Post by rpbenchwarmer on Jul 27, 2011 9:40:17 GMT 8
Neil said after signing a 2 year extension with Fulham that he's aiming to be loaned out by lower league club in England. He's also considering a club in Switzerland to gain first team experience. A stint in League One, Two or Swiss Challenge League would be great a development and experience for Neil.
We will all without a shadow of a doubt remember for as long as we live that ballistic missile with which Stephan Schrock properly introduced himself to Kuwait in that second leg match at the Rizal Memorial last Thursday. We may also remember – although, for the wrong reason – the 51st minute shot with which Phil Younghusband should have scored and sent Kuwait dazed and well and truly backed into a corner.
What can easily be buried in forgottenness was the sublime long ball that Neil Etheridge, after calmly collecting possession, quickly launched at the other end for Younghusband to bring down with an excellent first touch, work into a better angle and subsequently shoot at goal. The chance needed no finesse whatsoever to do justice to Etheridge’s pass. At that distance, all Younghusband ever needed to do was to just whack it. As happened, the shot lacked sting; and Nawaf Al Khaldi in the Kuwait goal was allowed to save.
In that split second of other-worldly decision-making, the young Etheridge showed all of us the oft-overlooked side of goalkeeping – the attacker and the passer. The man between the sticks – or, sometimes, the man who stands alone – has traditionally been thought of as a defender. By and large, yes; the goalkeeper is a defender.
When a team formation is released – such as a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1 – no number is ever assigned to a goalkeeper because it is simply assumed as a matter of course that there will be a goalkeeper behind the defenders. However, the moment a goalkeeper safely collects the ball in his arms, he becomes the player from which his team’s subsequent attack will originate.
Often a goalkeeper plays the ball short to a defender or midfielder, which makes people overlook his potential as an attacker. It is when those long accurate balls are launched from deep in defence that we all sit up and take note of the fact that the goalkeeper can indeed be every bit a maker of goalscoring chances as any outfielder.
This is why, with his kicking abilities and an intellect that enables him to size up the entire field – as opposed to the immediate vicinity – Etheridge is highly thought of by the coaching staff at Fulham in the English Premiership. Lesser goalkeepers would have stalled for time to allow the defence a breather; but Etheridge had seen Younghusband and decided in a split second to send that ball upfield. The decision was made so quickly that even the television cameraman was caught off-guard and struggled to keep pace with the pass.
Those in basketball will tell you how much safer and accurate a pass to a team-mate is if it is made over a short distance as compared to one hurled along the whole length of the court. Mind, the pass – in basketball – is made with the hands. Those who have never kicked a football will have absolutely no idea how difficult it is to be as accurate as that 70- or 80-yard pass with which Etheridge found Younghusband.
Never mind the kicking ability; it was the vision that set the pass apart from others that the same goalkeeper had made over the last few matches. It is the same sort of vision that has made the Spanish international Pepe Reina so highly thought of in the English Premiership. It is the vision that highlights the goalkeeper as not simply a man who keeps out the shots but also potentially a man who can set up goals at the other end.
In a way, this Kuwait tie has been a coming-of-age for young Etheridge. In the Kuwait leg, while he let in three goals, Etheridge was still easily the better ‘keeper than his counterpart at the Kuwaiti goal, Al Khaldi. While the latter flapped at a couple of high balls that really ought to be bread-and-butter for any self-respecting goalkeeper, Etheridge’s handling was impeccable. The ball he punched to safety from a right wing cross when under pressure from onrushing Kuwaiti attackers was class personified. I had seen famous international ‘keepers flail at similar crosses; but Etheridge was spot on in his decision-making and timing.
At the Rizal Memorial, the youngster gave an even better display of top class goalkeeping. Who can forget the shot from deep in midfield that he pushed wide of the right upright in the 23rd minute? What about the 44th minute shot that he managed to push with his fingertips against the left upright? His angles were probably slightly off before the shot; but the quickness of his recovery and his long reach denied Kuwait what would have been a deflating opening goal.
