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How Important is a World Class Goalkeeper?


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So, wondering about this at the minute. How pivotal and important to a team is a world-class Goalkeeper in terms of actually bringing home trophies and the like? How much would you willingly want to spend on a truly spectacular Goalie for your team? 

The reason that's prompted me to thinking about it is because of what's been happening in my current Journeyman save. It's currently the 26/27 season, I'm managing Southampton, and managing to turn them into a top four side using my weird and wonderful tactical set-up.

In my first season in the Prem using my bizarro system I ended up finishing 2nd in the league, 1 point behind the eventual winners Liverpool. I also managed to win the FA Cup in a final against Chelsea, after penalties. Overall very much an overachievement considering the squad only just got promoted from the Championship, but hey ho. It was fun, the tactic was great, and it was all a good laugh.

Second season in charge with Southampton in the Premier League. Oh man, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster. I've had to contend with the Champions League as well, and the squad definitely struggled with that. We crashed out of that rather embarrassingly;

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Some of the games were just kinda... ridonkulous. And that's not just me being hyperbolic and salty. The 2-6 loss to Milan was one of those games were my Goalie came away with a 5.9 rating He only had to face 7 shots, and he allowed 6 of them to go in. It was dire.

Most recently in the season as well I managed to get myself to the Carabao Cup Final, and the Semi-Final of the FA Cup this season... only for this spectacular mess to occur.

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A 0-1 loss in the Carabao Final,  2-1 loss to Man United in the FA Cup... followed by another ridiculous 1-4 loss to Liverpool. The Carabao Cup Final... Arsenal only had the one chance, my Goalie was in no-man's for it and let it slip in The 1-2 loss to Man United... again, or both goals the 'keeper made clangers. First was by fluffing an absolute non-chance and letting it bounce back in off one of my own defenders, the second was just a pathetic attempt at catching a ball from a corner. Less said about the Liverpool game the better. Other than to say he just completely lost his head and disappeared in the second half.

The recurring theme that seems to separate me from the opposition in all those vital cup games just seems to come down to the Goalkeepers. In as much as mine performs well below, and the opposition team has outstanding games in goal. Without wanting to make a barrage of screenshots, this is the match ratings for the opposition after each game;

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So looking at all the ratings for opposition GK's there, all great. Taking into account the xG from each match as well. Man, what a kick in the teeth for me. Even the Liverpool game. Penalties generally bump up the xG by roughly about 1.0 (I think?), and we both got one... so kind of similar xG for the game. But my man? He goes and lets in 5, while Allison for them was unbeatable (yet again)

My GK's rating across all three games? A nice, boring 6.7. He just really doesn't cut the mustard when I need him to. I don't want to post too many screenshots and show the Goalkeepers I've come up against, but I'm reliably being told that all of them for Arsenal (who as well are currently a 10th place team, by the way), United and Liverpool are all solid 4 star minimum 'keepers. And well all know how amazing Allison is.

Whereas this is my guy that I'm relying upon to handle affairs between the sticks;

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He looks alright, but man... he makes so many clangers. That might be harsh, but the amount of simple shots he lets in is just atrocious. As you can see, he's conceded 150 in 120 apps for me.

That's awful.

I mean, it could be my tactical set-up, there's definitely some vulnerabilities there. I ask him to play as a Sweeper Keeper on Support, and his Rushing Out is awful, as is his Agility. I do notice a chunk of his goals he concedes are him dithering and either being too late or too slow to come out and sweep. But , having said that, just his reflexes, positioning and anticipation just leave him flat-footed a lot, too... I never feel confident about him. Earlier in my season clean sheets were impossible to come by, and a lot of it was down to this guy I felt. So many water bottles thrown at him... I only really have a couple of young prospects who can step in for him, and both of them have severely let me down, too.

But this isn't really about criticising my Hornicek. What I'm thinking now is that to take my team that next step forward, and to really try and go on and develop a silverware winning squad, I feel I need to spend a good chunk of my next transfer budget on a truly great Goalkeeper.

... or do I?

That's what I'm kinda asking. In FM20 I was doing a similar Journeyman save were I ended up at Inter. While there I splurged about £70 million on Alex Meret. For one of many reasons. Namely, he was an amazing 'Keeper at the time, Inter when I took over didn't have a good Goalie and Napoli were at the time the best team in Italy, so poaching their star keeper inherently weakened them.

