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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 11:00 GMT
What is wrong with Barthez?
A bad day for Barthez?
Fabien Barthez comes under fire once again after two costly errors during Manchester United's 3-1 defeat to Arsenal.

Was the Frenchman simply having a bad day at the office? Or is his showmanship costing Man Utd dear?


Barthez's latest high profile error has left some questioning whether or not he should be dropped from the first team.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper has won virtually every accolade in the game, including the World Cup and the European Cup with his native France.

Barthez has always been a showman, but a series of recent blunders have put him in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Where is Frenchman going wrong? Is he trying too hard to impress? Does he need a break from first team action?

Or is he being left too exposed by his defenders?


As a neutral, I was staggered by the way in which Man Utd played against Arsenal. To be fair to Barthez, I think only the third goal should be laid firmly at his door. The first was a misplaced pass by Gary Neville which lead to Ljundberg's superb chip, and for the second the entire defence was facing the wrong way when Barthez kicked the ball.

I would also agree with the Sky commentators when they said that far too many Utd players just didn't appear to have turned up for the game and were woefully short on ideas. I think that Sir Alex needs to do something drastic with his defence rather than allow his much-maligned goalkeeper to take all the flak.
Dave Lund Yates, UK

If Man U don't win anything this year, how many players have get-out clauses in their contracts? How many will want to keep playing for 'the best team in the world'? So many players say it was their dream to play for Man U, more like the dream to earn the kind of cash Man U are so willing to pay. If they don't win, the so-called fan numbers will start to decline, the merchandising will decrease and the players will leave. If I had shares I'd be selling.
Furious Indigo, UK

Fabien who?! As any Cambridge fan will tell you, there's only one world class French keeper in the English league- step forth Lionel Perez!
Niky, UK

I think that Barthez needs more support. He made a few mistakes but you have to say that Arsenal could have won by a lot more if Barthez didn't do his job so well. Nobody talks about the things he does so well, everybody is just nagging at him and this is not good for his self-confidence. Have respect for this great goalkeeper and give him a chance!
BJ, Germany

If you put Figo in the Cheltenham squad, after a while he too will deteriorate
A Mikes, Greece

I think all these United fans should calm down a bit. Of course making these mistakes is not good enough but I think that Barthez has saved his team alot more points than he has lost them over the last two years with some excellent goalkeeping. He has charisma in the way he plays, at least.
Marcus Hastings, UK

Barthez Butter fingers? People tend to forget that Barthez has had to compensate for an extremely weak defence, and I think that he is losing self-confidence as a censequence. I mean, if you put Figo in the Cheltenham squad after a while he too will deteriorate. This problem can only be cured by purchasing a quality defender, preferably British.
A Mikes, 15, Greece

Houllier was big enough to ditch Westerveldt when he realised he couldn't cut it, Ferguson should do the same as Barthez is costing them game after game with his arrogant showmanship that constantly backfires. I bet Ferguson is kicking himself that Schmeichal, a truly magnificant keeper, is doing the business for one of his team's rivals.
Iain Halstead, Athens, Georgia, USA

Barthez should be lucky he isn't playing for a manager like Houllier at Liverpool, otherwise he would be playing third team football by now.
Daqve Lanman, Taxas USA

According to locals in Barthez's area, his local cake shop frequently runs out of custard pies
Del, UK

Barthez should be dropped. I don't care how many brilliant saves a keeper makes in a game - if he then gives goals away then it counts for nothing. If he were to do it in one game, I would forgive him, but his stupid antics have cost us many games, and we've been lucky not to lose more (eg Blackburn this season). And the rest of his play is not that good anyway. He did make some great saves against Arsenal, but that is the job of a keeper at a top European club. Give Carroll a chance.
Derek Scholes, US

Vinnie Jones found a career as a movie hardman after leaving football, so at least Barthez will have no problem finding work in the field of slapstick comedy after he leaves football (which will be sooner rather than later at the rate he's going). It must be great being a Man U fan. Even when they lose, their fans still end up leaving the ground in fits of laughter courtesy of Barthez. Have you noticed that his nose is now beginning to take on a reddish hue and his feet seem to be getting longer - also, apparently, according to locals in his area, his local cake shop frequently runs out of custard pies.
Del, UK

Everyone is getting on Barthez's back because of a few errors (albeit stupid ones that shouldn't have happened), yet if you count the number of errors the rest of the defence make then you will see how well Barthez is actually doing. It was Neville's error that led to Arsenals first goal.

