Southampton supporters were left with mixed emotions in the Transfer Tavern on Sunday after seeing their side only manage a 1-1 draw away to Brighton in the Premier League, yet still move up a place to ninth in the table.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their clash with the Seagulls off the back of beating West Brom 1-0 at St Mary’s, and they opened the scoring at the AMEX Stadium early on courtesy of Steven Davis’ second of the campaign. However, the visitors were unable to get the crucial second goal against their South Coast rivals and as such Chris Hughton’s side responded just after the break, with Glenn Murray bagging for a second successive game after meeting Pascal Gross’ cross with a towering header.
Thus, several of our resident Saints fans were left underwhelmed once again by their side despite moving up to ninth in the Premier League table, and the role of goalkeeper Fraser Forster in Brighton’s leveller has been called into question by many of those lining up at the bar.
The England international made the move to St Mary’s back in 2014 and enjoyed his time between the sticks in his first campaign, before a broken kneecap near the end of it thwarted his first team chances in the succeeding season.
And the 29-year-old has since struggled to hit those heights on a regular basis and appears completely bereft of confidence at present, with his positioning for Murray’s equaliser on Sunday particularly questionable.
And given Forster has made a few errors already this season, notably against Manchester United and Newcastle United, it’s surely time for Pellegrino to give the club’s number two goalkeeper Alex McCarthy a chance between the sticks.
And that’s because Forster’s errors are severely costing Southampton, and ultimately if McCarthy doesn’t get a chance soon, he’s not going to get one at all at St Mary’s.
27-year-old McCarthy made his name at Reading during the Royals’ ill-fated Premier League campaign back in 2012/13, most notably in 0-0 draws against Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool, the latter in which he made several impressive saves to keep Brendan Rodgers’ side out.
And those shot-stopping qualities are exactly what the Saints need at this present time, as there is uncertainty over Forster’s capabilities every time an opposition launches an attack – he is clearly suffering a crisis of confidence, and although dropping him isn’t going to help that, continuing to play him isn’t helping the team.
His initial save to deny Ayoze Perez against Newcastle a fortnight ago was decent but it should have gone behind for a corner, and he then made a crucial error in the follow-up by giving the Spaniard somewhere to aim at, instead of making himself big and cutting off all angles.
McCarthy proved during his short time at Reading, and indeed recent spells at QPR and Crystal Palace, that he is a more than adequate deputy who is a good shot-stopper and has good command of his box, and having him in the side may actually benefit the Saints back line, as it can’t be easy for them to defend in front of a struggling Forster at present.
And given that some Southampton fans are getting a little bit restless with Pellegrino already, given that their side aren’t particularly impressive going forward and have only won three league games so far, the manager himself will be feeling the pressure should Forster’s form fail to improve in the coming weeks.
Thus, the Saints boss simply must drop the 29-year-old in favour of £2.7 million-rated ace McCarthy (as per Transfermarkt) when the South Coast outfit return to Premier League action against Burnley on Saturday.
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