I always still feel that spending huge sums on GK's is ridiculous. I still remember the days before the whole Ederson, Kepa and Allison fees when GK's were one of the cheapest positions to fill out. Now they're just as expensive as the rest. Especially considering how you usually want an older 25+ as a semi-developed, reliable one. Having said that though, Liverpool went from not winning anything before they had Allison, to ... well, winning a tonne as soon as they got that amazing GK to come in. So there is a logic to it, I think.

What's everyone else do? What's the thoughts on it all?

Edited by SuperBiggles
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I forgot to like... preface this as well with another point. 
 

In as much as, I know how integral it is to have key players who are amazeballs in all positions, that goes without saying. 
 

But if you’re one of those teams trying to slowly establish yourself as a top dog in the league, season by season, due to only being able to make a few good signings a year...

 

... how big a priority is getting that amazing GK for your side? Is it the last priority? Medium level? 

Edited by SuperBiggles
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25 minutes ago, SuperBiggles said:

I forgot to like... preface this as well with another point. 
 

In as much as, I know how integral it is to have key players who are amazeballs in all positions, that goes without saying. 
 

But if you’re one of those teams trying to slowly establish yourself as a top dog in the league, season by season, due to only being able to make a few good signings a year...

 

... how big a priority is getting that amazing GK for your side? Is it the last priority? Medium level? 

Your GK is only part of your defensive line. How you set up your defense, what type of shots are you conceding from are all going to play a huge factor in determining how good is your defence. And without all this info in the first place, it is going to be near impossible to determine how good your GK is.

In FM, what I have found is the best shot stoppers are not necessary the best GK from the first glance. It is definitely possible that a GK from a midtable team is better than a GK from a top team. You will need to delve deeper into the statistics taking into account how the team plays. For me personally, once the weak spots are covered then there is no particular priority to acquire players. If I have identified the GK to be a particular weak spot, then I will get a new GK and if it is not then not a priority then.

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A reliable GK forms the base of your team I splashed out on Ederson on my Arsenal save, with your GKs lack of pace and agility id switch him to GK defend instead of a sweeper keeper.

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Well, a top keeper can be worth points on his own if he makes the saves you need him to make. But the answer to the question really depends on defensive philosophy and how you want to defend. 

There are two general ways I can see of thinking about this. 

1. Your goalkeeper is required to make a lot of saves because your defence is often exposed.

2. Your goalkeeper is required to make the occasional save because your defence is set up to be impenetrable. 

Either way can work, coupled with the correct attacking philosophy. I tend to err towards the second example. My team is set out to defend well and to avoid giving up many chances. So having a great keeper is not that important to me. Obvious to the point where I need him to be competent still, but it is not somewhere I look to change very often. A great keeper will still save you goals, because he will make less mistakes and save more chances (you hope). 

On the other extreme, for example 1, if your goalkeeper is constantly facing chances then having as good a keeper as possible is clearly something you desire. But normally if that is the case your tactic is to score more than the opposition manage. 

In your case, it seems like your keeper could do with improving. He seems not to handle big matches (does it say so in his report card?), and his anticipation and composure are pretty low for the top level. I'd look to upgrade him, especially if he is costing me matches. 

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9 hours ago, dcaine100 said:

A reliable GK forms the base of your team I splashed out on Ederson on my Arsenal save, with your GKs lack of pace and agility id switch him to GK defend instead of a sweeper keeper.

I did try him on GK Defend, but his performance was even worse somehow. He's just ... I don't even know anymore. Half the time now I go into a game, and any time I see the opposition having a highlight I'm expecting us to concede. It's almost to the point now were when he concedes a goal I have just stare at the screen with a bemused smile, thinking "yep, classic Hornicek... living his best life, forgetting to do what we pay him to ****ing do".
 

9 hours ago, sporadicsmiles said:

Well, a top keeper can be worth points on his own if he makes the saves you need him to make. But the answer to the question really depends on defensive philosophy and how you want to defend. 

There are two general ways I can see of thinking about this. 

1. Your goalkeeper is required to make a lot of saves because your defence is often exposed.

2. Your goalkeeper is required to make the occasional save because your defence is set up to be impenetrable. 

Either way can work, coupled with the correct attacking philosophy. I tend to err towards the second example. My team is set out to defend well and to avoid giving up many chances. So having a great keeper is not that important to me. Obvious to the point where I need him to be competent still, but it is not somewhere I look to change very often. A great keeper will still save you goals, because he will make less mistakes and save more chances (you hope). 

