Saturday, November 18, 2017

Guardiola has a decision to make over goalkeeping situation

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 12 Feb 2017

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Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has been dropped from the Manchester City starting line-up of late

Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Manchester City was supposed to turn the Citizens into a major force. Unfortunately, at times, they have been more of a farce than a force this season.

One of the major problems the former-Barcelona boss has is in his goalkeeping department.

Argentinian Willy Caballero current occupies number one spot currently, after Chilean star Claudio Bravo was dropped after a series of unconvincing displays.

Most people would accept that Caballero is not good enough to be City’s long-term goalkeeper. Guardiola now has a problem on his hands.

A mistake in the summer

Far from me to question Guardiola’s decision-making, but letting Joe Hart leave on loan to Torino and bringing in Claudio Bravo last summer seems like a costly mistake. I am not the only one suggesting this was a mistake.

Only Liverpool in the top seven of the Premier League have conceded more goals than City this season. Even 15th place Middlesbrough have conceded fewer goals than the Citizens.

Of course, the goalkeeper cannot take all the blame for the number of goals going in. However, he plays his big part in it. He is the guy who organises and gives the defenders in front of him confidence.

This season Bravo does not seem to have done that. Granted City’s defence have produced some shocking moments, but Bravo has done little to keep his team from conceding.

England international Joe Hart has conceded 33 goals in Serie A this season, but he is playing in a midtable Italian team in Torino. City are supposed to be a dominant force. Well, they should be for the amount of money they have shelled out in recent years.

I cannot say I am Joe Hart’s biggest fan. He comes across as arrogant and over-confident at times. He also seems to have started to make a lot of errors in the last few years. No doubt he is a good goalkeeper, though, and I do believe the Citizens probably would have conceded fewer goals with him in-between the posts.

Goalkeepers are there to stop goals Pep

I have always been a big fan of Pep Guardiola as a coach. He is not afraid to try things and he has had far more successes down the years than failures. However, his insistence on having a ‘sweeper keeper’ is becoming an obsession, which has not affected his teams in the past.

This obsession is blinding him to the deficiency of his team at the moment. I always thought the primary purpose of a goalkeeper was to keep the ball out of the net. Bravo was signed because he is good with the ball at his feet.

If that is the only qualification to be a ‘keeper under Pep he may as well put an outfield player in goal. Bravo is a decent goalkeeper, but he has never been outstanding, even during his time at Barcelona he was never a top level ‘keeper, despite what Guardiola recently claimed.

Manchester City won two Premier League titles with Joe Hart in-between the sticks. Both campaigns the Citizens had decent defensive records. If Guardiola is not prepared to bring Hart back, then he must sign a ‘keeper that can actually command a defence and keep the ball from going in the goal.

City not in terrible shape

Despite the goalkeeping problem, Manchester City are not actually in bad shape. The Citizens head to Bournemouth on Monday night, in a game they are odds of 4/9 to win.

A third consecutive Premier League win would move the fifth-place Citizens up to second in the table. With Chelsea playing at Burnley later today they could still be ten points behind the league leaders in the table.

However, another win could give the Citizens a bit of momentum in the Premier League. Their boss Pep Guardiola must now know that managing in the English top-flight could be his biggest challenge yet in his managerial career.

One of the main challenges for the Catalan boss is finding a solution to his goalkeeping conundrum, which is unlikely to be solved until the end of the season.

Should Guardiola restore Joe Hart to City number one next season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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