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The great goalkeeper debate at NUFC

By Lee Ryder on Mar 14, 11 08:29 AM


It might not be an issue just yet but in the fullness of time, Alan Pardew has a big decision to make when it comes to his goalkeeping department.

Two into one just won't go, while three into one makes life even harder - if only the Magpies had the same problem in their attacking frontline.

As Pardew puts it, the current time belongs to loyal and long serving keeper Steve Harper.

The Easington-born stopper was in superb form against Everton and has justified his selection in recent weeks.

Many felt that Harper should have quit the club during the stage when he couldn't get past Shay Given.

But others think that his loyalty to the black and white cause should be respected, I fit into the latter category.

In a world of Big Time Charlies in football, Harper is not one of them.

He could have easily sulked during his stint in the football wilderness but he continued to train hard and stake his claim before being rewarded with a contract when Given went to Man City.

On top of that he still shows a genuine interest in the club's reserve team watching every game where and when possible and must have clocked up hundreds of hours carrying out community work for the Magpies.

How many senior pros bother to do that these days?

Harper has also incredibly been overlooked by England during a dire time of need when it comes to goalies.

Then you have Tim Krul.

It as only the other night that I witnessed a superb showing from the Dutchman in the reserves against Arsenal.

Speculation has been rife that Krul could go in the summer but surely doing so would be letting one of Europe's top young goalies leave the club.

Krul dismissed the talk as "garbage" in an interview after the game.

For many Toon fans he could be the long-term answer to life between the posts at United.

Fraser Forster has proven to be a an exciting find from the club's youth system.

The giant Hexham lad is proving in the SPL he can live with life in the fast lane.

Forster could well be recalled next season and will be 23 this week.

At 6ft 7in he stands taller than most keepers in Europe and the player is an excellent shot stopper.

Having proved himself with Celtic he would have every right to bang on Pardew's door next summer and ask where he stands in relation to the number 1 spot.

One option for Pardew is to loan out Forster or Krul again while Harper continues to enjoy his peak goalkeeping years.

But it's a big decision and letting go of either Krul of Forster could come back to bite Newcastle where it hurts.

There's also an excellent understudy emerging in the shape of Jak Alnwick.

Unlike Forster, Alnwick is already being fast tracked by England and has youth international caps.

All of them are big decisions for Pardew but nice ones to have to make.

For now the great goalie debate continues to rumble on.

7 Comments

Terry Tibbs said:

No debate for me Harper is still streets ahead of the other two so should remain as number 1.
Forster is playing at championship level at best & Krull hardly set the worls alight earlier this season, both in my opinion are no where near Harper's level at present.
It's not that long ago when some people argued Harper was a better keeper than Given who at that point was one of the best if not the best in the PL now some people are suggesting Harper's not even good enough to keep two kids out of the team, some people have short memories.

tony toon said:

IMO a voice of reason. I couldn't believe it when a poll appeared on on of the blogs over the last few days and Forster won hands down. How many, I ask, have seen the lad play apart from the odd highlight maybe of Celtic. I live in Glasgow where the city lives on a diet of the Old Firm and I can't say I have even now seen enough of Forster to form any opinion - good or bad. He seems to be doing a job for Celtic OK but Krul did little wrong when he had the chance but still is nowhere as commanding as Harps. Is it just a case of grass being greener?

toonagain said:

Harper i feel was a better keeper across the board then given, although given shot stopping was fantastic. harper defends his area that much better taking the pressure of the defenders, where given left them exposed. i don't think its a coinsidence that our defence has performed much better since given left. manccini, i think would agree with this statment. the fans loved given and he knew it, this is how he kept his place over harper. having said i feel had harper left at this point possibly under robson he would of found himself in the england team. krul has done well but the defence weren't as composed with him between the sticks. not seen enough of foster to have an opinion but i guess krul Ns foster would have to fight it out for No1 position but why would we drop harper hmmm its a tough one alright.

toonjoy said:

Anyone who thinks Harper is not deserving of being our no.1 goalkeeper should leave NUFC and go support another club and i mean that. He is the most loyal footaballer of his generation - more loyal than players like Giggs. Coz just imagine if Giggs was always sat on the bench for donkeys years, will he have stayed at MUFC? Me thinks not.

kennoo said:

no contest harps gets the nod...krul and foster will get their chance if they are prepared to wait as did harps did.he could go around for another season or two and has been a great and loyal servant of the club..what a breath of fresh air in these times of football predators and cash hungry player managers

steve shear said:

Don't know why this article needed to be written. Harper is amongst the best keepers in England, and, if the England management staff picked form players, he would have had a couple of caps by now. However, he is aging and, therefore NUFC need to hang on to Krul and Foster, decent contracts for both of them, and one of them out on loan is sound management....

FabulousFreddy said:

Forster is the best of the 3 in terms of long term potential. Harper has been great & a loyal servant to the club, but at 36 he isn't going to get any better. Forster is the real deal & a definite future international. Standing 6 Foot 7 is a hell of an advantage. However, all of this debate is academic as it is almost that Ashley will sell him. Forster is a local lad, educted in Newcastle & cost nowt as he came through the academy, just like Andy Carroll. Celtic are a rich club & will want to keep him. The greedy cockney will wnat to cash in. Another one bites the dust I'm afraid.

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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