Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson can be considered “the world’s best”, says Andrew Hughes, with the Brazilian’s value to the Blues “not an accident” as they have embraced the qualities that he brings to the fold.
Pep Guardiola has always sought to line up with a ball-playing option between the sticks, with custodians in his teams needing to be as comfortable with their feet as they are with their hands.
Joe Hart and Claudio Bravo failed to convince when given their opportunities to impress, leading City to invest heavily in Ederson during the summer of 2018.
Hughes formed part of the Terriers’ coaching staff on that day and admits that trying to counter the threat of Ederson can be as difficult as trying to contain the rest of a star-studded Blues side.
He told the Manchester Evening News:
“We knew that if we press some keepers that weren’t comfortable with back-passes they would kick it long or kick it out but with that man, he was a real key part of the pre-match prep.
“You would focus a lot on him because he is the one that dictates and start the pace, he is the one that can start attacks and lead to goals. It’s not an accident, it is a talent and it is something that he and Man City have worked on.
“With Ederson you don’t know what he’s going to do. If you go man for man, at least you try to take away the idea of having a man for him to find with a pass, but then you’re in trouble if you are chasing the game and have to press him because he can play around you.
“The guy can hit a 90-yard ball onto a stamp. On the ball he’s incredible so in a weird kind of way, the worst thing that we decided to do was to press the keeper because he is such a good footballer that’s what City’s idea is – they want teams to press the goalkeeper. As one player presses the goalkeeper that obviously makes one player spare so ultimately Ederson is able to find that spare player he is that good.
“We felt if we didn’t press the keeper and let him have it and went more or less man-for-man then it is literally an outfield man to man game but when you’ve got world-class players that can receive it and players that aren’t used to playing at that quality in the Premier League and they sit back, you become a little bit fearful.
“Do you sit and play a deep block? How can you play a deep block against City because the only way you’re going to get out of it is if you have a plan?
“You want to force him into long kicks because if you look at his stats there might be two or three kicks in a game that he kicks out or kicks short but it is like when Paul Scholes plays for United – everyone remembers those passes that set up a goal, just like the long ball that Ederson set up the goal against us the season we got relegated. That’s football.
“His passing, his calmness, his relationship with his back three or two or five, you can see he’s got a wonderful relationship and he just knows where to play and the manager works on different match plans for every game – that’s why he is the world’s best.”