By John Cartwright
Recently I wrote a ‘blog’ about changes to defensive tactics at Free-kicks against around the penalty area. I have received several readers who have experimented with the method(s) I proposed and all have said, “it works a treat”. So here is my next so-called outrageous suggestion; it applies to Goalkeepers.
Our obsession with ball possession has brought about a trend in the game for fast closing-down by opponents in order to win the ball early and close to the oppositions goal. Teams who are attempting to keep the ball and start offensive play close to their own goal are having difficulty in moving the ball upfield in a safe manner. Too often, for safety reasons when under pressure, the ball is played long by either a back player or goalkeeper and possession is lost. In my opinion, there is often opportunities for Goalkeepers to bring the ball forward themselves.
Before you fall over laughing at the suggestion of a Goalkeeper taking the ball upfield like any other outfield player, let me explain in more detail why and how this can be achieved.
Goalkeeper’s look to play the ball to their unmarked players – either close to their own goal or to colleagues positioned further away (note: Bravo and Ter Stegen, of Barcelona FC who are exceptional passers and kickers of the ball.) However, there are times when opponents have closed-down quickly and possession from deep positions is not possible. It is these situations that Goalkeepers can become an ‘overload player’ and bring the ball forward. These situations occur frequently in games but are not exploited and go to waste with a long kick forward generally the outcome. I AM NOT SUGESTING THAT KEEPER’S DRIBBLE WITH THE BALL IN THESE SITUATIONS, but there are often large gaps through which a Goalkeeper can run with the ball without hindrance and deliver a positive pass to his forward players. But the goal is uncovered you are shouting! No, not if one of the back defenders moves into the goal as a cover(no use with the hands of course and remember, the offside rule requires two defending players to secure a positive offensive result and the goalkeeper has become an outfield player and use of the offside rule is possible). The goalkeeper is now, for a short period, an outfield player and can involve him/herself in attacking or defensive play as is necessary(Not with the hands of course). On completing the short or longer ‘journey’ upfield the Goalkeeper can return from the ‘overload’ situation to normal goalkeeping duties.
Yes, something to think about; something to ignore or something to experiment with. Coaching and the future of the game will require courage to try different things. Using all players in attacking play, including Goalkeepers needs to be examined and used if we are to disturb and overcome the closing down and space denial tactics that are becoming so prevalent in football world-wide.
I believe the time will come when a Goalkeeper will break forward from the goal area with the ball at his/her feet, combine with colleague(s) and go on to score a goal. What do you think?