If a keeper makes an error it leads to a goal, if a defender makes an error he should be thankful to have a good keeper like Barthez behind them. I notice on this board that only a few people actually blame the defence, most of them only blame the keeper. The United fans out there only seem to be able to cope with one player being at fault not the entire back four.
Teddy, Manchester, Uk

If Ferguson drops Barthez it will prove to the footballing world that he has failed to find a suitable replacement for Peter Schmeichel. Bosnich was never given a chance and the Italian keeper who replaced him was out after just a couple of errors. Ferguson has been far more patient with Barthez. Having said that replacing Stam with Blanc and spending 28 million on a midfield that was already near perfect was questionable too!
Declan, UK

All the Reds fans hitting web sites, bemoaning their goalie, defence, Veron, Fergie...The phrase rats jumping a sinking ship springs to mind
Mike, Scotland

Come on guys give the him a break. I think he should be given at least one more outing in the Premiership and be encouraged to be as dangerous and haphazard as possible.
Chelsea Fan, England

The only thing funnier than the five-man Sunday afternoon comedy shows that United's defence generously put on for the nation is the reaction of all the Reds fans hitting various web sites, bemoaning their goalie, defence, Veron, Fergie...The phrase rats jumping a sinking ship springs to mind.
Mike, Scotland

As a United fan and regular match-goer, I feel that I am better qualified to comment on Barthez and the team than the majority of people on here. Fabian Barthez remains the best goalkeeper in the Premiership, if not the world. He has made a few mistakes this year, accepted. However, this is bound to happen every so often given his style of play.

Last season he was utterly outstanding and apart from the Di Canio incident did not make a single error or miskick. He dribbled, he tackled, he chipped balls over strikers or knocked it through their legs etc. and came out the winner every single time. This year is not going quite so well. A few things have not come off and his confidence has been knocked.

Many keepers make errors (some regularly) but do not get anywhere near the attention that Barthez is getting. With regard to the Arsenal game, Roy Keane had it right. The defence and midfield were as much to blame for constantly knocking it back to Barthez and sometimes putting him under too much pressure. The first was a simple miskick. The second was a mistake. He should NOT be dropped. He still makes crucial saves and will definately come good. The guy is a star.
Sarah, Manchester, UK

Fergie has made another mistake, but is too arrogant to admit he was wrong
Dave, UK

One of the arguments often spouted in favour of Barthez is that he is a World Cup medal-winner, therefore he must be good. Well, that means nothing. Mansell won the F1 drivers' championship, and most people who knew about the sport claimed said that Senna was far more talented.

The fact of the matter was that Mansell was sat in a superior machine. This can be said of Barthez and his World Cup-winning team. He is not the greatest keeper in the world, and Fergie has made another mistake, but is too arrogant to admit he was wrong, just like he was in selling Stam, buying Blanc and Silvestre. Roll on May.
Dave, UK

I think that the defence is the worst it has been in a long time and his mistakes are not the only reason why Man Utd are losing at the moment. If they sell one of the best defenders in the world what do they expect, to be as good as three seasons ago!!
Adam Chapman, England

I think the team has been weakened defensively by the arrival of Veron. He is a skilful player, but he doesn't defend as Scholes used to in midfield which is leaving the defence open.

