmouth this morning. For today, at least, Tim Howard gets back to first team football for United. Mostly, we are led to believe, because Roy Carroll screwed up against Real Madrid in the Champion’s League last week.

But did he really? I saw the game. The shot that beat Carroll was hard, and, more importantly, it was a knuckleball. Anyone who’s played in the goal will tell you that knuckling action makes the ball swerve unpredictably on it’s path to goal. Carroll made a good stop, but not one of his defenders was there to handle the rebound. The shot itself was the result of slack marking, for that matter. So as much as I love seeing Tim get back on the field, why is Roy Carroll suddenly in the doghouse?

I’d like to put forth the proposition that Alex Ferguson, genius though he may be in other areas, has been weighed and found wanting as a manager of goalkeepers.

Let’s face it: for years and years, he didn’t have to have a clue about goalkeeping. He just penciled in the name “Schmeichel” every Saturday, and that was that. A sack of potatoes could manage a football team with Peter Schmeichel in goal and look like a genius.

But all good things come to an end, and in the post-Schmeichel era, Sir Alex has showed himself to be inept at understanding both the mechanics and the psychology of ‘keepers. He’s been way too quick to pull world-class keepers, and way too clueless about the difference between bad goalkeeping and bad defense.

Goalkeepers need confidence. They need to know that the manager knows what is involved in their job, and they need to know that when the inevitable goal is scored, it won’t cost them their job. SAF doesn’t understand any of this, it seems. Barthez, for all his quirky forays out of the six yard box, is a great keeper and was jettisoned too quickly. Tim Howard was doing great, and was benched way too quickly. Roy Carroll, ditto.

Right now, today, this is all working out well for our hero Tim Howard, but without the support he needs from the gaffer, he won’t be given the chance to fully blossom into the superstar we all know he can be. If I were Tim, I’d want out of Old Trafford, even as the starter. Arsenal, if they had any sense, would be courting him ASAP.

The press keep talking about how United are going to break the bank this summer and get a new goalkeeper. Let me ask you something: given Ferguson’s recent history, would you, if you were a world class goalkeeper, want to play for Manchester United?

I’m of the opinion that Sir Alex needs to shut up and appreciate what he has between the pipes. Your mileage may vary.

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