After a sparkling display at Stamford Bridge on his Premier League debut, Angus Gunn confirmed his intentions to dethrone Alex McCarthy as Southampton’s number 1 shot-stopper and perhaps, his place in the England Squad. Although many could argue that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s decision to drop the man, who was so fundamental in the Saints escaping relegation, was a surprise, it was simply a matter of time.
At the beginning of the season, Alex McCarthy was handed the number one jersey as well as penning a fresh four-year contract. Entering the team in the back end of 2017, McCarthy was the shining light in what was an extremely dark season at St Mary’s. Voted as Under Armour Fans’ Player of the Season, winning the supporters’ poll by a resounding margin, Alex McCarthy appeared to be an integral part of the Southampton team.
However, with Fraser Forster completely out of the picture, the club decided to look for a new man between the sticks. With money somewhat limited, Southampton splashed out heavily on securing the services of 22-year-old, Angus Gunn. The £13.5 million fee perhaps suggested that the son of Brian Gunn was not just going to be happy warming the bench and making the odd appearance in the cup.
Making a “big impression” on Pep Guardiola whilst at Man City and representing England at every age level up to the U21’s, Gunn was highly rated within the footballing world. After a stellar season on loan to Norwich, ultimately being the only Norwich player to be ever-present during the campaign, the time was right for Angus to make the big jump.
With a reputation that was now building at a pace unquestionable, many within the game believed Southampton pulled off quite the coup. Nevertheless, how were they going to turn round to Alex McCarthy and drop him? Although McCarthy was in great form, there was an underlying common feeling that Gunn had the higher ceiling of improvement. After all, he was a young, modern goalkeeper who already had built up a wealth of experience.
As we have seen in the last few weeks, with Angus Gunn lurking in his shadows, Alex McCarthy has been under enormous pressure to simply keep his spot. Every tiny mistake he made has been heavily scrutinized and followed with the mention of Angus Gunn taking the gloves.