Celtic announced the signing of Fraser Forster from Southampton during the comfortable 2-0 victory over AIK Stockholm in the Europa League play-off round last night.
Technically, it is the fourth time Celtic have signed the giant stopper affectionately known as “The Wall”. The big man from Hexham is third in the pecking order at Southampton so a season long loan spell to a club he knows well seems like good business all round.
Here we’ll look at the pros and cons of Forster returning to the Parkhead club.
He knows the club
Sometimes when either half of the Old Firm enter the transfer market, it is the intangibles that can be the issue. Does the player have the right mentality to cope with the pressure of having to win every week? Forster knows the club having spent four years at Celtic, winning three league titles in the process. He has demonstrated that he has the psychological strength to recover from mistakes in big games to become a key player – 13 consecutive clean sheets in the top flight is testament to this.
Big game reputation
When fine margins dictate the outcome of games and ultimately, league titles, having a player with big game experience is crucial. Forster earned his nickname, The Wall, after a 2-1 victory against one of the finest footballing sides ever seen – Lionel Messi’s Barcelona. Opposition teams know that Forster has performed on the biggest stage and been to a World Cup and European Championship. Not many players in Scotland can claim to have achieved that.
He hasn’t played regular football since 2017 when you look at his statistics on Soccerbase. Nearly two years of relative inactivity. Goalkeepers need to be active. Judging though balls, handling crosses under pressure, timing pass backs and organising a defence under pressure. These skills aren’t easily replicated on the training ground. How will he cope with the external pressure of an away ground?
His distribution is poor
Neil Lennon has said he wants a shot stopper first and foremost and isn’t bothered about distribution. Teams press a lot higher compared to Forster’s first spell at Celtic, question marks will be raised against his ability to deal with the ball at his feet. Celtic may find themselves under undue pressure because of Forster’s flaws. There is also the matter of Scott Bain, Celtic’s current number one, being able to break defensive lines with his passing. The inevitable comparison between the two could increase the spotlight on Forster.
Lennon knows Forster well, so you’d have to think he’ll go straight into the starting XI. Only time will tell if it is the correct decision.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!