Tag Ben Foster

Tag Ben Foster

Foster criticises United fans, oversteps the mark

May 22, 2010 Tags: Shorts 10 comments

In an astonishingly naïve interview Ben Foster has criticised the green and gold protest movement, dismissed the Glazer family’s ownership as nothing more than ‘a technicality’ and claimed that there is no shortage of investment in the transfer market. Foster moved to Birmingham City this week for around £6 million.

Speaking after the goalkeeper’s transfer out of Manchester United, Foster claimed that the protest movement this season had become a distraction to the players.

“There’s maybe too much made of it by the supporters,” said the stopper who played just 26 times in five years at the club.

“They are obviously passionate about Manchester United, but sometimes they need to focus on supporting the club a bit more than getting carried away with the technicalities of who’s in charge.

“Personally, I think the Glazers have always put money in to Manchester United to buy players when needed. Having said that, I don’t think the manager needs to buy too many players there anyway. They have a lot of good youngsters coming through the ranks.”

Foster’s tirade is surprising for both it’s source and inaccuracy, with United running a net transfer surplus under the Glazers and few believing that the family will invest in this summer’s market.

Perhaps even more pertinently many supporters see ownership as far more important than a technicality, with the future of the £716.5 million indebted club at stake.

Not good enough to make it at Old Trafford, Foster’s comments smack of a player keen to offload his personal failure onto supporters.

Enjoy Birmingham Ben, but in future leave matters of United to the supporters.

Foster completes Brum move but will United buy a replacement?

May 18, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 7 comments

Ben Foster completes a medical this morning as Birmingham City seal a £6 million deal for the Manchester United goalkeeper. Foster, 26, will move to the Midlanders this summer after five largely frustrating years at Old Trafford. The deal includes £4 million up front and a further £2 million dependent on performances and international caps.

Foster, who played 13 times for United last season, began the campaign as Sir Alex Ferguson’s number one but a series of high profile mistakes, including in the derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford, consigned the Leamington-born player to the reserves.

The ‘keeper’s long-term position at the club, despite Ferguson’s promise that the England international would stay, effectively ended when Edwin van der Sar signed a one-year contract extension earlier this year.

Foster will replace Joe Hart at St. Andrews, with the City ‘keeper heading back to Eastlands this summer after a year on loan in Birmingham. It is with no little irony that Hart has replaced Foster in the England set-up as the United stopper’s form dipped during the campaign.

But Foster will leave United with the best wishes of supporters. A fine young ‘keeper, Foster was found out with the pressure finally placed on his shoulders after four years in the reserves or on loan elsewhere.

It hardly helped the Foster that United’s defence suffered so many injuries in the early part of last season, while Ferguson’s promise that the stopper had a long-term role at United was clearly misleading. After all the club accepted the first bid for the player this summer.

With Foster now departed, van der Sar approaching 40 and Tomasz Kuszczak few supporters’ choice as the long-term United number one, Ferguson may move for a new ‘keeper this summer.

The club watched Schalke’s Manuel Neuer, CSKA’s Igor Akinfeev and the brilliant Hugo Lloris of Olympique Lyonnais in the past year.

While many believe Lloris, who had a superb campaign in the Champions League, is the best of the three, Lyon’s notoriously hard-nosed chairman Jean-Michel Aulas ensures that the ‘keeper will command a fee in excess of £15 million.

Olympique Marseille’s French number two Steve Mandanda has also claimed interest from United, although many who have seen the Congolese-born player’s erratic performances over the past five years believe this is true.

Should Ferguson place faith in just van der Sar and Kuszczak – despite using three senior ‘keepers in the past year – one of United’s youth players may step up to the third choice slot.

While Ron-Robert Zieler returns to Germany this summer with Hanover, Ben Amos may return to United after a less than successful loan spell at Norwegian club Molde. Tom Heaton, on loan at Wycombe Wanderers for the past season, will leave the club with his contract finishing in June.