Put Keane at the back with Brown, Scholes and Veron in the middle, and play two up front. Why change a system which has worked so well for us in the league? Fergie could still revert to a lone striker in European games, but with confidence so low, I think it's time to revert to safety, and to what United know best.
ST, Wales

Better to get rid of him now as long as the stakes are not very high
Khaled, Northern Ireland, UK

There is one certain thing with pouring so much praise on somebody - failure. Everyone believed Barthez is the best goalkeeper we have in the universe. He swallowed that and now you can see how we have spoiled him. Barthez is out to impress and show the world how flamboyant he is. Eventually what do we see? A total mess between the goalposts. It's high time Man United searched for another goalkeeper. The French team should then follow suit and name Coupet of Lyon as their number one. Good riddance spoilt Barthez.
Joel Maina, Kenya

The man doesn't even dress like a keeper. Get that stupid t-shirt off him and if he plays again (not for some time, hopefully,) get him into what every other goalkeeper knows is the right kit. He is woeful.
Hugh, England

Barthez lost the plot! Can't you see it? He is costing Man U dearly. It is better to get rid of him now as long as the stakes are not very high. Would you imagine such 'Barthez Blunders' in a Champions league final or semi-final?
Khaled, Northern Ireland, UK

Last season, we all predicted that his eccentricities would cause disasters but I can only recall one occasion when he was made to pay. Perhaps this season, it's pay back time? What disturbs me the most is that he doesn't seem too bothered when he makes these mistakes!
Robin, England

It's a new defender we need not a keeper. Leave Barthez alone!
Gazza Henshaw, Manchester, England

Barthez world class? Do me a favour. He is just another of those players that having signed for the so-called best team in the UK is unable to live up to the myth. Similarly Veron is totally over-rated. He like so many of Man Utd stars seem only to be able to perform against lesser opposition.

Incidentally has anybody else noticed that the great Van Nistelrooy can only seem to score against the weaker defences? I am a neutral and have no particular axe to grind but isn't it time people got wise to the hype surrounding these overpaid goons.
Dave, England

Barthez performs so well for France so why doesn't he perform for Utd? The answer is simple, the defence is badly unorganised so we need a leader to sort it out. It's a new defender we need not a keeper. Leave Barthez alone!
Gazza Henshaw, Manchester, England

I do not believe that Manchester United will win any trophies this season, domestic or European. Their problem stretches beyond Barthez amd manifests in the ignorance of Alex Ferguson's refusal to admit he is able to make mistakes. Instead of reversing his decisions he adds further layers to them.
Julian Pearce, UK

Again I feel I must add to the debate. Yes, Barthez is having a few bad games, but let us not forget what a world-class keeper he really is. It's just that with such a suspect back four in front of him, he is called upon to make a lot more saves. More saves mean that he is more likely to produce errors, and lose confidence. Sort out that defence, by playing Keane as a sweeper behind Gary Neville, Ronny Johnsen, and Mikael Silvestre.
Raymond Speer, Northern Ireland

No credit has been given for the string of quality saves that he made during the match
Rodger Edwards, UK

Barthez has proved what a waste of money he is over the past few weeks. Not only has he cost Man Utd goals against Arsenal, Liverpool, Deportivo and Newcastle, he would have cost them a goal against Leicester. If he had tried to play a one-two off any striker except Ade Aknibiyi, it would have been another goal of his own making. He was lucky Leicester's strikeforce is such a joke. Fergie should drop Barthez before it's too late, maybe a little time out of the limelight will allow his head to deflate a little.
Rael, England

No credit has been given for the string of quality saves that he made during the match. Without these saves, a below par Utd would have been on the wrong end of a real drubbing. To my uneducated eyes, one big problem seems to be that Veron and Keane don't seem to have much mutual understanding in their play.
Rodger Edwards, UK

Its easy, get someone to kiss his head before the game just like France did in the world cup. Then everything will be OK.
Colin Mackay, UK

Barthez is a great goalkeeper. Has anybody wondered why he performs well with the French national team and not Manchester United? The answer is simple: the defenders he has in the national team are not as inept as those in Manchester United's.
Jakaluo, Kenya

Maybe he is just bored and lacking motivation. They should try putting a defence in front of him...
Peter Robinson, England

I hope, as a neutral, Barthez stays because he is such an entertaine
Jonathan Kelk, Worcester, England

Why don't you just leave him alone! He's just another keeper making a another mistake. I am sick of hearing nothing else since Sunday. Surely the fact that Arsenal won 3-1 speaks more volumes.

