Dons coach Price is concerned for ‘the art of goalkeeping’ in the modern game
“The gaffer wants every keeper to be good with his feet but the main thing is keeping the ball out the net”
Andrew Fisher comfortably claims this cross against Accrington Stanley
The role of a modern-day keeper is a far cry from the one Lewis Price was trained to be when he was growing up.
Asked to play short balls, to act as another defender, to be outside of the penalty area to receive passes, sweeper-keepers are the in-fad in football, and according to Price - MK Dons’ goalkeeping coach - it is overshadowing a keeper’s main job: to keep the ball out of the net.
Last season, Andrew Fisher sometimes spent more times playing outside of his penalty area then he did in it with the style of play asked of him under former boss Russell Martin. Often making more passes than some outfield players, Fisher has been playing more of a traditional keeping role this term - though still playing out with his feet more often than not.
But with more and more teams asking their last man to play almost a hybrid role, Price says the art of goalkeeping is beginning to wash away.
“It was different when I was playing, but it’s the way the game is played now,” he said. “It changes, it evolves, and I think to a degree, the art of being a goalkeeper is disappearing.
“A lot of people look for footballers first than they do a goalkeeper. The gaffer wants every keeper to be good with his feet but the main thing is keeping the ball out the net and that’s where I think Fish has got a good balance.
“You have to be able to save shots because if things go wrong, play breaks down, it will come to you. You have to bail them out. If you’re only good with your feet and can’t save a ball, playing out is irrelevant. If it does break down, you’ll concede. If you didn’t have a keeper who could save shots you’re better getting the ball as far away as possible.
“But Fish has a really good balance. If we're ever struggling for an outfield player, I'm sure Fish could give it a go!”
Not told to tone down in any way, Price said the difference in styles of play means Fisher is not required to play 40-yards from his own goal, so does not have to be as risky with his positional play.
Staying in a more traditional position as a keeper instead this season - primarily inside his penalty area - Fisher has impressed Price with what he has shown so far.
He said: “Everyone can see the quality he has with his feet, and for me seeing that comfort with the ball at his feet is a massive bonus with the way we like to play. At the end of the day though, you're paid to keep the ball out the back of the net which he does pretty well to be fair.
“Last season, Russ had a way of how he wanted Fish to play, and that gave him the freedom to do it. Things have played slightly, so he hasn't got that same freedom in a sense but I don't think we had to rein him in, it's just a different style he's had to deal with.”