A goalkeeper is usually hailed when he makes an important save and when he does so much to keep his team in the game. When he makes an important save and keeps a cleansheet, he’s like a hero, and as for Chelsea’s own Thibaut Courtois (a world-class goalkeeper by all standards), his defence has done a good job in protecting him from opposition attacks that he barely gets to make a save these days.
Former Blues player and columnist in Chelsea’s official website, Pat Nevin, has revealed that he feels sorry because he doesn’t get a piece of the action.
He wrote: “I did begin to feel sorry for one of our lads the other day. Poor old Thibaut Courtois, he must be getting very lonely and very cold at the moment. While Chelsea are justly lauded for their recent form, he tends to get left out because he has generally had very little to do over the past five league games. I was only half joking when I said after the Everton game that we had 10 brilliant outfield performances, while Thibaut in goal could have been in good, bad or indifferent form as we didn’t actually get to see him do anything, so we couldn’t tell. Well I suppose he did look very well turned out and he kept his kit nice and clean, so a few marks are due for that I suppose.
So while Chelsea are currently on a five-game, eight-and-half-hour, 16-0 winning streak, maybe Thibaut could look at getting a bit more practice when he turns up for his international games? Or maybe not.
Belgium’s current qualifying record is played four, won four with the running total standing at 21-1. So our number one is currently on a little run of 37 goals for and one against in major tournaments. That is one goal shipped in 14½ hours and well done to Estonia and former Motherwell striker Henri Anier for scoring that goal.”
The Ex-Chelsea player then wrote the strengths Courtois have shown to keep things calm at the back, and it has helped the team become solid at the back too.
“You have got to feel sorry for Thibaut, getting left out of things so much, but then maybe it is a little more complicated than that. Yes, he has been a tad underemployed but they often say that the best goalkeepers are the ones that can go from doing nothing to making a great save in the blink of an eye. He certainly has been doing that, he has been underemployed but not unemployed.
There have also been the crosses he has taken that have relieved the pressure before they are turned into goal-scoring opportunities. These do not show up on the stats after the game as saves but they do stop opportunities before they even happen. His dealing with crosses of late has been exemplary.
There is also a bit of marshalling to be done of those in front of him, and he has become more and more vocal the older he has got. Beyond that there is something even more subtle; defenders who have belief in the guy behind them tend to play with more confidence and more often than not a little higher up the field. If you believe your keeper is going to deal with anything over the top then you can get closer to the forwards and make more tackles, just as Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill have been doing. Defences who do not fully trust their goalkeepers tend to play very differently to those who do and modern managers are keen to underline this.
Take Pep Guardiola at Man City, he has taken this concept to the logical conclusion by insisting his keeper is actually just the same as the rest of the defence when the ball is at his feet. He is supposed to be able to pass, start moves and integrate with the back line, even if it does still look like a work in progress at the moment. Thibaut is certainly playing from the back to some extent, watch how we split as a defence when the ball is at his feet, allowing us to pass the ball out.” Pat Nevin wrote.