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Ben Foster
Position: Goalkeeper
From: Manchester United - on loan - August 2005
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Worth appreciating while he's here.


I've always been told that first impressions last. Well, if that were true, then I'd be leading a mutiny on Adrian Boothroyd already for putting himself in a position where he is forced to play Ben Foster. My first impression of Foster was of a young man well out of his depth at this level. My first impression hasn't lasted.

Now, Alex Ferguson may be a good spotter of potential but his taste in goalkeepers leaves a lot to be desired. For every Peter Schmeichel there's a Massimo Taibi and a Raimond Van Der Gouw. However, I still think it's relevant that he was prepared to take such a massive punt on someone as to spend what could end up as 2m on a goalkeeper who wasn't even second choice at his club.

Yes, Watford signed, and put straight into their first team, Stoke City's third choice goalkeeper. At least, that's what those who don't do their research would say. Those who did their research would know that Foster spent a major proportion of last season on loan to Wrexham, playing twenty games for a team that won the LDV Vans trophy. You don't win a cup without a good goalkeeper.

While he was there he was playing with an experienced midfielder called Darren Ferguson. Ferguson asked his Daddy to come to watch him play in said trophy final in Cardiff and pointed out that Wrexham had an impressive goalkeeper that Daddy may want to watch. Daddy watched, and Foster was on his way to Old Trafford.

The long term plan is that Ben Foster will be the replacement for Edwin Van Der Sar once the latter's two year contract is up. Thus he will be out on loan for those two years, training with Manchester United at least once a week in the meantime.

He may well spend that time at Watford. So, it's worth looking at what we've got. He's big, good with crosses and looks a great shot-stopper, particularly adept at tipping the ball over the bar. He also kicks like an angry mule, which is useful with someone like Darius Henderson up front. His debut against Preston was not good, he looked shaky and lacking in assuredness. But he is getting better and better, and saved us against Reading with a wonderful save from James Harper's shot.

We don't know what his contract says. We don't know if Boothroyd is forced to play him, or can go to plan B (Chamberlain) if he isn't working out. What we do know is that we could have struck very lucky having Ben Foster here for the next year, and maybe two.

Paul Goldsmith
Last updated: September 2005