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Goalkeeping standards deteriorated


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Have to say that I think the standard of goalkeeping presently is the worst I have seen in my time watching football. We at Rovers have been blessed over the years/decades with some terrific keepers whose only job was to keep the ball out of the net. The likes of Jones, Bradshaw, Gennoe, Arnold, Flowers , Robinson, and of course Friedel. Kaminski also deserves a mention..

Now you are likely to see a keeper make a mistake or two in every game which ends up costing a goal.

What do people think, has the last 20 years or so seen standards drop ?

 

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Decision making when it comes to shot stopping seems to have gone out the window in the modern game. Every keeper is trained to parry and punch. You rarely see a goalkeeper holding onto the ball and this applies for crosses too.  

One of my strongest memories of Friedel is when we were under pressure and he'd hold onto a save or a cross. He'd then stand there with the ball and motion to the team / crowd to calm down. It surprises me that with all the data in football these days, that getting the ball into your keepers hands isn't seen as a key tactic. It's as though the data only goes as far as it being statistically safer for keepers to punch the ball away from danger, without any consideration of the next phase of play. It's no wonder teams struggle to break a stranglehold of pressure. I'm sure the likes of City would hate the opposition doing this. It'd limit their efforts to suffocate the opposition. 

Outside of that, I can only assume there is so much pressure on keepers footwork these days, that they spend less time training their shotstopping and crosses. 

Edited by ben_the_beast
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35 minutes ago, Tugayisgod said:

Have to say that I think the standard of goalkeeping presently is the worst I have seen in my time watching football. We at Rovers have been blessed over the years/decades with some terrific keepers whose only job was to keep the ball out of the net. The likes of Jones, Bradshaw, Gennoe, Arnold, Flowers , Robinson, and of course Friedel. Kaminski also deserves a mention..

Now you are likely to see a keeper make a mistake or two in every game which ends up costing a goal.

What do people think, has the last 20 years or so seen standards drop ?

 

I think it's part of a wider change in how the game is played at the top level(s), and you can put the standards of defending in as a part of the same conversation. Basically if you're judging a player on a much wider skill set (i.e. contributing with the ball) then that's going to:

i) promote players who are good at that but not so good at the traditional 'core' skills - see Alexander-Arnold

ii) incentivise players as youngsters to spend more time working on all aspects of their game, and not just the typical aspects of goalkeeping/defending. 

 

As well as that you've also got teams setting up in ways which (by and large) leave keepers and defensive players much more exposed than times gone by. It would be so interesting to see how Brad would be perceived in the modern game. Obviously he was as good as anyone when he was at Rovers, but there would be plenty of managers who wouldn't even consider him these days, and not just at the top clubs.

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1 hour ago, ben_the_beast said:

I'm sure the likes of City would hate the opposition doing this. It'd limit their efforts to suffocate the opposition. 

It's amazing the influence Pep's pass-it-out tika taka tactics have had on the game from top to bottom. He basically pioneers a way of playing, all the little English clubs lap it up and make their own bargain basement copy, then proceed to give the ball back to City at every opportunity high up the pitch, making it easier for them to win games. Talk about Stockholm Syndrome.

I totally agree with the OP on standards - keepers used to catch it and launch it. You got the odd sweeper keeper, or an eccentric Grobbelaar character occasionally. Across the board, right down to the lower leagues, every keeper nowadays is punching with a wet fish slap straight to a forward, and they all have to be players of the ball who can start attacks from their own 6 yard box. It's mad.

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This thread is only 5 posts in and it's all been said really. But I agree, the change in tactics and keeper priorities has been responsible for a serious downgrade on keepers' ability to keep the ball out the net. Both developmentally and in terms of who gets bought and picked. Pears staying ahead of Kaminski in last season's pecking order was a prime example of these distorted priorities.

