For a long while now, Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, has threatened to play his goalkeeper, Ederson, in midfield during a Premier League game. The Spaniard often says with a wry smile that the 27-year-old is good enough to play outfield, but despite Guardiola’s confidence in his goalkeeper’s ability, Premier League supporters are yet to be treated to the sight of the Brazilian bossing the midfield.
Although, having said that, we did get a taste of what to possibly expect if it ever did happen after the events that played out during a Premier League game between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2019. With City leading three-nil and Ederson having very little to do all afternoon, it seemed that the monotony of standing between the sticks untroubled finally got to Ederson.
Ederson’s Light-Bulb Idea
Adama Traoré was closing in on the City goal before Ederson did what he does so well, intercepting the ball before the winger could get there. However, not content with merely having cleared the danger, the goalkeeper proceeded to carry on his mosey in the outfield by tackling Morgan Gibbs-White, before sharing three passes with İlkay Gündoğan and Fernandinho. Incredibly, this all played out whilst the City goal stood unprotected 50 yards away. Eventually, the 27-year-old began a very relaxed jog back to the goal as Guardiola looked on mystified.
"Even the goalkeeper could play in centre-midfield!"
Man City's Ederson is as calm as they come on the ball. pic.twitter.com/mUApqetSTO
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 1, 2017
Guardiola made no secret of his annoyance at the sequence of events and felt that Ederson showed a lack of judgment and game awareness by doing what he did. Perhaps the Brazilian lost all his outfield privileges that day and that is why Guardiola has never stuck to his word of playing him in the center of the park. Irrespective of his rush of blood, his antics made for sensational viewing and undoubtedly would have convinced a lot of the neutrals to begin watching football.
It probably tells you a lot about Guardiola’s priorities that when pushed, he would much rather win football matches than put on an exhibit for the pleasure of football fans around the world. It’s that mindset that makes him a born winner and he’s set to compete for the Premier League title again this year providing Ederson doesn’t spring any surprises on his team. It must be noted that even if City are backed to win most of their games this season, their odds do fluctuate during a game.
Indeed, this is down to the goalkeeper’s erratic nature. For instance, the odds on both teams to score may be high before kick-off, but should Ederson pull a stunt as he did against Wolves, the in-play betting odds on the other team scoring will drop dramatically. That’s because online sport betting sites like LegalBetting.com adjust in-play bets constantly as the circumstances of matches change. So if Ederson comes charging out, possibly gifting the opposition the chance to score a goal, expect to see some immediate changes in the markets as the keeper puts his team’s chances on the line as he channels his inner Johan Cruyff.
Now, this short tale is the condensed version of the abilities and almost arrogance of the modern-day goalkeeper. Gone are the days where keepers were just asked to protect their goal at all costs. Their remit on match day has grown exponentially.
The Men for All Seasons
In many ways, the goalkeeper is tasked with reading the danger and is expected to start the move once having put out any fires. Indeed, if a long ball catches out the defense then the keeper has to successfully see to it by sweeping up the danger. Although, in days gone by, any keeper that booted a probing long ball into row Z was given a hearty applause by the home fans as he sprinted back to his goal, that simply won’t do now.
Despite being under huge amounts of pressure, the keeper is asked to control the ball and find a teammate instead of launching it out of the ground. Naturally, this has led to some catastrophic mistakes at the back given how risky this strategy is. It’s fair to say that not all goalkeepers have the skills to carry out what is asked of them, especially the older generation. Indeed, many careers have fallen on the rocks and died a slow death, adding weight to the old adage that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Petr Cech was the most high profile casualty of this despite insisting he was comfortable to play it out from the back.
The howler from the Brest goalkeeper. 😰
The awareness from Sarr. 😱 pic.twitter.com/E1a8A0s0je
— Goal (@goal) December 6, 2019
Cech isn’t alone though and to give him the absolute credit that he deserves, he enjoyed a glittering career, only the game has now moved on. The same can be said for the game’s finest ever keepers like Peter Schmeichel or David Seaman, immense in their day but put them into a Pep Guardiola team and it would be carnage.
The modern-age goalkeeper is very much a different breed and resembles that of a gun-slinging maverick with very little regard for the rules, but ultimately, they have made football a lot more entertaining.
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