This piece originally ran on December 16, 2010 when we were still on our old platform. Steve Harper was coming back from injury and the big debate was about whether or not the in-form Tim Krul should keep playing regardless. Now that we've opened up a conversation about who should be the #1 goalkeeper when Newcastle goes back to training on July 5, I thought it might be appropriate to re-run this. RKW and I take sides on this issue after the break...
Well, as Americans, we have seen our share of quarterback controversies, which is what this is, essentially. The goalkeeper is the leader on the field, and his position is unique. How he plays dictates how the defenders play, and on up the line. It's a position played by people with egos, and those egos need to be massaged. One theory that I've come up with after watching football coaches handle quarterback controversies is that there are two things that are important to managing such a situation well: being consistent and trustworthy. A goalie, if injured, needs to know that his job is safe if he's injured, if for no other reason that he may hide his future injuries if he thinks that his job will be in jeopardy because of them.
Well, normally I'd be able to agree with you for the most part. But the NUFC situation is unique in that we've known that this would be the year that Harper would be done on Tyneside from the beginning. It was always the plan to have Krul getting starts and seeing if he could prove himself. I think he's done that very well. His save percentage is nice at 67%, he has 3 clean sheets, and except for a spot here and there he has been at the very top of his game since he took over. I know that under normal circumstances you'd say the job is Stevie's once he's fit, but if last week taught us anything it's that the Prem is a cutthroat place to work, and can sometimes be unfair. The fair thing to do would be to have Harper in net, but the smart thing to do is to continue to cultivate your future #1.
Well there you have it. We've solved, well, nothing really, but it was a fun conversation about a problem most teams can only wish they had. Let us know what you think about the Krul/Harper decision, the comments are open, and you are invited.