Choosing your goalkeeper

David Stockdale’s been on twitter saying more or less what he’s thinking, e.g. I want to play first team football. Whether this is the correct medium for the message, and what he accomplishes by making these comments is a debate for another day, but there they are: Stockdale wants to play.

The problem is big, yellow and Australian. Mark Schwarzer’s still playing well (ignore the Man Utd mistake: my view is that these things will happen and it doesn’t *mean* anything, although had Stockdale made the same error it would have been a sign that he isn’t “ready”) and while that’s the case it’s hard to see Hughes making a change. We’re not safe from relegation so it makes every sense to minimise all risks. And switching to a young goalkeeper at the very end of a season when you don’t have to is a risk, doubly so if relegation is still possible.

The concern is that if you keep Stockdale out he doesn’t get the experience he needs and leaves to get it elsewhere. I have no beef with keeping Schwarzer in goal now, but next season the two probably have to start off as equals with the winner being the goalkeeper who impresses the most in pre-season. Man City had a similarly tough decision to make with Hart and Given, and while Given didn’t like it, Hart’s time had come. Stockdale is older than Hart and has also played very well when given the chance, so there’s no reason why the same thing shouldn’t happen at Fulham.

Doubly so because to go with Schwarzer again would be to risk losing Stockdale, who, having tasted an England squad, would presumably not want another season as a backup. You either lose him on loan or by transfer. The loan would work well because Schwarzer can’t have more than a season or two left in him, however fit he might be, but might not be what Stockdale wants at this point (see Ben Foster/Scott Carson).

If you do choose Schwarzer next season, then, you could be choosing 1/2 years of him versus the rest of David Stockdale’s career. (How the proposed Alex Manninger signing fits into this is anyone’s guess, and suggests that one of the two goalkeepers we presently have will not be here next season.) Of course Hughes will be weighing all of this up and speaking to the players involved, but this, for now, is the CCN verdict: Schwarzer for the rest of the season, Stockdale next, if he proves he deserves it.

9 thoughts on “Choosing your goalkeeper

      1. Yes, Wenger might be less keen on Schwarzer now – a year older and maybe a year slower. But he hasn’t bought in a real replacement – Lehmann can only be a stopgap. But if Wenger came in with another offer of 2million plus, I suspect it would be enough for Hughes to accept it. That presumes, as Tony says below, that he thinks Stockdale is good enough, or Manninger fits the bill.

  1. I posted the comments below on FoF. If Manninger is coming it has to surely be as backup for Stockdale with Schwarzer leaving.

    I was thinking about this.

    We seem to be split between those who think Schwarzer is as good as ever and should still be number one and those who think he’s in decline and that Stockdale should now be given his chance.

    Both sides I think are talking bollox because they don’t have the infoirmation that the club has.

    We have goalkeeping coaches and a strong sports science team. You can be sure that Schwarzer is constantly being measured and tested and if there is any sign of a physical decline they will know.

    Stockdale will have been carefully assessed and his capabilities judged. There will be areas of weakness that have been identified and which he will be working on.

    The decision on what to do will be as a result of those assessments to which we will not be party.

    The idea that we should ditch a proven keeper for a youngster who may or may not be good enough doesn’t appeal to me but if the experts think that Stockdale is good enough and the tests show that Schwarzer is losing elements of his ability then obviously that changes things.

    My uneducated eyes tell me that Schwarzer is as good as ever and that Stockdale has what it takes but either or both of those opinions could very easily be wrong.

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  3. An Australian here – so take my advice with a grain of salt. But I was a Fulham supporter long before Schwarzer joined.

    3 years of Schwarzer pretty much guarantees Premier League survival. I think Stockdale will make more mistakes, could suffer form/confidence drops and we are down.

    3 years of Stockdale and if he does not make too many mistakes, keeps us up, has no form drops, then we lose him to a big club anyway and we are in the same place – without a quality keeper.

    There is no right answer. Stockdale has a weight problem that will cause injuries. Schwarzer has an age problem that will cause injuries.

    I think if we can get get a good price for Schwarzer over summer, AND find a good, older keeper willing to play number 2 then that might be the right thing to do.

    1. Stockdale is a big dude, but I’m not convinced he’s so big that it’ll cause him problems in the short term. He’s not exactly 42-year-old-Neville-Southall sized.

  4. As my name implies, I am partial to old goalies. Over time, goalies get smarter and improve as field managers. Experienced goalies anticipate the shots before the shots happen. But I also recognize that every athlete becomes old, sooner or later. For ‘keepers, injuries become chronic around age 36-39, and performance declines every year. Bottom line: Schwarzer’s market value will go down after this year. Stockdale’s value will go up with experience, and there is only one way to gain experience.

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