Just little over a year ago, Fraser Forster was on the verge of being England’s number 1 heading into a World Cup Year. Yet, fast forward to the present, he now finds himself as Southampton’s fourth choice goalkeeper, becoming the forgotten man on the south coast.
The fall from grace for the 6ft 6 former Celtic man has been a staggering one. A player who made such a glittering start to life in the Premier League has rapidly lost his way in football. Being the mainstay of the team for the best part of three years, one of the highest profiled and paid players at the club, not even his harshest critic would predict such a dramatic decline.
It was obvious to see that with every game, Forster’s confidence was dwindling away at an alarming rate. There was anxiety in the stadium and amongst his teammates every time there was a cross that needed catching or a ball that needed sweeping. A team, that was so dysfunctional in terms of playing style and personale, now had a jittery goalkeeper to add to their growing issues. Perhaps in seasons gone by, his poor run of form would have been able to cover up or hide, but now with a defence that had deep problems of their own, Fraser Forster was exposed to the harsh realities of the English game, with his areas of weakness now dangerously glaring.
His ultimatum came at Wembley Stadium, home of the England national team and also where Forster had made his England debut four years previous. However, now stood a man who was a shell of his former self; after a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Spurs, then manager, Mauricio Pellegrino made the bold move to replace Forster with long standing number 2, Alex McCarthy. It was an understandable move, but surprising nonetheless due to the fact that the 28 year-old’s first game was away at Manchester United. Deemed as a stop gap and a short term fix, Alex McCarthy now had an opportunity to seize his chance.
Fraser Forster’s mission for redemption has been unable to get off the ground, largely through the brilliance of McCarthy. After playing a significant role in contributing to the clubs survival, the former Reading, QPR and Crystal Palace man was named player of the season, despite playing only for half of it, such was the impact he had made. This has meant that Forster hasn’t had a look in, instead, he has been forced to watch on from the sidelines, surely questioning where his career is heading.
And now, at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, he now finds himself as the fourth choice goalkeeper behind McCarthy, new arrival Angus Gunn and the young Harry Lewis. With Mark Hughes admitting the six-time-capped international has turned down a couple of potential moves away from St Marys, with apparent interest coming as far as the Turkish League, it is evident to see that Fraser Forster is caught in two minds on what the future lies ahead in the cutthroat world of professional football.