Time was when – even in top-flight football – 6-foot flat was thought of as reasonable height for a goalkeeper. In the modern game – with neurotic light footballs – more inches in terms of height and arm reach is thought of as a definite advantage. Etheridge is 6’ 3” – are we not the lucky ones?
To illustrate, when I was in college in the late seventies, we played this friendly against a visiting team of Swiss businessmen based in Hong Kong. They were not very good; but they had this 6’ 5” goalkeeper with arms that made King Kong look like a harmless pet monkey. We totally dominated play; but the ‘keeper kept us out. I remember having cut in from the right wing and let loose one low and hard right foot shot from top of the box that would have floored most ‘keepers. The Swiss giant merely stooped down to one side – he did not even bother to dive – and with one gloved hand stifled the shot. I felt insulted.
The Etheridge that we saw in the AFC Challenge Cup was perhaps not the same dominating figure that we saw in the Suzuki Cup. There were also moments – such as in the home leg of the Mongolia tie and the training game against the UFL All-Stars – when the lad could look utterly disinterested. This is where the coaching staff – both at Fulham and the national team – comes in. Consistency is one of the trademarks of a top-class goalkeeper – although even famous ones are also prone have to the occasional howler.
The essentials are already all in our young goalkeeper: height, reach, athleticism, skills and decision-making. It is, perhaps, in playing at the same level whether we are up against an expensively assembled Middle Eastern team or an upstart team from north of nowhere that we all would like to see more of. He will find that the stronger our team becomes, he will have prolonged moments within the course of a match with absolutely nothing to do. It then becomes more of a challenge to the mind than to the body when he will be called upon less to make the same sort of saves he pulled off against the Kuwaitis.
I do not think for one moment that most people fully appreciate Etheridge’s committing to play for our national team instead of the Three Lions. It is easier to understand Ray Jónsson’s expressing intent at the twilight of his career. Almost thirty, chances probably were that Jónsson would not be called up by Iceland for international football.
But Etheridge was 18 – albeit, by his own admission, he had to think long and hard about it. He was a schoolboy England international and now number 3 at Fulham. While England does not really have a shortage of talented shot-stoppers, who really knows when Etheridge is – at the present – a mere 21 and has a whole career ahead of him? All I know is that I will feel eternally grateful to his Mum for having migrated to the UK when she did. God knows what our recent opponents would have paid for him to have a Kuwaiti mother, instead!
One of these days, as the youngsters in the national team get more seasoned with experience and the whole team becomes more cohesive, we will play more and more with a higher defensive line because we will be able to take the game to our opponents pretty much like the Kuwaitis did to us in both legs of the World Cup tie. Experts will tell you that defenders become more confident going forward if they have a reliable goalkeeper at the back.
That, we do. Not just an excellent stopper, but also one who can – as we all saw at the Rizal Memorial – be the source of many split-second counter-attacks and possibly goals. How many teams around Asia – nay, the world – have such a ‘keeper? We do; and it offers our team a different and exciting dimension. It is called the Etheridge factor.
I would love to know your say on this: should Neil go out on loan to a Championship or even a first division club this Premier League season?
Fulham's 2nd choice keeper, David Stockdale, will be on loan to Ipswich for the whole of the 2011-12 season, but Fulham have just signed another keeper (Csaba Somogyi) on a 1-year contract as backup to Mark Schwarzer, so Neil is still in the situation of being 3rd choice keeper.
Its pretty obvious that Stockdale will be first choice when Schwarzer retires, since he's already been called up to the England squad and played a few games last season, so would it be best for Neil to move to a lower-level club for a few months to get experience? Or should he stay and fight for the no.2 spot with Somogyi, and maybe get a few Carling Cup games and perhaps premier league if Schwarzer gets injured, if he manages to prove himself a better keeper than the new guy?
