Ben Foster can still get better for West Brom, insists coach
Ben Foster can become an even better goalkeeper for the Baggies, insists new coach Neil Cutler.
Albion’s No.1 has been one of the club’s most consistent performers of the last few years and was named supporters’ player of the year and players’ player of the year for the third time last season.
Although the team has recently started shipping goals at an alarming rate, Foster showed his form at the weekend with an impressive save to deny Daryl Janmaat against Watford.
Cutler, who replaced Jonathan Gould as goalkeeping coach, stressed that conceding goals was not always the keeper’s fault, although every one was analysed closely by the department.
And he is confident that Foster can still improve, even though he turns 35 next month.
“I think he can without a doubt,” said Cutler, who joined from Walsall last month. “He’s still got little details that I can work on and he can bring into his game can make him even better.
"He’s so athletic, he’s so quick around the goal, so powerful. If we can work on his shape a little bit more, which he’s buying into, he can be even better.
"I’m trying to push him, I don’t want him to coast, I don’t want him to just be.
“At 35 you need to keep being tested, you don’t want to come in and go home, you want to come in and learn something and develop.”
Cutler has known Foster for more than 15 years because the pair were team-mates at Stoke City after the Potters spotted Albion’s No.1 playing non-league football for Racing Club Warwick.
“I know what he needs,” said Cutler, who is only 41 himself. “I’m not going to drag him onto the training pitch every morning.
“It’s an understanding of how and when to push him, when to drop him off a little bit. I’ve got to get into his psyche a little bit, how he works.
"Keep pushing him, but not to the point of breaking. We need him 110 per cent for the weekend.”
Foster has kept eight clean sheets this season, and five since Alan Pardew took over as head coach, but the Baggies have shipped 12 goals in their last five league matches.
Cutler has set targets for Albion’s No.1 to hit before the end of the season, but they are not binary.
“Yes, but not clean sheets,” he revealed. “I’ll send him into games with little details he needs to hit.
“It’s already working I think. His starting position in relation to the ball is far better, he’s taking more crosses, which is what we worked on. His distribution is getting better all the time.”