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GK Special: Coach Wootten on club’s ‘keeper setup

2 April 2020

First Team Goalkeeping Coach Ed Wootten has had a lot to be proud of this season, perhaps most notably his involvement in Tim Krul’s penalty shootout heroics at Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup fifth round.

In a feature that originally appeared in OTBC, our official award-winning matchday programme, we spoke to Tim Krul, Archie Mair, Joe Rose and goalkeeping coaches Ed Wootten and Tom Weal to understand the factors that contribute to the success.

Next up, Ed Wootten… What do you put the various achievements of our goalkeepers down to?

EW: First and foremost, it’s important to create the right environment in the group. One thing myself, Tom Weal, Stuart Webber and the manager all wanted to put together was a strong group of goalkeepers that would create a competitive environment.

We brought in Archie Mair to create that competitive nature within the Under-23s group and to create an environment where everyone is pushing one another. You’ve seen the product of everyone doing that as high as they can.

Mair villa game Cropped.jpg

Consistency helps, particularly with Tim’s performances, which have been good. He’s had an opportunity to play quite a lot of games in succession last season and this.

Archie’s performances have been getting better and he’s been getting more accustomed to the way that we want to play as a football club. It’s difficult when you move countries like he did, coming into a completely different environment, but hopefully he’s becoming more settled.

We’ve got Daniel Barden below that who was relatively new to our club when he came in in the back end of 2018. He’s now starting to get more settled. Everyone is pushing each other to do as well as they can. Archie made an interesting point on the different geographical backgrounds of our ‘keepers, and how they have taught him various techniques.

EW: Delia’s got a great saying: “no-one’s smarter than all of us.” That’s certainly true in the goalkeeping group as we want to learn different ways from each other.

Michael will be different to Tim, Archie and Daniel and we can all pick good bits and try to implement that in our game. It’s nice to work so closely together, have different styles and see the way these people go about their work.

mcg gk special.jpg Tim said he likes having the academy lads come into first-team training, so there’s a good link there.

EW: Absolutely. We’re always working as close as we can together. It’s just as important for me to work with Tom as it is for academy goalkeepers to work with first team goalkeepers. I can learn off Tom and him off me.

We’re very fortunate to have a senior goalkeeping group that are welcoming to the younger goalkeepers and have got time for them. They’ll try to share their ideas and strategies and are accommodating to the young lads and help them rather than fight them off. Liverpool’s goalkeeping coaches talk about ‘nerve strength’ – having the calmness to slow the game down and make it look easy. How does that apply here?

EW: That’s right. We’ve got a good group of goalkeepers in terms of being calm and settled characters. They’re very assured and self-confident without being ridiculously outgoing so they’ve got very stable characters. You see that when they go onto the pitch.

Tim is very good at dealing with the crowd. You’ll see him trying to lift them during a game. He has a balance of when to concentrate on the game and when to give the fans a bit of a gee up.

krul spurs pen.jpg

He’s particularly good at dealing with penalties. We all do the homework on what the penalty taker is going to do, but ultimately, it’s down to the goalkeeper in the eye of a storm.

Michael made a tremendous double save against Wesley for Aston Villa. It was one of the saves of the season. The credit has to go to the goalkeeper. I will give them an opinion as to what I think they should do but it comes down to what they feel is the right thing to do. Do you get more pride from a penalty saved or a clean sheet?

EW: I don’t judge performances by clean sheets. I think it’s wrong to do that because a ‘keeper can play particularly well then concede three or four goals. I take more pride in certain aspects in training coming across in the match.

One save earlier in the season came against Lanzini’s header away to West Ham. Tim played particularly well that day and that save was an aspect we’d worked on in training in the week, so that stands out as being an exceptional save.

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