I think it’s safe to say that any fears about Allan McGregor not being as good as he used to be can be put to bed. So to speak. So far in five games for Rangers, he has conceded just one goal and has no doubt came to the rescue on more than one occasion. It would’ve been another clean sheet v Osijek had he been given a clear sight of the shot from Barisic. Wes Foderingham has been disposed as number 1 in more ways than just his squad number.
There are many Rangers fans that will tell you Wes Foderingham is a good goalkeeper. That he saved Rangers on many occasions and won us points that stopped us from being even further from the top. However, there will be an awful lot more that will tell you he is just “not a bad” goalkeeper. But is that good enough?
I grew up with Chris Woods, then Andy Goram, then Stefan Klos as the Rangers goalkeeper. Not a bad lineage eh? They all had something more. They had presence, but each in a different way. Woods had an aura, a massive frame and “looked” like a goalkeeper. On top of being an exceptional shot-stopper, and until his injury (and ear) issues, he just didn’t make mistakes or the wrong decision.
Goram and Klos were similar in terms of their shot stopping, they were a different level. Their reaction speed and positional sense was what set them apart from their rivals. They both knew their limitations and commanded their box accordingly.
What does Foderingham have that sets him apart from the rest? To be brutal, not much really. Yes, he has made some decent saves but so does every keep playing professionally. He doesn’t throw many in, I’ll give him that though. It may surprise some but statistically, Foderingham saves almost the exact number of shots that he should save. Similar to the xG (expected goals) stat there is xS (expected saves) and he is practically on 0. Occasionally, he will save something harder but then he will let something he maybe should save past. Over the season, it works out that he doesn’t really “win us games” he just doesn’t cost us them. He is a “goal neutral” goalkeeper. Nothing more, nothing less. A bit…meh.
We all know what his weaknesses are. He rarely ventures out his six-yard box to come for crosses. He has a poor volume of shots conceded from outside of the box. Also, subjectively, there doesn’t seem to be any great communication to his back line.
On paper, and this is where statistics don’t paint an accurate picture, McGregor and Foderingham have almost identical goals per game conceded in their respective careers. Foderingham is 1.04 and McGregor is 1.01 goals conceded per game. Foderingham has never played higher than League 1 in England and has two seasons in Scotland’s top flight. McGregor has played his last five seasons in the Championship or Premier League in England and has also played over 100 more games. There is also the small matter of McGregor having 14 clean sheets in 38 games at international level. In a very poor Scotland team incidentally.
There is a reason Foderingham hasn’t played at a higher level. He is a good, solid goalkeeper, but not much else. I thought he had his best form, including coming for more crosses, when Matt Gilks was at Rangers. Gilks seemed to have a McGregor-esque presence in terms of his organisational skills. He only conceded one goal (against Celtic) in his short time at the club. Admittedly he wasn’t anywhere near McGregor’s level but he has spent most of his career in the Championship and one season in the Premier League. He has had a more than decent career. Gilks was also capped at international level at a time when Scotland had three Premier League goalkeepers in Craig Gordon, David Marshall and Allan McGregor.
McGregor will win us points this season. He will also organise the defence and not accept conceding goals under any circumstances. He is on a different level to Foderingham and has the experience of winning trophies and winning Old Firm games. Allan McGregor won’t concede five goals against Celtic 2-3 times a season.
If his early season Europa League form is to go by, I can’t wait to see him dive to the left, dive to the right then, well, you know the rest!