I don't know the stats, but I bet there are more goals per shot on target now than there were 10 years ago. I see the logic of these modern keepers in playing a bit further up the field, having another player capable with their feet to relieve the defence when under pressure, inviting the opposition on more to create space for counters, etc., but it just can't be worth the loss of so many goals on account of a keeper not being good enough at their main job (not to mention being wildly out of position if the passing goes wrong). I'm all for modern methods when they work, but if you don't have a keeper capable of both sides of the game at a high level, the one you should pick is actual goalkeeping. It's not far off where you might as well put an actual midfielder as your keeper. I agree defenders don't defend as well these days as a result too. You normally only get to see an old school style at CB now when you play 3 of them, then you can play the tippy tappy and have someone like JPVH burst through the line to crunch someone.

Catching vs punching, I've never understood that one. It's almost never the best choice to punch it. I can't imagine the data shows it is. It always used to go wrong back in the day (my god, David fucking James) and it still routinely goes wrong now.

I don't get it. It makes sense if you've over committed and you're stretching to reach the ball at all, or if you have a very clear sight of an unmarked player you know you can accurately punch it to for an immediate counter. It can potentially make sense if you think you're going to end up on the floor and aren't confident you'll keep hold of the ball. I can't think of any other scenario it makes sense. And yet it's the choice most modern keepers seem to make most of the time if there's a player anywhere near them.

Why? I don't remember someone like big Brad ever catching the ball then dropping it without being fouled. I've certainly seen many punches into danger zones though, plenty resulting in goals. It's a trend that should have gone away by now, not become the norm. Much like short corners.

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On 30/11/2023 at 10:02, ben_the_beast said:

 I'm sure the likes of City would hate the opposition doing this. It'd limit their efforts to suffocate the opposition. 

 

Brentford always seem to give them a good game. Not much tip-tap playing from the back - good defenders and then getting the ball to quick, strong forwards seems to be their style from what I see (admittedly only on MOTD)

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On 01/12/2023 at 03:45, bluebruce said:

This thread is only 5 posts in and it's all been said really. But I agree, the change in tactics and keeper priorities has been responsible for a serious downgrade on keepers' ability to keep the ball out the net. Both developmentally and in terms of who gets bought and picked. Pears staying ahead of Kaminski in last season's pecking order was a prime example of these distorted priorities.

I don't know the stats, but I bet there are more goals per shot on target now than there were 10 years ago. I see the logic of these modern keepers in playing a bit further up the field, having another player capable with their feet to relieve the defence when under pressure, inviting the opposition on more to create space for counters, etc., but it just can't be worth the loss of so many goals on account of a keeper not being good enough at their main job (not to mention being wildly out of position if the passing goes wrong). I'm all for modern methods when they work, but if you don't have a keeper capable of both sides of the game at a high level, the one you should pick is actual goalkeeping. It's not far off where you might as well put an actual midfielder as your keeper. I agree defenders don't defend as well these days as a result too. You normally only get to see an old school style at CB now when you play 3 of them, then you can play the tippy tappy and have someone like JPVH burst through the line to crunch someone.

Catching vs punching, I've never understood that one. It's almost never the best choice to punch it. I can't imagine the data shows it is. It always used to go wrong back in the day (my god, David fucking James) and it still routinely goes wrong now.

I don't get it. It makes sense if you've over committed and you're stretching to reach the ball at all, or if you have a very clear sight of an unmarked player you know you can accurately punch it to for an immediate counter. It can potentially make sense if you think you're going to end up on the floor and aren't confident you'll keep hold of the ball. I can't think of any other scenario it makes sense. And yet it's the choice most modern keepers seem to make most of the time if there's a player anywhere near them.

Why? I don't remember someone like big Brad ever catching the ball then dropping it without being fouled. I've certainly seen many punches into danger zones though, plenty resulting in goals. It's a trend that should have gone away by now, not become the norm. Much like short corners.

"Modern" tactics are responsible not only for a downgrade in goalkeeper quality but a downgrade of every position and the whole game really. 

That's the Pep influence right there.

You used to have proper strikers. Their main job was to score.

Proper defenders.  Thier jobs were to stop the attacks.

Proper goalkeepers. Stop the ball going in the net.

