- Goalkeepers are now an integral part of meeting the needs of modern coaches
- Teams across the league use goalies to boost their build-up play
- But it only works if your goalkeeper has variety in passing and lots of options
Goalkeepers are becoming the most important players on the pitch to meet the modern demands of Premier League managers.
They are instrumental in how their teams play – they are the ones who set the master plan in motion to move the ball from back to front, across the carpet and through every compartment of the team. Manchester City’s Ederson is the best man for this, and Arsenal are still deciding whether David Raya or Aaron Ramsdale are best suited for the job.
But this tactic is not just reserved for the league leaders. This also happens down below, where Bournemouth’s Neto and Burnley’s James Trafford try to develop play from their own six-yard line.
I agree that this approach is the best way forward. Playing from the back attracts the opponent, and once you’ve beaten their press, you have more space higher up the pitch for your attackers to do damage.
But it only works if your goalkeeper has variety in his passing game and finds a lot of solutions from his teammates when he has the ball. In Ederson’s case, he can send long and arrow-like passes behind the opposing defense, centrally to Erling Haaland or gift the ball to his nearest defender.
Goalkeepers are instrumental in how their teams play and none are better than Man City’s Ederson
Arsenal are still deciding which of David Raya or Aaron Ramsdale is the best man for the job
The problem for Trafford, despite being a student of Manchester City’s academy, is that Burnley’s defenders play the ball back to him and he encourages the opposition to take him out before releasing. There are a variety of factors at play here – the timing of midfielders’ movement into a gap is crucial in giving the goalkeeper an option in central positions, for example – and it seems to me that this is an area where Burnley need to improve .
Last Saturday we saw how self-defeating this tactic can be if not used effectively. In Burnley’s 3-0 defeat at Brentford, Trafford continually tried to avoid the opposition’s high press – even after the Clarets were down to 10 men – and almost conceded more than one goal in the process.
Likewise, Bournemouth were down to 10 men when Neto – who is injured on Saturday’s visit to Burnley and will be replaced by Andrei Radu – released the ball outside his own penalty area and gifted Wolves the goal in the 88th minute, making it 2-1 Defeat.
The lower teams try but Burnley and James Trafford struggle to make it happen
Bournemouth’s Neto was guilty of giving up the ball to give Wolves the winner
It must now be clear, not least to Neto, that he should have pressed the eject button to relieve the pressure by playing a long pass after that goal kick.
There comes a time when playing from behind only leads to trouble. It’s part of the theater of football now – you can feel the fans’ hearts pounding when their goalkeeper tries to play like that – but Saturday’s game between Bournemouth and Burnley isn’t about the style of play. It’s about securing victory.
A brand for attractive football is nice. But winning games is a must, especially when you’re locked in a fight at the bottom.
These two teams have won just once in 18 Premier League games and tomorrow it will be interesting to see how strictly their goalkeepers stick to their managers’ philosophies after the recent scares.