How Football Has Developed

Welcome to the second part in my series of blogs, where the main focus is to discuss how football has changed in the past 20 years and how this has impacted each position across the pitch. As the title states, this piece is going to focus on how the position has changed and the subsequent alterations in coaching methods in order to produce players capable of thriving in modern-day football.

How Football Has Developed

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be writing a few related blogs with the main focus being how football has developed/changed over the past 20 years.

My first topic of discussion is how the requirements of each position within football has changed throughout the years!

To do this, I am going to begin at the back with the Goalkeeper, a position in which the requirements in order to be a “top class” goalkeeper has changed vastly.

The Goalkeeper 20 Years Ago!!

If you look back at the goalkeepers who were classed as the best in the world 20 years ago, names such as Schmeichel, Seaman, Van Der Sar & Southall all come to mind. In their day, these were all keepers who’s names were known worldwide and recognised as some of the best keepers in the world at the time.

Something these keepers all had in common, were that they were big units filling most of the goal and almost making it impossible to score a goal in the limited space that was left. They were also extremely commanding individuals, who turned the 18 yard box into no man’s land, daring players to take them on and beat them in the place they were most comfortable.

Now don’t get me wrong, these goalkeepers were amazing, pulling off worldie saves to keep their team in games, and winning vital points for their team. But is this all they did? Were they classed as top keepers because they were good shot stoppers? Would you trust the ball being passed back to these keepers and having to play with their feet?

This is where I believe the requirements to become a great keeper nowadas has changed vastly, because in my opinion, I feel the players mentioned may not have reached the dizzying heights they reached if they played currently. Mainly because, I wouldn’t class them as a complete goalkeeper, unlike some of the keepers who grace the game currently.

The Goalkeeper Now!!

If I ask the same question I asked earlier, who would you reel off as the best goalkeepers of the current game? Names which come to my mind are De Gea, Ederson, Allison, Neuer Donnarumma! All of these players I believe can be classed as the “top class” keepers of the game today.

Now if I compare these names to the ones I mentioned previously I begin to notice a difference in the reason why these are the best keepers currently about. Firstly, I would like to point out, these keepers aren’t necessarily the big units of the past, yes they are tall, but I wouldn’t say they have the stocky structure of the keepers of the past. I also notice something else which is completely different about these players, which is that they can all play with their feet.

This is where I believe the position of the goalkeeper has changed vastly, as it is okay to be a great shot stopper, but I don’t think that will earn you the title of the greatest keeper. I feel in today’s game you have to have more about you, in order to achieve this hotly contested accolade.

You take Ederson for example, how many times have you seen him in positions where you think, why is he there? The answer is many, as he is clearly quite a comfortable ball player and can pick out a pass better than a lot of centre midfielders. I don’t think Seaman or Southall would have been able to do this.¬†

Ederson on the ball in the CDM role, would you see Schmeichel do this?

In order to be classed as one of the greatest keepers today, you have to be able to do more than shot stop, you need to be able to begin attacks, pick out key passes, be an extra man to allow possession to be kept, play as the sweeper keeper to prevent attacks. The expectations and requirements of a goalkeeper are a lot more demandng than they used to be, and I see it as a coaches responsibility in order to recognise the differences and structure their coaching in order to help individuals meet these demands.

How These Changes Should Be Reflected in Coaching!

Gone are the days where taking countless shots at the goalkeeper in a variety of scenarios would suffice as player development. Coaching of a goalkeeper needs to be a lot more in-depth, focusing on developing the skills and abilities of the whole player, rather than just one small aspect. 

Coaching for a goalkeeper today requires as much training with using their feet, as it does with their hands. Sessions should be created which look at how they can distribute, can they be creative with their distribution? Now that is a word which will pop up a lot over the next few blogs, as today a lot of focus is upon getting players to be creative and demonstrating flair.

Continuing on with the type of training which is now suitable for goalkeepers, work must be done on their agility, speed and reactions. Using methods such as ladder work, ducking and diving over heights, fast feet based drills, which will all provide the platform to helping the goalkeeper reach the highest levels.

A lot of what I’ve spoken about regarding coaching is 121 based stuff, however, even in terms of drills involving the whole team have evolved, as speaking from experience¬† always look to include the keeper and I know many coaches are similar. This is completely different to days when the keeper may have gone off on their own for a full session, only to rejoin the team for the game at the end. Goalkeepers are essentially another outfield player now, who can use their hands occasionally, therefore any coach has to recognise this, creating sessions which focuses on these aspects!

Even to the point of tactical coaching, the differences between now and then is clear. Beforehand, it was to be in your box ready for action, whereas now a lot of people look at how the goalkeeper can make an extra player, or how can they prevent a counter attack via their positioning.

Goalkeepeing is not the same as it used to be many years ago, and for me, this change is welcome because the type of football I like to see does involve the goalkeeper and making use of the whole team. If football keeps innovating in this way, I am excited to see what will happen in future years.

Football is a constantly changing game with ever emerging innovation, which changes the way the game is played, coached and analysed. Who knows what the next 20 years has in store for football, but in order to keep up as a coach, you must be prepared to change and innovate.

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into how I think the position of goalkeepers has changed over recent years, and I would love to hear your comments or opinions, on how you think it’s changed. Keep following to hear what I have to say about the change of other positions across the football pitch.

James Redford

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