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No Keepers For Derby – Is This A Problem?

Ben FosterHorror could be seen on the fans’ faces at Old Trafford yesterday when the referee wrongly showed Tomasz Kuszczak a red card. Our team had battered Portsmouth all game and in attempt to get the winning goal, threw all our players forward on the attack. Portsmouth were given the opportunity to break, initially with 2 versus 1 before Wayne Rooney sprinted back, and as Milan YSB Baros burst in the box, Kuszczak brought him down, Baros’ knee smacking straight in to the keepers face. Despite United having two players behind the ball, the referee sent our keeper off. The problem, bigger than the fact we’d conceded a penalty with ten minutes to go and were down to ten men, was that Kuszczak was our substitute keeper, meaning an outfield player was to go in goal for the penalty.

Rio Ferdinand pulled on the keeper’s jersey, and despite going the right way, no keeper would have been able to get to Muntari’s accurately placed penalty kick. Ferdinand had nothing to do for the remaining time in goal, Portsmouth looking as though they were the team playing with ten men after continued domination from United, but we couldn’t get the crucial goal needed to stay in the FA Cup.

Chelsea’s exit from the Cup, after a humiliating and surprising defeat at the hands of Barnsley, has gone some way to soften the hurt of losing though. After knocking out Arsenal, it seemed as though we’d gifted Chelsea another FA Cup with the blues easily being the best team left in the competition. However, thoughts of the Cup aside, our focus must return to the Premiership.

Arsenal drew their third league game on the trot yesterday afternoon at Wigan, meaning United now have a game in hand on the team at the top, who are now just two points ahead. They’ve squandered their five point lead from a couple of weeks ago and United stand to go top of the league on Saturday if they beat Derby. Arsenal take on Boro later that day.

A win at Derby seems a pretty achievable task, considering they’ve won just one game this season. However, when you consider who United could be playing in goal at the weekend, a win isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion.

There has been no further news on the state of Van der Sar’s groin injury, however he did miss four league games in December and January after his last spate of injury. Kuszczak is now set to face a three match ban following the weekend’s red card. That brings us to Ben Foster, who after his cruciate ligament injury in the summer, has played just one game for the Reserves. Last Thursday he played a full 90 minutes in the 2-1 win over Boro, showing no ill-effects and putting on a solid performance. The only goal of the game came from a controversial penalty. However, whether Foster is ready to be thrown in to the first team is debatable.

That leaves German keeper Ron-Robert Zeiler and Tom Heaton as our other options from the Reserves, with the former having a rather impressive season so far. He put in a blinding performance against Liverpool Reserves earlier this season, pulling off many a spectacular save. But again, question marks will be raised over their ability to cut it in the Premiership just yet.

If Van der Sar is unavailable for the weekend, who do you think we should play in goal?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. denton davey says:

    Foster should be thrown in at the deep end; I have no idea about this kid Zeiler but if he’s good enough to play for UTD’s reserves then he used to facing the level of competition that Derby will provide.

  2. Eddie says:

    Foster shoul start against Derby, he is the best english goalkeper.

  3. jsos says:

    i’ve been hearing all season how once foster is fit, it will be a real fight between the lad and VDS. i reckon now is as good a time as any to test that out. couldnt think of a better opportunity in the season that against derby with VDS injured and no kuz

  4. jimmybob says:

    if he is fit enough to be sent out on loan he is fit enough to play, lets be honest derby shouldnt really be that much of a test

  5. OMelhorDoMundo says:

    All the keepers are the best in their respective categories but I highly doubt that Sir Alex would give such young players the chance to screw up on the big stage. No. He’ll probably go with Foster because Foster is already experienced and even if he does make a mistake, he’ll get over it easily compared to the other two keepers.

  6. franky says:

    It was a red card. Period.

    Even being ManU fans, we have to be able to face the truth, when we/our squad makes errors.

    Where are is the in depth analysis after we didn’t manage it to break Lyon’s defense open and played rather poorly in the CL. What about Rooney’s poor position play during week. What about another yellow for Rooney because of diving on Saturday? Didn’t he already miss Derby weekend, our memorial, after a yellow for diving.

    We played rather well on Saturday, but should have been able to break the deadlock. Actually we should have scored at lest 3, compared to how we dominated. And against Lyon, we also should have scored 3 according to the number of times we outpaced the French defence.

    Com’on. You’ve always shown a great analytical sense. Now the time has come to grow further than just your RoM skin, and be critical not only when times are bad. Also when we just failed.

    Otherwise… yes, Foster should start.

  7. Scott the Red says:

    Franky – there couldn’t have been a red card shown for intent, unless we are to think Kus intentionally went to trip Baros with his FACE. There couldn’t have been a red card for being the last man, because both Rooney and Anderson were behind the ball. On what grounds was it a clear red card?

  8. Tom F says:

    Tom Heaton isn’t injured is he? Or what about Foster? Him and Heaton could play half a game each.

    The rules for a red card aren’t the ‘last man thing’ anymore Scott, it’s if the fouled player has a goal scoring chance, which it’s fair to say he did.

    Derby is not a huge worry, they haven’t scored many and have conceded tons. They are a very awful team, we should be ok.

  9. franky says:

    Scott, having been a goalie myself (Belgian national youth team – a Belgian guy who moved to Manchester after being a ManU fan for more than 14 years), there’s a sad thing we have to face: the goalie will ALWAYS be considered last man when he goes in the feet.

    And honestly, considered the fact that the goalie has the full body to throw in, I think that’s OK. Intent, in many years, I can only remember the fewest cases where a goalie came out with intent, intent other than trying to get the ball (somehow). But point me at one ref who will watch if other players are behind the ball, other than the keeper.

    Nevertheless, I entirely agree with the poor level of refereeing in the Prem and I can think of at least 5 referees who have been against us this season.
    And I also want more protection for players like Ronaldo (and Arteta fe.).

    Still, last I want is to reach the same level as Arsene. A level where the only fault always is someone else. No matter how many chances we spoilt.

    (Disclosure: when I wrote for a ManU blog months ago, someone called me out. Called me out for being a typical frickle ManU supporter. And he was right. He was an even bigger ManU supporter than we both are. Just a little older.
    Yes we can do better. Everyone. Our squad, you and I.) ;)

  10. The Artful Lounger says:

    But this isn’t the first time Kuszczak’s given away a penalty, no? Only he wasn’t sent off durng the Arsenal game last season.

    There’s no point blaming anybody – we should have scored earlier, period. Sigh.

  11. Tom F says:

    I blame the way we defended Pompeys break from James’ long ball. Why that happened I really do not know!

    It was a rare chance to see a red card incident unfold before it actually happened.


  12. Scott the Red says:

    Tom – we were throwing our entire team forward to get the goal. We dominated the game with 10 men as much as we did with 11. It just wasn’t going to happen for us.

    Rooney’s over enthusiasm unfortunately cost us the goal. He left Baros wide open to make up the ground Anderson was losing on his man with the ball. Ho hum. You live and learn. But the fact United play EVERY game to win, there are going to be goals like that we concede.


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