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How Loyal Should Fulham be towards Marcus Bettinelli?

What can all the previous promoted clubs can tell what Fulham should do in goal?

Aston Villa v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

The last couple of days were quite a fascinating day for Fulham Football Club. First, goalkeeper coach Jose Sambada Carreira resigned to be closer to his family. Next, Marcus Bettinelli posted a photo of himself on instagram which usually indicates that he is starting for the upcoming fixture. Maybe these two stories are not intertwined, but when you add that fact that Sambada was Fabri’s goalkeeper coach back when the two were at Deportivo La Coruna and that another Spanish goalkeeper in Sergio Rico was brought into the club on loan, it’s hard to avoid connecting the dots.

And while Fabri isn’t having one of the worst showings in Premier League history, he also hasn’t convinced Fulham supporters enough that he is the number one goalkeeper in the long haul. Which brings us back to Bettinelli. After two straight succesful seasons of guiding the club towards consecutive pushes towards the Championship playoffs, with the latter leading to Fulham’s promotion to the top flight, many thought he deserved his shot playing. However, not all goalkeepers get the luxury to start in the Premier League after guiding clubs towards promotion.

Since the Premier League became a 20-club division after the 1995/96 season, there have been 69 clubs that have promoted during that span. Of those 69 clubs, 38 of them went on to give their number one goalkeeper a chance to keep his place while competing in the Premier League the following season. However, only 18 of those 38 went on to help his club towards safety the following season.

To go along with that, only Tom Heaton and Neil Etheridge have been the only goalkeepers since 2015/16 that have regularly started for the same club during its promotion campaign and in its first season in the Premier League. What makes this fact even more unique is that only two clubs over the past three Premier League seasons went from being promoted to being dropped automatically, and those were Middlesbrough and Hull City back in 2016/17.

These are unique times in English football. The amount of talent from promoted clubs that turn successful on the first try seem to have increased gradually over the years. Some of that has to do with the increase in television revenue that allows clubs to spend more on their first team. Some of that has to do with the potential increase in talent in the Championship as a result of an increase in foreign ownership with bigger paychecks. According to transfermarket, England’s second tier is now considered the sixth most expensive league in the world: ahead of the likes of Portugal’s Liga NOS and Russia’s Premier League. Either way, promoted clubs are now much more able to afford to spend money on an upgrade between the sticks to make sure they can stay in the Premier League for the long haul.

As for the idea that Marcus Bettinelli is this young goalkeeping star, some of that might be true based off of the data he produced last season. However, Bettinelli isn’t some wonderkid just coming off of being the number one in a European or World Youth tournament representing England like Jordan Pickford or Jack Butland did. Sure, Bettinelli was a part of England’s Under-21 European Championship campaign in 2015, but don’t forget that his fellow backup goalkeeper in that squad, Jonathan Bond, has struggled mightily for game time since that tournament. Now at 26, Bettinelli has had to fight his way once again to retain his place as Fulham’s number one.

You have to go back to John Ruddy as the last goalkeeper as young or younger than Bettinelli to guide his club towards promotion and then safety while at Norwich City. The remaining four goalkeepers as young or younger than Bettinelli to pull the same feat since 1995/96 are the following: Russell Hoult, Richard Wright, Boaz Myhill and Scott Carson. On the whole, that is quite a mixed bag of future talent guaranteed for long-term Premier League success.

Plenty of this information is a tad too anecdotal despite a big sample size, but if for anything else, this exercise shows how little evidence there is to show that it is a good idea to have someone like a Marcus Bettinelli to keep his job for a club like the 2018/19 iteration Fulham Football Club.