Good thing during the Fulham vs. Aston Villa fixture last Saturday that Neil was made as the substitute to Schwarzer instead of Somogyi. He tweeted that he wanted to keep his #2 spot as long as possible.
Tough call for Neil, what does everyone think?
Last Edit: Aug 14, 2011 1:37:32 GMT 8 by stellarboy
"Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV)
I'd say any level from League Two up is good enough for me. We have yet to see Neil make his senior game debut on club level. Whether is for Fulham, Oldham, Wrexham, what's important is that Neil's talent can be gauged within some level of competition. Historically, Premiership teams would loan out their young goalies to the lower leagues and sign a veteran as their number 2 goalie, so hopefully that would be the case for Neil.
Last Edit: Aug 14, 2011 11:25:08 GMT 8 by feindouno
Neil was on the Fulham bench in the game against Aston Villa yesterday. Recent goalkeeper signing Somogyi was not. (Score 0-0)
Does this mean that Neil is truly #2 while Stockdale is away, or will he be alternating/sharing places with Somogyi in in the bench? A part of me would like to believe that Neil is truly #2, but another part also thinks that we will be seeing Somogyi as well or even more often. Remember, he was Martin Jol's first signing and at 26 years old has more experience.
Many of Fulham supporters are doubtful of Etheridge just because he represented his other half, the Philippines, a country which doesn't rate well in world rankings, as they say so.
But if I were to ask, I believe Neil will be the #1 goalie in the next 3-4 years. Stockdale and Somogyi have a lot of years to go as GK when Schwarzer retires. But Neil will be GK in the near future. He will.
And being with the Philippines is an honor in itself, being watched and praised by thousands in Asia. That's his real advantage there given he plays in one of the world's most prestigious football leagues.
Last Edit: Aug 15, 2011 13:41:33 GMT 8 by stellarboy
"Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV)
idiopathic: any news for the upcoming president cup?
May 1, 2013 13:56:22 GMT 8
cjeagle: cjeagle. If you want to stay in this website, do not impersonate the moderators. You are warned.
May 1, 2013 21:28:25 GMT 8
krazzyfoot: First (mixed) Pinoy to play for the Champions League trophy!!! David Alaba from FC Bayern...great talent at only age 20!
May 3, 2013 1:19:09 GMT 8
Fool: I'm too
May 3, 2013 21:10:18 GMT 8
Fool: I'm a Tottenham hot spurs fan too.... Gareth Bale!
May 3, 2013 21:13:37 GMT 8
Fool: i hope Bale will keep on playing at spurs...
May 3, 2013 21:14:48 GMT 8
Madridista: Hala Madrid!
May 3, 2013 23:36:37 GMT 8
manglando: Good Morning, We are starting to form a soccer club, I am just wondering how much is the coach salary per month. His students are normally in elementary and high school.
May 4, 2013 10:51:58 GMT 8
krazzyfoot: depends...what country r u in? many coaches do it for almost free, since their kids r in the club, too...kinda hobby for them. I dont suppose you'll hire pro coaches, coz they will cost you a lot...
May 4, 2013 16:53:10 GMT 8
manglando: I am from the Philippines.
May 4, 2013 21:32:05 GMT 8
krazzyfoot: I like that idea...pls give some info..r there other clubs in your area, you can compete with? if so, how many? about the coaches salary: estimate how many hrs he'll be working with the kids and offer him the salary rate per hour of an PE-teacher +10%
May 5, 2013 7:18:18 GMT 8
brono: u can have it per head/sessions
May 5, 2013 13:46:39 GMT 8
manglando: Soccer is very much alive in our city. We normally play seven aside and futsal due to limited space to play on. This summer, the kids attend the sessions about 30 hrs a week but comes schools days it will be cut in 1/2 since they go to different school.
May 5, 2013 15:58:36 GMT 8
materkush: guys whats the score of kaya stallion match my tv went blurred when the game was on half time.damn cable wire guy LOL and i do hope that AKTV would fix there signals.
May 7, 2013 22:18:02 GMT 8