For the last few seasons, one area at Huddersfield Town that hasn’t been a constant discussion point among supporters is the position of goalkeeper. In our promotion year Danny Ward was the undoubted number one and last year it was Jonas Lossl.
This season Town head coach David Wagner has a real decision to make on who is going to be his number one between the sticks. Is it going to be Danish international and last season’s hero Lossl, or new recruit and dependable keeper Ben Hamer.
Hamer has come in from Leicester City on a free transfer this summer, he moves to West Yorkshire knowing he was unlikely to get game time at the Foxes due to the dominance of Lossl’s international team mate Kasper Schmeichel and subsequently their purchase of former Town stopper Danny Ward from Liverpool for £12m.
Town fans will know Hamer and what he is capable of, after coming up against the Terriers many times back in the league one days when he was stepping out for Charlton Athletic. An experienced keeper, Hamer has risen through the league structure, and after making 114 career appearances for the Charlton, he then moved on to Leicester City.
I myself was extremely pleased that Town had captured the signing of Hamer as I knew he would be an adequate back up and add stern competition for Jonas Lossl for the number one shirt.
There is no denying the impact that Lossl has had at the club since signing on loan then permanently last season, he has made some outstanding saves to keep Town in games and in the Premier League. The pick of the bunch has to be the save against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Many Town fans were therefore expecting Lossl to be the number one again this campaign for Town’s second season in England’s top division. However who turned up on the team sheet for the first game against Chelsea in goal? Ben Hamer.
Hamer has had an exceptional pre-season and really impressed many Town fans in the home pre-season match against Lyon. However no one was really predicting that he would be chosen instead of Lossl to start against Chelsea.
There could be a couple of reasons for Wagner’s surprising choice, those are…..
1. Lossl has had a busy summer taking part in the World Cup in Russia and so hasn’t had as much time training with Town as what Hamer has had.
2. Lossl was given permission to take a short break after the World Cup and so came back later, and therefore whilst in tremendous shape, full match fitness may not have been up to 100%.
3. Hamer had impressed so much so in pre-season that Wagner thought he would give the new recruit his opportunity.
Hamer’s performance on Saturday against Chelsea was not poor or below par like some Town fans have suggested. You have to remember that he has come to battle for the number one shirt against another keeper who is seen as a fans favourite.
He probably was a bit nervous and felt under pressure to perform, because he knows that if he makes one or two mistakes, he’ll be back to sitting on the bench.
Hamer is a very capable keeper, and he just needs time to get used to the way David Wagner likes his goalkeepers to play. Playing with the ball at their feet is a big part of how Town like to play football out from the back, and chipping a ball thirty yards to the fullback is not something Hamer has had to do before.
Let’s remember that he did have three years under Chris Powell at Charlton, where a keeper never chipped a ball any sort of short distance to the fullback.
I would be inclined to give Hamer another chance, Lossl will not enjoy being on the bench, however it will bring an even more determined side out of him to win back his shirt.
Also if Wagner decides to remove Hamer now, it could knock the lad’s confidence early on.
I was unfortunately out voted three to one when recording the Thrice Champions podcast, when I was asked who I’d like to see put in goal against Manchester City. I was the only one to say Hamer.
As ever it isn’t easy to be a manager and Wagner will have to make a decision soon, because as we have seen at Liverpool, if you don’t have continuity in your goalkeeper choice it can cause problems in defence.
I still want to see Lossl play as much as possible in a Town shirt, but as said I would be inclined to give Hamer another go, and see how he performs.
It will be interesting to see how Wagner plays the situation. Today, in the press conference he seemed to confirm that Hamer will start in between the sticks for the next few games as Lossl gets back up to speed. However it is nice for once that he has a real choice to make of who to play in goal.
When both goalkeepers or fit and firing, who would you pick? Lossl or Hamer?