The heading of my latest blog sums up how I feel at the moment with peoples views on goalkeeping in general, goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches.
From all my experiences over the years both from playing myself and through my coaching career so far I have to say, managers and outfield coaches in "general", not all but in general couldn't care less about goalkeepers but are very quick to moan when the ball hits the back of the net. STOP..................THINK............................REWIND..........now start at the top end of the pitch:
Has the striker given the ball away needlessly with a bad touch, a bad pass or a bad shot?
Has the Striker bothered to shut down the full back or centre back to try and stop them playing out easily?
Has the wide midfielder worked hard enough to stop the full back or opposition wide midfielder breaking?
Has the central midfielder got a tackle in?
Has the midfield in general given the ball away cheaply?
Has the midfield tracked their men back and stopped them getting into the box un-marked?
Has the midfield been caught out of position allowing the opposition through too easily?
Has the full back stopped the cross coming into the box?
Has the centre back won his header or tackle?
Has the centre back marked his man tightly?
Has the defence or midfield given away a needless free kick in a dangerous area?
Hopefully you are starting to see where I am going with this. If you analyse each goal you can take it back to where the move first started and see who hasn't done their job and how the ball has eventually got anywhere near your goal before you even start looking at why the goalkeeper hasn't been able to keep the ball out. No it's easier to just blame the goalkeeper it seems.
When teams do concede goals, yes the goalkeeper can at times be at fault and have done better to prevent that goal I am not denying this and a goalkeeper and a goalkeeping coach should first look to see what could of been done better from a purely goalkeeping aspect. The trouble is when a team is conceding goals regularly whether the goalkeeper is directly responsible for a goal or not, confidence will naturally be affected. It's at times like these the goalkeeper has to have a strong character and personality about them and shrug off what has happened, reflect briefly yes but then forget about it and move on to the next game or next moment in the match.
"You cannot affect or change the past, but you can make a difference to the future"
Therefore when a goalkeeper has made a mistake or let a goal in the thing I look for is what they do next, do they go into their shell, sulk or make further mistakes or are they positive and play their normal game and not allow it to affect them. It's those that have the ability to shrug it off and be positive that are the successful goalkeepers.
I have seen and heard through my own eyes and ears when a coach or manager has moaned about a goalkeeper over a goal or game they have played yet when that goalkeeper has made a great save or had a great game you hear the phrase "Thats what they are there to do"........I also remember having a debate with a striker once when our team's goalkeeper got a "man of the match award" and he moaned the same thing "Thats what he is paid to do, make saves" and my response was that working on that principle every time that striker failed to score in a game that surely mean't he WASN'T doing his job and should be dropped!!
On a number of occasions I have been sat in the dugout in both youth and senior football and the coach or manager of that respective team has turned and moaned at me that the goalkeeper hasn't come for a cross, or should of done this or that. The thing is that works both ways as perhaps I should pass comment everytime an outfield player miss-times a pass, misses an open goal, fails to make a good tackle, doesn't mark his man etc....the list goes on......
Yet after all of this has that coach or manager given due care and attention to the goalkeeper in the training during the week or in the pre-match warm up or has he just concentrated on the outfield players and left the goalkeeper to his own devices without any specialised help, support or encouragement. Probably not as most outfield coaches and managers are obvlivious to the needs of a goalkeeper so don't even think about it.
This leads me on as a prime example to the strange attitudes at the FA itself and a coaching process I just cannot make sense of. Through the coaching pathway at the FA, as I have worked through my badges to be a goalkeeping coach I have had to do it in this order: Level One outfield, Level One Goalkeeping, Level Two outfield, Level Two Goalkeeping, UEFA B Licence outfield, UEFA B Licence Goalkeeping. I now want to do my UEFA A Licence Goalkeeping but have to do my UEFA A Licence outfield first......which is a 2-3 year course and costs around £3,500 pounds!!!! The last course I tried to enquire about was over-subscribed so my pathway is being blocked financially (as I now can't afford it, wheras at the time Swindon Town were prepared to fund it) and in terms of time it will take for me to get to UEFA A Licence goalkeeping.
I repeat that you have to pass the outfield qualification BEFORE you can pass the goalkeeping qualification. I am told that you need to have the outfield knowledge as this affects the goalkeeping element in the game. So working on that theory you would naturally assume that to become an outfield coach you would also have to do the goalkepeing qualifications as well................WRONG!!!! You never have to take a goalkeeping qualification if you don't want to and can work all the way through up to Pro Licence. Nobody has ever explained to me the reason behind this or how that can be fair and right but basically it means to become a goalkeeping coach you need to be more qualified and knowledgable than an outfield coach!
No wonder goalkeepers stick together and you hear often about the "Goalkeepers Union" its because it can be a thankless position to play or coach, you need thick skin and a strong character and you get little support.
Having said all of that and got it off my chest, it won't stop my enthusiasm to try and help, encourage and improve all that I work with both in youth and senior level football.