Last season, many fans were certain that Julian Speroni should have been the club’s first choice goalkeeper but they were split down the middle between which goalkeeper they preferred between Wayne Hennessey and Alex McCarthy. Or to put it another way, which one they liked least.
I, along with many other fans, thought Alex McCarthy would be one for the future. While he might not have been up to Premier League standard last season we thought that given a couple of years he would mature in to a good goalkeeper.
Wayne Hennessey had many things against him, such as the many mistakes which he seemed to be allowed to get away with. Whereas McCarthy made a couple of mistakes and built up a strong ‘anti’ feeling, it should be remembered that he only played for us 7 times.
So just why was a goalkeeper written off after just 7 games? Maybe it was his 7th and final game, the home game against Liverpool, that was the final nail? In that game, Palace were winning 1-0 when McCarthy went to kick out a back pass which, while under no pressure at all, he proceeded to slip and in doing so gifting the ball to a Liverpool player who promptly scored.
Never have I seen a player receive so much abuse on social media than McCarthy did after that game. No player slips on purpose. It wasn’t an act of incompetence, such as Hennessey at Villa Park, it was a slip. John Stones did exactly the same thing 6 days later and it was shrugged off by the England fans.
Maybe all the abuse destroyed his confidence? Maybe the management thought there was no way back from that? Whatever the case, despite some okay performances in pre-season, he was written off and sold.
So what have Southampton seen in McCarthy? Many fans were amused that Southampton had ‘wasted’ a couple of million on a player we signed only 12 months earlier.
Southampton are no mugs. They have both produced their own players and bought players who have gone on to play for England or sold for a tidy profit.
I’d place more confidence in Southampton’s scouting system and coaches than ours. I think we let a potentially good goalkeeper go and it’s we, the fans, who I think are to blame.