So far this pre-season we have seen every one of our keepers play at least a full ninety minutes between the sticks and with 2 more games to go until the big kick off against Arsenal I’m sure some plans are starting to form in Alan Pardew’s head about who he’s going to have as our number one next season.
Pardew has a choice between these three keepers, they are all capable which is something which is comforting for fans as we know that even if the one we want isn’t chosen we still have a capable player playing in his place.
Steve Harper – Steve Harper has only taken part in one game so far this season. The game he played in was against Columbus Crew and in that game he played the full ninety minutes and kept a clean sheet in which was a 3-0 win for Newcastle. I personally cannot remember any time he was tested, so it was a bit of a pointless game for him.
I always feel that the defence seem a little safer under Harper, I’m not sure why as I don’t think he’s the best goalkeeper of the three. His communication with the back four is something which he has over the other two keepers who don’t seem to be vocal enough. The thing the other two have over Harper is years, they are both going to improve whereas Harper is probably going to get worse in the coming years.
Tim Krul – Tim Krul has appeared in only one pre-season game so far this year also with him starting and playing the full ninety minutes against Kansas City, this game was a pretty drab affair and Krul didn’t have a huge amount to do, but did what he needed to do well.
Something that I really like about Krul is his shot stopping ability, he gets to things that you don’t expect him to get to and he makes very brave saves at the feet attackers. Krul also has age on his side and you can see him improve with every performance, his kicking got a lot better in his second spell deputising for Harper last year.
Sometimes Krul makes some poor decisions and steams out of goal – like Chelsea away last season. That will change with age and maturity, so I wouldn’t see it as a huge problem.
Fraser Forster – Fraser Forster is the only goalkeeper who has played twice this pre-season which doesn’t surprise me as he’s someone that Pardew hasn’t seen play a lot. He featured in both the Darlington and Orlando City game. From what I saw of him he looked a capable keeper and somebody I wouldn’t mind being number 1 or number 2. In the Orlando game he conceded but he wasn’t to blame as he was left exposed by the defence. In that game he made lots of very good saves, but the problem is he just looks a bit, well….. lost.
Obviously Forster is also young which is something he has over Harper, but something else he has is a full seasons experience for Celtic, albeit it in a poor league. Due to that Forster seems to want first team football, and he is certainly not going to settle with being number three. Forster’s height means he’s a little slow to get down and he doesn’t seem to be the best under the high ball, but his shot stopping cannot be doubted.
Pardew said that he expected the person who was going to be third choice for the season to leave the club, which is why it is such a tough decision. Harper is a loyal servant to the club and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was our goalkeeping coach in years to come. Also he is a big figure around the dressing room and losing another big character could be a setback for our team spirit.
Tim Krul is a good young keeper and is developing rapidly, so I do not want to lose him at all. Krul in the close season represented Holland at first team level for the first time which shows his improvement. I also rate Forster and feel that he can perform at the highest level.
Really, I’d like us to keep all three, and I’d struggle to pick the keeper who was going to be third choice. Something which I have made up my mind about is my number one, if I had to choose it would go to Tim Krul.
Who would you choose?
PS – This is my 50th article on this site, so, thanks for putting up with me.