"Fiercely determined and committed": More to Marschall than meets the eye

Aston Villa loanee Filip Marschall has had a difficult start to his time at MK Dons
Filip MarschallFilip Marschall
Filip Marschall

It takes a thick skin to be a goalkeeper, and perhaps an even thicker one to be a goalkeeper under fire. That though could be right in the wheelhouse of Filip Marschall.

The 20-year-old Aston Villa stopper has come in for criticism from his own supporters since his arrival at Stadium MK in January, making five appearances before suffering an injury, only making his return on Easter Monday for the trip to Notts County.

Even before kick-off, Marschall’s inclusion in the side was met with a negative response from some quarters - a mixture of an unsureness, a lack of confidence and perhaps favouritism towards Michael Kelly, the man he replaced between the sticks. With the significant majority of Meadow Lane already wanting Marschall to make a slip up, it would be fair if the youngster were to crumble under pressure.

And there were mistakes, a few loose touches and misplaced passes, but he was not alone in doing them in an off-colour afternoon for most of the team. The keeper though would face the brunt of the criticism.

A pick from Mike Williamson’s past in bringing him to Stadium MK, Marschall spent two loan spells from Villa under the head coach at Gateshead in non-league. He first helped them secure the National League North title before then guiding them through their first campaign in the fifth tier.

Journalist Mark Carruthers covers Gateshead’s exploits and watched Marschall help the Heed through his 39 appearances. Carruthers believes the keeper has the mental resolve to not only quickly move past any mistakes he makes on the pitch, but also the critics too.

“Fil can come across as pretty laid back but I always sensed that was a front for a fiercely determined and committed character,” said Carruthers. “Despite being a young goalkeeper, he is very mature and would expect any criticism for any errors he may have made but he will also realise this is very much part of his learning curve and will be a very important part of his career and development.  

“I always got the sense there was a long-term view taken when it came to the positives and negatives of any performance with him. He also replaced a good goalkeeper in Jacob Chapman and he had done well during the first half of the same season.  However, I think Fil proved pretty quickly just how he could handle the rigours of non-league football and adapted to the style of play Mike and Ian implemented within the Gateshead side.

“Mike and Ian (Watson) thought the world of him and they always say you don’t get too high with the highs or too low with the lows so I am sure that is the message going through to Fil right now and it’s one I am absolutely certain he will be taking on board.”

Goalkeeping acumen

Marschall in action in the 3-3 draw against Notts CountyMarschall in action in the 3-3 draw against Notts County
Marschall in action in the 3-3 draw against Notts County

The style of play Williamson has designs for at MK Dons relies heavily on a goalkeeper’s confidence not just in himself but also in the end goal. Versed in it both at Villa Park and in his time at Gateshead, Marschall knows what the style should look like and that, at times, mistakes will happen and could prove costly.

One thing perhaps Dons have yet to see of the 20-year-old is his out-and-out goalkeeping ability, and indeed his presence as a goalkeeper - both things Carruthers believes are strong points in his game.

Carruthers continued: “He didn’t really take any time to settle into their style of play because it is encouraged by the vast majority of clubs in the Premier League, especially within their academy setup.  There were some errors but they were few and far-between and Mike and Ian always spoke about risk and reward with their style of play.

“His shot stopping was consistently high and he was more than capable of coming for crosses, which you would expect for a goalkeeper of his stature.  But I think the most impressive aspect of his game was just how commanding he was.  

“With all due respect to Gateshead, they played in a 10,500 capacity stadium and crowds tend to be around 1,000 so you can hear quite a bit going on and Fil’s voice was also one of the most notable as he bossed his defence and let them know exactly what he expected of them.”