In Ferguson’s tenure at Old Trafford only Kevin Pilkington, with eight appearances, and Mark Bosnich have come through the ranks at the club. Bosnich only took the first team shirt after returning from Aston Villa on a free-transfer during summer 1999.

But Ferguson is keen to avoid the goalkeeping chasm that engulfed the club in Peter Schmeichel’s wake. When the great Dane moved to Portugal and into semi-retirement in 1999, Ferguson went through a string of ‘keepers including Roy Carroll, Tim Howard, Bosnich and the laughably poor Massimo Taibi before settling on van der Sar six years too late.

The ideal scenario sees United recruit a top-class stopper this summer, allowing van der Sar to wind his career slowly down.

In reality the limited transfer budget and even more pressing areas of the team means that the club will seek the best available next summer.

Transfer round-up 20/4

April 20, 2010 Tags: , , , Shorts 2 comments

Rant’s continuing ad-hoc round-up of the summer’s transfer news, gossip and reports from around the web. In today’s very special everybody’s leaving edition.. Manchester United misfit Zoran Tošić (remember him) plots life elsewhere, Dimitar Berbatov is a wanted man and Ben Foster aims to resurrect a dying career in the Midlands.

Tošić: I want to stay at Cologne
“I would like to stay at the club. The most important thing for any player is regular first-team football and I like Cologne, but I know any decision on my future will only be made in the summer,” said the 23-year-old Serbian winger. Tošić, who cost United £6 million almost 18 months ago is currently on-loan at the Bundeliga club after featuring in just five games for the club.

Dimitar Berbatov wanted in Milan
The Italian giants, who United knocked out of the Champions League this season, want Berbatov and will pay up to £20 million for the much criticised Bulgarian. Although Milan, desperately short of cash and seeking to offload star striker Pato, seem unlikely suitors a source told the Sun a bid is forthcoming.

“No contact has been made yet but we admire Berbatov,” said the unnamed ‘insider’, not believed to be Russell Crowe.

“He is a strong player who would do very well in Italy. Whether something can be arranged remains to be seen. It has been difficult for Berbatov in Manchester but he is a good player who has a lot to offer.”

On no he isn’t: agent
“The situation is clear, the future of Dimitar would still be at Manchester, he is happy there,” agent Emil Dantchev told Calciomercato.

“A difficult relationship with Ferguson? I cannot and don’t want to comment on these speculations from the press.

“I can only say that I have not scheduled any meeting with Ferguson, because there is no need.

“I have read the article on Milan, I can just say that it is a market rumour and it is not real.”

Ben Foster heads to Birmingham
United’s third-choice stopper Ben Foster, England’s number one at the start of the season and now on the metaphorical football scrapheap, will resurrect his career at Birmingham City. That’s if former Sir Alex Ferguson protegé Alex McCleish gets his way with a loan move in the summer.

Haris Vuckic to United?
No Rant doesn’t know who he is either but £5 million bid is on the cards for Newcastle United’s 17-year-old ‘wonderkid’ if the papers are to be believed.

Report: Foster bid rejected

January 18, 2010 Tags: Shorts 1 comment

Manchester United has rejected a bid for goalkeeper Ben Foster from Tottenham Hotspur, according to reports today. Foster, 26, is  out of the first team picture at Old Trafford following a series of unconvincing displays this season. Sky Sports reports that the London club’s bid of £4 million has not been accepted by the Old Trafford board.

Sir Alex Ferguson placed faith in the England international following Edwin van der Sar’s pre-season injury but Foster eventually lost his place to Polish stopper Tomasz Kuszczak and failed to make the bench for United’s home tie with Burnley at the weekend.

The former-Stoke City ‘keeper, signed in 2005 for around £1 million, is widely believed available for transfer with Ferguson seeking alternatives in the summer.

United has said that it will not allow Foster to move on loan, which the club is also rumoured to be interested in Schalke’s Manuel Neuer.