Now you just have 11 average midfielders whose only real qualities are fast passing with good control and some decent positioning. 

Jack of all trades master of none the lot of them.

The one thing all these pound shop peps seem to forget is that Pep has always had near unlimited amounts of money to build his squad. Guardiola has himself said that he couldn't do what he does without huge budgets. 

Look at Haaland as an example. Yes, he's world class, but I think a lot of his success comes from modern defenders not knowing how to deal with a traditional centre forward. They've never been taught how to deal with that. Put him in a side in the 90's, he'd still be great, he's a top class player, but he'd not be the phenomenon he is now.

Short corners - Only effective when you hit them long 95% of the time.

Passing out from the back - Unless you're a world class side, just don't. 

Keepers punching the ball instead of catching - Was, is and always will be complete and utter dog shit. Should never be done unless in an emergency. 

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25 minutes ago, Upside Down said:

"Modern" tactics are responsible not only for a downgrade in goalkeeper quality but a downgrade of every position and the whole game really. 

That's the Pep influence right there.

You used to have proper strikers. Their main job was to score.

Proper defenders.  Thier jobs were to stop the attacks.

Proper goalkeepers. Stop the ball going in the net.

Now you just have 11 average midfielders whose only real qualities are fast passing with good control and some decent positioning. 

Jack of all trades master of none the lot of them.

The one thing all these pound shop peps seem to forget is that Pep has always had near unlimited amounts of money to build his squad. Guardiola has himself said that he couldn't do what he does without huge budgets. 

Look at Haaland as an example. Yes, he's world class, but I think a lot of his success comes from modern defenders not knowing how to deal with a traditional centre forward. They've never been taught how to deal with that. Put him in a side in the 90's, he'd still be great, he's a top class player, but he'd not be the phenomenon he is now.

Short corners - Only effective when you hit them long 95% of the time.

Passing out from the back - Unless you're a world class side, just don't. 

Keepers punching the ball instead of catching - Was, is and always will be complete and utter dog shit. Should never be done unless in an emergency. 

I would add , seing other, and your own side, making the same mistakes over and over again. And continuing to do it.

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11 hours ago, Upside Down said:

"Modern" tactics are responsible not only for a downgrade in goalkeeper quality but a downgrade of every position and the whole game really. 

That's the Pep influence right there.

You used to have proper strikers. Their main job was to score.

Proper defenders.  Thier jobs were to stop the attacks.

Proper goalkeepers. Stop the ball going in the net.

Now you just have 11 average midfielders whose only real qualities are fast passing with good control and some decent positioning. 

Jack of all trades master of none the lot of them.

The one thing all these pound shop peps seem to forget is that Pep has always had near unlimited amounts of money to build his squad. Guardiola has himself said that he couldn't do what he does without huge budgets. 

Look at Haaland as an example. Yes, he's world class, but I think a lot of his success comes from modern defenders not knowing how to deal with a traditional centre forward. They've never been taught how to deal with that. Put him in a side in the 90's, he'd still be great, he's a top class player, but he'd not be the phenomenon he is now.

Short corners - Only effective when you hit them long 95% of the time.

Passing out from the back - Unless you're a world class side, just don't. 

Keepers punching the ball instead of catching - Was, is and always will be complete and utter dog shit. Should never be done unless in an emergency. 

I remember reading many years ago ( 1960’s ) that the coming tactic/way of playing was going to be “ The Wheel “. Players would all be completely interchangeable and play wherever the ball took them. As you say basically a team of midfield players who could all run a bit, pass the ball a bit, shoot a bit, tackle a bit, head the ball a bit etc. 

I remember Les McDowall who was the manager at Man City at the time tried it for a few games. He packed the City team with what were known as “ wing halves”  then. Defensive midfield players today. After they got hammered each time by teams playing the more conventional game the plan was abandoned.

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On 01/12/2023 at 21:39, Upside Down said:

"Modern" tactics are responsible not only for a downgrade in goalkeeper quality but a downgrade of every position and the whole game really. 

That's the Pep influence right there.

You used to have proper strikers. Their main job was to score.

