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Is Ball-Playing Ederson Getting Distracted?

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Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Manchester City’s goalkeeper Ederson Moraes has been one of the factors responsible for the team’s success in recent times. The Brazilian moved to the club from Benfica in what was greeted with high expectations from the City faithful. The reason was simple. Club legend and homeboy Joe Hart was not considered good enough. Not even his long-term experience acquired from years of keeping at the top level was seen as an asset for the team.

Pep Guardiola had his spec for a goalkeeper and Joe Hart simply didn’t measure up. His struggles since leaving the club vindicate the Catalan. First, Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo was the chosen one for the new job. But even he failed to shine. Consistently making high-profile errors is a sure way to end your career as a top-class goalkeeper. Once confidence in your ability is eroded, it becomes very difficult to regain it.

Guardiola turned to Ederson as the man to do the job. The Brazilian responded with world-class goalkeeping that has redefined the profession. Consequently, he has drawn praise from far and wide for his ball-playing skills. Teammate Bernardo Silva even joked recently that he will be great as a midfielder.

It’s usually difficult to find Ederson wanting by virtue of the style the team plays. Against weaker opposition especially, he usually has little or nothing to do in a 90-minute game. That’s because the Sky Blues dominate the ball for most of the match leaving the opponent barely troubling City’s goal.

In fact, it is worth noting that as good as Tottenham is, the team could only muster three shots at City’s goal throughout their last match. Of those three, two were on target and ended up in the back of the net. The goalkeeper was at fault in both cases.

In what seemed like being eager to impress, Claudio Bravo was frequently seen outside of his box exchanging passes with his defenders and midfielders during the Community Shield game. Not even the fact that Liverpool like to play a high-pressing game and easily capitalise on mistakes scared him. That doesn’t mean it was a seamless affair. He got into trouble a few times. Thankfully, none was dangerous enough to cause any catastrophe.

He capped off a decent performance with the penalty save that helped City win the trophy. Ederson is also fond of that. The 26-year old can be regularly found at the edge of the eighteen yard box spraying passes to his teammates.

Unfortunately, that can backfire big time. When a team that is good on the counter gets the ball, a quick switch in movements will make it difficult for the keeper to get back in time and cover the goal. Tottenham’s first goal from Eric Lamela came from a simple build up of attack that really shouldn’t trouble a good defense line much less the goalkeeper. But it did exactly that and a shot that should ordinarily draw a routine save ended up in the back of the net.

It was a big boost for the visitors. The players suddenly came out of their shells and went about their business with renewed confidence. Despite later going for the break a goal down, the team came back for the second half ready to fight for an equaliser. And that’s exactly what it got. Mauricio Pochettino left the Etihad Stadium a proud man.

In what was easily a repeat of last season’s Champions League meeting between the two sides, a corner kick was swung in and a Tottenham player was on the end of it. Only this time around, it was one of the shortest men on the pitch, Lucas Moura, that thumped the ball in. A free header near the six yard box flew right over the keeper who tried in vain to save the ball. Moura later said he purposely sought to exploit City's weakness there.

Better organisation could have easily prevented that and top goalkeepers are known for amongst other things, their ability to organise their defence line to avoid conceding cheap goals. Conceding such goals has become a weakness for the team and the goalkeeper must take a huge chunk of the blame for failing to organise his defence as necessary.

Yes, making passes, providing an extra body in defence and initiating attacks is good. But in the end, a goalkeeper is still a goalkeeper. The modern day shot stopper must do all that. Nonetheless, he must not abandon his primary responsibility which is to keep the ball out of the net. Neither should he relegate it to second place. Perhaps, that is why Liverpool's Alisson Becker is still Brazil’s first choice.