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Rise of the Footballing Goalkeeper

02/12/2013 12:53 GMT | Updated 29/01/2014 10:59 GMT

Football, like all sport, never stops developing. Formations and tactics become outdated, while positions alter, change and add to their traditional responsibilities. There are numerous examples of this occurring. Playing philosophies such as Tika Taka and Samba have dominated the world game at some points in history. More recently, the role of the striker has been up for debate with the introduction of a false nine.

This article, however, will examine the escalated growth of the 'footballing goalkeeper'. This term refers to a goalkeeper that has been instructed to keep possession for their team. The goalkeeper achieves this by making accurate short to medium passes to their team members while also being hesitant and reluctant to clear the ball long. There are a few footballing goalkeepers in the Premier League. The most obvious being Hugo Lloris, Artur Boruc and David de Gea, while Michel Vorm, Joe Hart and Tim Krul also show hints of this modern goalkeeping trait.

Some football fans may believe this topic lacks any significance in regards to their goalkeeper's performance and ability, but in the last round of Premier League matches, both Hugo Lloris for Tottenham against Manchester City and Southampton's Artur Boruc vs Arsenal, made blunders related to being a footballing goalkeeper.

Artur Boruc's mistake fundamentally highlights the footballing goalkeeper. He received the ball with no one within 20 yards of him. He pivoted his direction three times while Arsenal striker Giroud started to close him down at pace. The Frenchmen finally got to Southampton's goalkeeper, who had possession, and Boruc attempted to Cruyff turn past his opposition. He failed and attempted it a second and third time. He had at least two opportunities to clear the ball out of play, but instead got tackled to allow Arsenal to score.

This is an obvious reluctance to clear the ball long from Boruc, especially given the time he had before Giroud applied any physical pressure. Hugo Lloris's incident was different by the fact that he had cleared the ball long, but in such a way that Manchester City easily stole the ball and created a goal scoring opportunity. Those who follow Tottenham and the French goalkeeper know that he is fairly poor when it comes to kicking long. Lloris rarely attempts a pass further than the half way line and when he does, they are of poor quality. He is most definitely a footballing goalkeeper in the sense that he wants to keep possession close.

There is an argument that if these two players had taken to a traditional goalkeeping philosophy instead, then the mistakes would have been prevented. We could define a traditional goalkeeper as one who takes no risks in possession and clears the ball as far away as possible at every opportunity. A few examples of this goalkeeping type are Tottenham's number two Brad Friedel, Everton's Tim Howard and John Ruddy from Norwich. None of these goalkeepers would have held onto the ball for as long as Boruc did, nor would any of them have failed to clear the ball in Lloris's situation.

Despite the mistakes made by the two individuals in question, a footballing goalkeeper is definitely what is required for a modern football team. Mistakes will be made in any given situation, but they cannot deter the progress and advancement of the sport and playing philosophies. Spain and Barcelona's world dominance over the decade have resulted in most of the footballing world attempting to recreate or utilise large chunks of their game plan.

The foundation of this plan is to keep possession and not inefficiently kick it away. Therefore, the goalkeeper must have the ability to hold onto the ball and make adequate and appropriate passes from which their team can progress. The Spanish way of football may not dominate the next decade, but any future developments, such as Germany's machine like approach, have and will always incorporate this goalkeeping style.

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