Proper defenders.  Thier jobs were to stop the attacks.

Proper goalkeepers. Stop the ball going in the net.

Now you just have 11 average midfielders whose only real qualities are fast passing with good control and some decent positioning. 

Jack of all trades master of none the lot of them.

The one thing all these pound shop peps seem to forget is that Pep has always had near unlimited amounts of money to build his squad. Guardiola has himself said that he couldn't do what he does without huge budgets. 

Look at Haaland as an example. Yes, he's world class, but I think a lot of his success comes from modern defenders not knowing how to deal with a traditional centre forward. They've never been taught how to deal with that. Put him in a side in the 90's, he'd still be great, he's a top class player, but he'd not be the phenomenon he is now.

Short corners - Only effective when you hit them long 95% of the time.

Passing out from the back - Unless you're a world class side, just don't. 

Keepers punching the ball instead of catching - Was, is and always will be complete and utter dog shit. Should never be done unless in an emergency. 

All you have to do is look at Leicester's title winning side. Each player knew their role and they did it well with no fuss. 

Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Cristian Fuchs. Their job was to defend with their lives. Morgan and Huth did it superbly. 

Kante and Drinkwater in midfield just had to bring energy and be competitive. Albrighton, being one the only truly traditional wingers I can remember from the last decade. Vardy a quick, proper striker who could put the ball in the net. And Mahrez adding creativity and magic.

If teams attacked Leicester, they could defend and hit on the counter. If teams sat back, they had Mahrez to unlock them.

Dead simple, nothing fancy and not playing by the 'Pep rulebook'. Yes the stars aligned for that title win, but it amazes me more teams and managers aren't trying to do similar.

Another example being West Ham winning the conference league last year. They knew what they were and they played to their strengths, rather than the perception of what a modern football team should be. With all the data involved in football their are so many 'diamonds in the rough' if you're one of the few clubs looking for specific skill sets, rather than all rounders.

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7 hours ago, ben_the_beast said:

All you have to do is look at Leicester's title winning side. Each player knew their role and they did it well with no fuss. 

Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Cristian Fuchs. Their job was to defend with their lives. Morgan and Huth did it superbly. 

Kante and Drinkwater in midfield just had to bring energy and be competitive. Albrighton, being one the only truly traditional wingers I can remember from the last decade. Vardy a quick, proper striker who could put the ball in the net. And Mahrez adding creativity and magic.

If teams attacked Leicester, they could defend and hit on the counter. If teams sat back, they had Mahrez to unlock them.

Dead simple, nothing fancy and not playing by the 'Pep rulebook'. Yes the stars aligned for that title win, but it amazes me more teams and managers aren't trying to do similar.

Another example being West Ham winning the conference league last year. They knew what they were and they played to their strengths, rather than the perception of what a modern football team should be. With all the data involved in football their are so many 'diamonds in the rough' if you're one of the few clubs looking for specific skill sets, rather than all rounders.

West Ham having by far the largest budget in the competition was probably the main factor there.

Ancelotti who is possibly the best manager around in the recent era doesn't bother with all this football philosophy bollocks. Just an organised defence and good attacking players.

Football really is quite simple. If you can defend well then you've a good chance of winning.

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Some shockers from Raya tonight. I hope that agreement is binding for our little sum!

They’ve had a shocker paying that much for a keeper whose stats really were not that good at Brentford. Just the obvious myth that he’s good with ball at feet as he’s Spanish (he isn’t). 

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25 minutes ago, superniko said:

Some shockers from Raya tonight. I hope that agreement is binding for our little sum!

They’ve had a shocker paying that much for a keeper whose stats really were not that good at Brentford. Just the obvious myth that he’s good with ball at feet as he’s Spanish (he isn’t). 

He definitely is Spanish 😁

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think this is just a massive case of recency bias. 

I can't remember a season without a considerable number of howlers and I can think of plenty of goalkeepers at big clubs that were nothing special.

If anything, as with most things in the world of sport, the overall quality and technical ability only improve over time. 