Poll: who should take United gloves?

December 15, 2009 Tags: , , , Polls No comments

Manchester United take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford tonight and Sir Alex Ferguson has the luxury of three fit goalkeepers to choose from. Edwin van der Sar is now match fit after missing six matches with a knee injury but Tomasz Kuszczak is in superb form and Ben Foster started the season as the Reds’ number one. Who should play tonight?

Who should be United's 'keeper against Wolves?

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Foster’s time is nigh

October 6, 2009 Tags: Opinion 2 comments

Ben Foster could have played his last Manchester United game after he was left out of England’s squad with a chest injury this week. The ‘keeper, who has appeared 10 times for United this season, is under pressure after a series of high profile errors in recent weeks. With Edwin van der Sar back in training, the big Dutchman will be pushed back into action for United’s match against Bolton on 17 October.

It’s a sad fall from grace for the Lemington-born stopper. With talent in spades and praise to match, many genuinely believed that Foster was the future of both United and England goalkeeping. Ten games and a string of uncertain performances later and some now doubt whether Foster has a future at United at all.

Foster’s problem is a crisis of confidence born from inexperience. At 26 he has far less top level experience than many ‘keepers of his age. After two years on loan at Watford, Foster returned to United to find van der Sar in the form of his life and a warm place waiting for him on the bench.

He is also an unfortunate player, who has been repeatedly injured during his United career. Foster’s most serious injury – knee ligament damage – kept him out for the best part of the 2007-8 season.

The ‘keeper, who has two England caps to date, played a staring role in United’s Carling Cup triumph last season. And while the experience was undoubtedly invaluable for the former Stoke City star, playing with United’s fringe and reserve players is not the same as the cut and thrust of the Premier and Champions Leagues.

With van der Sar injured against Bayern Munich in the pre-season Audi Cup, Foster proffered an eight week window to prove that his United credentials. It’s a chance that many believe Foster has blown.

The season didn’t start well either following a horrendous mistake against a Malaysian XI on United’s pre-season Asian Tour. In quick succession there were errors in the Community Shield – the weak punch that led directly  to Chelsea’s opening goal a sign of things to come. Further errors followed against Arsenal, where he got a hand to Andrei Arshavin’s long-range shot but failed to deflect the ball wide.

Then came, perhaps, the most calamitous performance of the season in the Manchester derby. First, Foster allowed former United striker Carlos Tevez to rob him of the ball for City’s opener. Then the ‘keeper, who joined United in a £1 million deal in 2005, went to ground early allowing Craig Bellamy to steal in for City’s third.

Following the match Foster, who is famously strong-willed during his frequent injury lay-offs, spoke of his distress.

“After last Sunday I pretty much buried my head in the sand to be honest,” the ‘keeper told the Manchester Evening News.

“I didn’t really want to watch the television and the next day… the papers, there was no way I was reading any of them. But when we got into training, you have to face up to it. You have to look at the replays and analyse it and learn from it.

“Our goalie coach Eric Steele has been on at me all week and has been hard on me really – but I needed that and I like to think I have learnt from it.

“I was the only one in the changing room with an upside down smile on his face!”

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson responded by publicly backing a player for whom he has predicted great things. It was a policy built on sound principles – Foster deserves an extended opportunity – but shaky foundations. Then the stopper produced a confidence-inspiring display in United’s outstanding team performance at Stoke City, only to face exclusion from the side against Wolfsburg. It was, in retrospect, a bizarre decision.

Perhaps being dropped for the midweek match was the final straw, with Foster culpable for both Sunderland’s goals last weekend. Firstly, the six-foot stopper failed to get down quickly enough to Darren Bent’s snap-shot on seven minutes. Then, tragically, Foster was out-jumped by Kenwyne Jones for Sunderland’s second. It might just have been his last mistake for the club.

