Player: Ben Foster
Club: Birmingham City
2010-11 Appearances (Goals): 38 (0)
Who?: Surprisingly already at the 10th club of his career, and surely in August he will be at his 11th. Back in 2005 Sir Alex Ferguson took a surprise punt on Stoke City youth/reserve goalkeeper Foster after he had impressed on loan at Wrexham as a 23 year-old. Foster was immediately loaned out to Watford in the Championship for some experience and during his first season there they gained promotion to the promised land of the Premier League. Foster was signed up for a second season with Watford and was named their ‘Player of the season’ despite their relegation. Foster returned to Manchester midway through the following season but suffered injuries and limited opportunities following the signing of Tomasz Kuszczak, which was a huge blow to someone deemed the countries brightest goalkeeping hope. After a couple of seasons as a bit part/Carling Cup player Foster decided he needed tirst team football and was snapped up by Alex McLeish’s Birmingham in 2010. Foster won the Carling Cup for the second time (having won with Man United previously), was ever present in the league and again won his club’s ‘Player of the Year’ accolade, but despite his efforts the team finished in the bottom three and will spend 2011/12 in the Championship. Foster’s shot stopping is, in my opinion, as good as any other ‘keeper’s in the division and his all round game has improved no end. Sure, he has the odd slip, as do most, if not all Goalkeepers, but he has proved that by sticking with him and allowing him to regain confidence he can be one of the most consistent goalkeepers around.
Why?: In Foster’s two seasons in the top flight as a club regular (Watford and Birmingham), he has won Player of the Year for his respective clubs despite being relegated on both occasions. He was my fantasy team goalkeeper all season and finished 3rd in the goalkeeper rankings behind only Joe Hart and Petr Cech (who play behind arguably world class back fours remember…) and was the highest-rated English goalkeeper in Opta’s statistics for the season. Having recently retired from International duty his sole focus will be on club football, which can only be beneficial to whoever decides to snap up, who I consider, one of the best goalkeepers in the league. With Birmingham relegated and most likely in a position where they need to sell some ‘stars’ Foster would be allowed to leave, and with Maik Taylor (out of contract but most likely up for some first team football) and Colin Doyle (whom I rated very, very highly indeed when he played back in 2007) at the club then there is more than ample cover should Foster depart.
Where?: Aston Villa or Tottenham look likely destinations for me. With Friedel off on a free in the summer (maybe to Spurs?) then Foster would prove a more than ample replacement, as well as potentially being a long-term solution in that position. However, if Spurs do not take 56 year-old Friedel to replace the inevitably departing Gomes then they would be well advised to look to the more youthful and long-term option of Foster. Spurs have a good solid English spine and with an English ‘keeper at the back it would not only benefit Spurs, but it would mean Foster could further his career with European appearances and being part of a club pushing for Champions League football. Should Foster ever decide to come out of international retirement then this would be as good an opportunity as ever to prove that he can perform at the top and challenge Joe Hart for England’s number 1 jersey. An outside bet of a move to Newcastle as Harper is no spring chicken and Krul is shit. Plus they do have that £35m to burn.
For other relegated player profiles, visit our feature Too Good to Go Down