Terry Christie: As outfield players keepers are in the ‘cannae play’ category

Former Meadowbank manager is not a fan of ball-playing goalies

Manchester City’s Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson is comfortable on the ball but most keepers are ‘shut your eyes bad’ in possession, says Terry Christie. Picture: Javier Soriano/AFP
Manchester City’s Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson is comfortable on the ball but most keepers are ‘shut your eyes bad’ in possession, says Terry Christie. Picture: Javier Soriano/AFP

For 43 years I was paid for playing or managing football teams. Football has been my passion. Why is it then that I am losing my enthusiasm for watching it? Don’t get me wrong – before the shutdown I still watched a lot of football, both live and on television. At live matches I would stay to the end sustained by the chat of my friends in what is a highly sociable occasion. But when at home watching football on the television I got bored and found myself searching Netflix to find something more enjoyable.

The main reason for my disaffection is that sitting looking at defenders passing the ball about in their own half of the field is up there with watching paint dry. It is just boring. Amazingly I often hear some brainwashed fans applauding when the right-back passes it to a centre-back who then passes it back to the goalkeeper who passes to the left-back. And what about the idea that the goalkeeper is to be the instigator of attacks?

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Recently I asked a friend who is a goalkeeping coach if he could name any goalkeeper in Scotland who would be selected as an outfield player for any decent part-time team. He could not come up with any names. Football teams are made up of ten highly-skilled outfield players and a goalkeeper who is highly skilled at catching and punching the ball.

As outfield players keepers are in the “cannae play” category. How can it be a good idea to pass the ball to the “cannae play” goalkeeper when he is in his own six-yard box and being shut down by an eager striker who most certainly can play?

Watch Match of the Day, watch Sportscene and every weekend you will see a keeper being caught in possession and losing a goal. Those of you with the temerity to disagree with me will be saying, “Well the Liverpool and Man City keepers are good with the ball at their feet”. Agreed but these are the exceptions to the rule that goalkeepers are “shut your eyes bad”when in possession. I do not undervalue possession of the ball and I do not enjoy seeing the ball being kicked aimlessly up the park but I do want the ball going forward at every opportunity.

The teams I do enjoy watching are Liverpool and Celtic who get it forward much more quickly than other teams.

It has always intrigued me that when a team is a goal down with only minutes to go the passing back stops and the ball starts to get launched into the opponents’ penalty area. I understand that time is running out and there is a pressure to get it forward early. But if this is universally accepted as the best way to chase a goal why is this method not adopted earlier in the game?

Being under house arrest just now I have taken to watching with great pleasure Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team when RyanGiggs et al were strutting their stuff. Very little passing the ball back. Those were the days my friend.

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