With van der Sar back in contact training, the 130-cap Dutch legend is likely to start against Bolton on 17 October. Ferguson, keen to avoid the mistakes of the Tim Howard – Roy Carroll era, is likely to stick by his leading ‘keeper before dipping into the transfer market next summer.

Unless, that is, Foster can change his mind. The real question is – will he ever get the chance?

Foster holds hands up… may not be enough

September 28, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Ben Foster admitted he is lucky to still be in the Manchester United team and thanked Sir Alex Ferguson for keeping him there, after the stopper’s errors in recent matches. The Lemmington-born ‘keeper has made high profile mistakes in games against Manchester City and Arsenal this season, leading to speculation that Tomasz Kuszczak may replace Foster in the team. But Foster performed confidently in United’s win over Stoke City after Ferguson’s show of faith.

“I have to say a big thanks to the boss for sticking by me,” said Foster.

“Last Sunday was great for the team but personally, it was an absolute disaster. I was gutted afterwards. I was the only one in the changing room with an upside down smile on his face.

“I pretty much buried my head in the sand. I didn’t really want to watch the television and there was no way I was reading the papers the next day.

“When we got into training I had to face up to it. I had to look at the replays, analyse them and learn from them. The goalkeeping coach has been on at me all week and was really hard on me.”

Foster, whom United signed from Saturday’s opponents Stoke City in 2005, is in the team while regular Edwin van der Sar recovers from a broken hand. But the ‘keeper, who has two caps for England, says he will become a better player for his mistakes.

“I have learnt from it. You are going to have those days as a goalkeeper sometimes and you have to keep them to a minimum,” said Foster.

“The more you play the more concentration and consistency you develop.

“Edwin is a typical example of Mr Cool. He is a fantastic professional and he is someone I want to emulate at Manchester United. He is exactly what I am aiming to be for years to come.”

van der Sar recently confirmed that he will be fit within three weeks – a recovery that will likely end Foster’s spell in the team.

Foster starts against Stoke

September 25, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Ben Foster will start in goal against Stoke City at the weekend, despite the ‘keepers gaffe in the Manchester derby. Ferguson, speaking at his weekly press conference, told reporters that Foster will regain his place in the United side after missing out on the midweek Carling Cup clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“It was a good opportunity for Tomasz, but Ben will play. Ben has not had a lot of game experience but he will be OK,” said Ferguson.

Foster has looked nervous in the opening weeks of the season. The Lemmington-born stopper allowed former United player Carlos Tevez to rob him of the ball for Manchester City’s equaliser last weekend, and also failed to keep out Andrei Arshavin’s drive in United’s victory over Arsenal.

Polish ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszczak played without error in the victory over Wolves, although few believe that the former West Bromiwich Albion player is the long term replacement for Edwin van der Sar.

van der Sar, out with a broken bone in his hand, will be fit within a month, Ferguson said.

Fergie facing up to ‘keeper dilemma

September 24, 2009 Tags: , , Opinion 3 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson is faced with a huge goalkeeping dilemma, which he must solve  come the end of the season. Edwin van der Sar, unsure whether to sign a new one-year contract that would take him into his 40th year, may leave the club, while serious doubts remain over the long-term viability of both Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak. Indeed, such is the looming problem that Ferguson may choose to dip into the transfer market next summer.

van der Sar, who signed from Fulham for around £2 million in 2005, has been on a rolling contract for the past three seasons. Last campaign the legendary Dutchman, who has 130 international caps, signed a new one-year deal in December.

“I’ve said for a few years that it may be my last season,” said van der Sar, whom UEFA named  Club Goalkeeper of the Year last season.

“Six months before my contract with Manchester United ended in December 2006, we extended for one year and so far it has been the same every time.

“I wait each season to see how or where I stand, if everyone is happy and if I can get motivated.