 

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I think what has not been mentioned is how much the game has changed in the last 4 or 5 years. And I'm not talking about Pep.

I'm talking about the rule change which allows your own teams players into the penalty area on a goal kick. Its massively changed the game second only in my lifetime to the introduction of the pass back rule.

Teams are much more incentivised to pass out from the back because of this and the stats back it up. The trend is much more to do with this specific rule change and not as much to do with trendy following pep as people are making out. Clear advantage for the team that can do it properly hence why the best teams do it. Whether weaker teams should be passing out like they do I'm not sure and think may revert back over the next few years as the goals given away will outweigh the benefits. Tbf even now you see a lot of more direct sides sometimes take advantage by looking for the short pass in the area on goal kicks and then going long after one pass.

Essentially football and the evolution of the game and tactics is all about space... where is it and how can we exploit it. Goalkeepers becoming better on the ball is a natural evolution of the two rule changes mentioned. I'd be interested to see if the average size of a keeper comes down ever so slightly over the next few years.

A poster above wondered how Friedel would cope in the modern game and im unsure what level he would end up as even he said in an interview relatively recently he'd struggle with it. The higher starting point, being encouraged to come further off your line in general play and the ball/passing skills to play out. Friedel for example was never a very strong kicker like Paul Robinson was but he was very consistent and his bad kicks or his kicks off his left foot were always aimed towards the touchline to minimise damage. 

I'd agree keepers appear weaker on crosses. For me this is likely to be them facing more technical teams / less physical styles coming through academies, simply they are less exposed. Perhaps the modern balls which deviate so much more through the air are a contributing factor to more parrying on shots and this has rolled over to crosses also?

I'd also like to know also if the types of shots keepers are facing has changed much in the last 10-20 years because in my head I'm not sure it has.

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Answering the last question, Teams are not shooting from distance like they used to.

Means far fewer spectacular goals but also keepers now get far fewer camera ready saves to make.

Multiple camera angles and nano second analysis means the percentages favour the build up and moving opponents out of position. Given the fitness and strength levels of modern players and improved ball technology, I refuse to believe that nobody in the current crop can strike a ball like Peter Lorimer repeatedly did or Steven Reid achieved at Wigan or have the volleying ability of Tugay. Simply the coaching technique of getting bodies between player with ball 30 yards out and the goal have improved dramatically. Teams are defending narrower than they used to and relying on full back sprint speed to get to wide players on the opposite flank in the time it takes for the ball to travel and be brought under control.

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Is shot stopping much worse? Not sure. But without doubt the ability of keepers to ‘control their box’ is. Far more flapping at corners, naff punching.

No surprise as apart from corners how much crossing do keepers deal with these days? The ball is at their feet twenty yards out far more than over their head from whipped in crosses.

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3 hours ago, philipl said:

Answering the last question, Teams are not shooting from distance like they used to..

It's also the impact of statistics, xG, and the sabermetrics of football. A speculative attempt from 30 yards is frowned upon. You're basically just giving the ball away.

It's a shame as it does deny us great goals and, as you point out, also denies goalkeepers the chance to make more visually impressive saves. 

Edited by Eddie
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3 hours ago, Mattyblue said:

Is shot stopping much worse? Not sure. But without doubt the ability of keepers to ‘control their box’ is. Far more flapping at corners, naff punching.

No surprise as apart from corners how much crossing do keepers deal with these days? The ball is at their feet twenty yards out far more than over their head from whipped in crosses.

I think there is more “ flapping at corners “ because there are more players involved in them.  Back in my stone age playing days the centre half/halves stayed on the centre line marking the opposing centre forward at a corner.  Both full backs more or less did the same marking their wingers. Those three attacking players stayed well down field. So that’s six players taken out of the goal mouth area. 
The goalkeeper had more room to move in the goal mouth then. Less players to jostle a keeper trying to catch the ball.


The first centre half I saw regularly go up for corners was Mike England in the early to mid 1960’s. As he was 6’ 3” with a tremendous leap he was devasting. I’ve seen him head the ball down into the top corner of the net.

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