On the other extreme, for example 1, if your goalkeeper is constantly facing chances then having as good a keeper as possible is clearly something you desire. But normally if that is the case your tactic is to score more than the opposition manage. 

In your case, it seems like your keeper could do with improving. He seems not to handle big matches (does it say so in his report card?), and his anticipation and composure are pretty low for the top level. I'd look to upgrade him, especially if he is costing me matches. 

In terms of tactic and things, and how it relates to the GK and how much he has to do... this is like a classic example of Hornicek just doing ... ****ing Hornicek things.

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Ignore how the rest of the game is panning out at this stage, and don't pay too close to my team from midfield and above. Was experimenting with a few different roles and stuff ended up winning the game 3-2 in the dead, Watford were in 18th, we're 2nd. We just took a while to get going. Branthwaite and Harwood-Bellis are doing great, Basila is going a bit ... meh. And Hornicek is doing his thing. We've faced 3 shots, 2 on target at this point. Hornicek let one of those shots in. It was from a set-piece...

Not the best example, as set-pieces are a bit fickle of a thing at times. But it's a good example of his total lack of commitment in deciding what to do in the moment. It panned out like this;

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Ball is whipped in, their striker loses his defender (bad work from the defender there, granted). But Hornicek is more or less still within his 6-yard box. Just on the edge. As their striker runs onto the ball and decides to take a few touches to settle it before taking his shot, Hornicek decides to do this;

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He kind of ... half comes out a step. Doesn't rush out quickly enough. Doesn't make himself big. Doesn't stay back and make his best attempt. Or something, or just anything. He just gets himself into this awkward none-zone were he's easier to beat. And their striker just bends it around him. The harder way as well.

Classic Hornicek.

In terms of his report card as well, he doesn't have any real negatives apart from one-footedness. Isn't inconsistent or anything, doesn't feel strongly either way about big games. He's just a dithering moron.

I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I expect too much of him. He is a player I signed back when I took over Southampton when they'd just been relegated into the Championship. And I kind of kept faith in. My staff tell me he's a "good Premier League player. And he is, apparently, over-performing quite a bit in terms of some league average statistics. 

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But I do think it's time to improve him. He is prone to just utterly stupid, questionable moments were he just seems to stop to re-think his life mid-save.

EDIT: just needed to share this...

So, playing the final game of the season now in this save against, games against Leeds. It's a pretty dead rubber of a game. Barring a 20 odd goal swing, we'll finish 2nd, Leeds are safe from relegation and have nothing to play for. Before the game starts I read somewhere that Leeds are the lowest scoring team in the league at this point.

Game starts. Within 28 minutes I'm 2-0, playing well. 

Yet cometh the minute, cometh the absolute donkey.

31st minute Leeds score. Panning out like this;

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They hit us the counter, Kinlan receives the ball and just runs, but finds himself running into this position. Nearing the edge of the box

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My defender comes across, Kinlan is being closed down harder now, so he just attempts a shot. This is the exact moment he hits it. Aaaand he scores. What the **** is Hornicek doing?

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That was their second shot on target in the game. So far, their xG stands at 0.35... Hornicek just dropped to a 6.8 rating.

Again, this is the lowest scoring team in the league.

Classic Hornicek

Edited by SuperBiggles
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In short: a world-class keeper can help you concede (a bit) fewer goals than you would otherwise have, but cannot compensate for defensive weaknesses in your tactic (if those weaknesses exist) and other factors that can affect your team's defensive performance (quality of outfield players and things like that). 

Also, just as "the game rewards logical thinking" (Herne79) when it comes to tactical creation, so too it can punish the opposite. In other words, if you have a well-designed tactic, you can see your team scoring goals from very unlikely situations and/or by players you would virtually never expect to score (given their related attributes). For example, a player with poor longs shots and finishing scores a screamer from 30+ meters. 

Likewise, if your tactic is poorly designed, you can concede (seemingly) ridiculous goals. 

If you focus solely on how good (or bad) your keeper is, you are already in trouble.

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I think one reason of those "clangers" is relatively low Anticipation and Composure.

E.g. LFC's Alisson has those 18 and 17. That might be a crucial difference.

Edited by Sardaukar
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Lookng at the goals you've shown:

Rushing out - 6 - That Keeper is not really going to rush out as much as a better keeper.

He looks to be in a good position, so the issue getting to the Leeds goal could be more to do with Agility\Anticipation IMHO.

But as many have said, never look at just the keeper, defending is done as a team, not 1 man.

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