“But I know, because I always get older, it is increasingly likely that this will be my last season. In December, it will be clear how it goes. By then, I’ll have clarity. It is a horrible dilemma.”

van der Sar,  out injured with a broken hand,  will return within a month. With Foster’s form this season unconvincing, many believe that the Dutchman will be straight back in the United side. Indeed, while the Englishman has made some crucial saves – such as those to halt Robin van Persie of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur’s Tom Huddlestone – he has also made mistakes in the same game against Arsenal and Manchester City at the weekend.

Former United legend Peter Schmeichel should know goalkeepers and the giant Dane thinks van der Sar will end up staying at Old Trafford for at least another season. It would be a move that will end Foster’s United career.

“Ben Foster has done well this season and he certainly looks to be a very good goalkeeper. He’s getting a run of games now, but I’m sure Edwin will be back in when he’s fit because the manager knows he’s the right guy for the team at the moment,” said Schmeichel, whose last campaign at United was the 1999 treble season.

“I think Edwin can keep playing for a few more years yet. He’s fit, he’s strong and he’s motivated. Physically, it shouldn’t be a problem for Edwin to carry on and if he wants to, then I’m sure he’ll take that opportunity.”

Schmeichel quit Old Trafford for the warmer climate of Portugal aged just 35 and eventually played on for another four seasons with Sporting, Aston Villa and then Manchester City before retiring.

If van der Sar stays on there will remain serious question marks over the Dutchman’s ability to indefinitely keep up the form of last season, when he kept a clean sheet for record 1,311 minutes in the league. Indeed, the ‘keepers mistake in the Champions League final – beaten at the near post by Samuel Eto’o – was symptomatic of an indifferent end to the campaign.

Meanwhile almost nobody believes that Pole Kuszczak, picked for last night’s Carling Cup win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, will ever be good enough to claim the number one shirt permanently. The question is, after Foster’s gaffe against City, will he be in possession until van der Sar returns?

Foster’s big chance

August 6, 2009 Tags: Opinion No comments

Ben Foster is to be afforded the opportunity he has craved most over the past four years after Edwin van der Sar underwent an operation on a broken finger today. With the big Dutchman, 38, out for the start of the new campaign, the talented Lemington-born ‘keeper has an eight week chance to demonstrate his credentials to take over for Manchester United – and potentially England – between the sticks. It’s a make-or-break opportunity.

Foster’s presence and technical ability have long been held up as a standard bearer for English goalkeeping – the natural heir to both van der Sar and England’s David James. Certainly that is the view of manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whom recently tied Foster to a new four year contract.

“We are delighted that Ben has signed a new four-year deal,” Ferguson said recently.

“Ben is seen as one of the best young goalkeepers in England and we genuinely see him as a successor to Edwin.”

“There is no question in my mind that he will be England’s goalkeeper. There is nobody better,” added the Scot.

But for Foster it has been a frustrating four years since a £1 million transfer from Stoke in 2005. The stopper, who has been hampered by injuries and the form of van der Sar, has started just 10 games for United over his four years as a Manchester United player.

Two years on loan at Watford afforded Foster some experience though, and his performances were strong enough to earn the ‘keeper a first call-up to the Steve McClaren’s England squad. Foster made his international début in England’s 1–0 defeat against Spain on 7 February 2007 but it was more than a year before his first start for United against Derby Country on 15 March 2008.

Then Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd offered a prophetic insight into the young Foster. “He recognises the fact he’s just a cog in the wheel. He works harder at his game and that’s why I think he’ll be a future Manchester United and England number one,” said Boothroyd.

“He’s better than Edwin van der Sar in my opinion. He is going to be the best goalkeeper in the world, I’m convinced of that.”

van der Sar’s injury and Portsmouth’s off-the-field problems this summer have handed Foster a hugely lucky break. But even if Boothroyd’s view of Foster’s potential has translated into real ability, there is still has much for the ‘keeper to prove. It’s one thing being handed a start in last season’s Carling Cup final, it will be quite another for Ferguson to plump for the Midlander in the final games of the coming season. At 26 Foster is no longer a young pretender.