If we say he should be droppped, it would make no difference. Alex Furgeeson makes the decisions and I think he will make the decision that he thinks will benefit his team.
Dave Smith, England

Although Sunday's match was a fair result, Barthez needs to go back to basics. United were being attacked for much of the second half, and even at 1-1, Barthez always seemed to be in a rush to distribute the ball when he should have held it, bellowing to his players to go further up the field before booting it.
Lee, UK

I hope, as a neutral, Barthez stays because he is such an entertainer. He is in many ways like Grobbelaar in Liverpool's winning team of the late 80s. I don't think bringing Keane back into defence would help. I remember when he played that position for a few games at Forest, and it was a disaster.
Jonathan Kelk, Worcester, England

Come on, it's so funny watching Barthez continuing to make these mistakes! It certainly makes the Premiership race a lot more interesting!
Elle, Newcastle, England

under no circumstances should Fergie drop Barthez - he's far too entertaining for the rest of us
Sean, London

Barthez is an absolute waste of space! He has the ability and the talent to be a quality goalkeeper, but his arrogance and lack of respect for his opponents, his club, and the game will be his demise.
Jim, Canada

Malcolm, are you having a laugh? There is no way United will win the Champions League! Barthez needs to be dropped in order for him to realise that he can't keep making mistakes and clown around any way he feels like - maybe dropping him and playing Carroll will make him realise he isn't indispensable!
Mark, Wales, UK

As a Leeds supporter, under no circumstances should Fergie drop Barthez - he's far too entertaining for the rest of us. Barthez seems to think he's invincible and as the errors of Sunday show he really isn't at all - especially with a somewhat suspect defence in front of him. I hope United continue to falter as it makes life a lot more interesting for the rest of the Premiership.
Sean, London

It is obvious for all to see that the problem does not just lie with Barthez but also with the rest of the defence and the system that Alex Ferguson insists on employing. He was hoping to bow out of his last season on a high but it seems as though his 45M spending spree in the summer has disrupted the system and caused unrest within the camp. Never mind, long may the unrest continue - I support Liverpool.
Parcera Unam, UK

Barthez is a fantastic keeper and I don't think for a second that he should be replaced but he needs to learn to concentrate a lot more. Roy Keane may be the man to help him do this. If Roy was playing at the back as a sweeper I feel the defence would relax a lot more and gain in confidence. I think the nervous defending is having a widespread effect throughout the whole team.

He is a top draw keeper and will prove his worth over time
TS Kuan, England

United's display against Arsenal was nervy and insecure. I don't think dropping Barthez will solve anything but a change in the defensive line up has to be a necessity. Well done to Scholes for getting his first goal in the league this season. Hopefully he will get his confidence back now. Come on you Reds! The title race isn't over yet.
Mike, UK

How delighted I am as an Arsenal fan. I believe Barthez should be given another chance because he is the one who kept them in the game before the last ten minutes. Without him the floodgates would have been long open about in the tenth minute. Dropping him will serve to increase United's woes
Julius Nyaika, Canada

Barthez is just one of a number of United stars having a poor season to date. Gary Neville has cost them lots of goals, as has Wes Brown. Each season United have a dip in form and everyone rubs their hands and forecasts the demise of a great team. Yes they have had an awful start but they are still only five points from the top of the league. Barthez is about to pick up another Champions medal.
Malcolm, England

It's simple...he's too big for his boots.... and his gloves are too large!
Bruce, England

Give the guy a break. It doesn't help the team that he is making such mistakes at the moment but he is a top draw keeper and will prove his worth over time.
TS Kuan, England

Why is Mr. Arsene Wenger defending a Manchester United goalkeeper?
PJ, Manchester, England

Barthez is an incredible shot-stopper and copes well with crossed balls. However, his need for attention on the pitch is costing United dearly in terms of results (e.g. Yesterday and against Deportivo at home). He needs to realise that playing for a team like Man Utd is not about having a suitable stage to massage his own ego, but about teamwork and solidity. Even though I'm an Arsenal fan and am chuffed at his blunders yesterday, I do think he is world-class...he's just got some growing up to do!
Alex De Schivanovits, London, England

Why is Mr. Arsene Wenger defending a Manchester United goalkeeper? How farcical! It'll be very interesting to see if he'll stand-up for David Seaman if the latter is the subject of similar goalkeeping blunders. In saying that, I doubt that David Seaman will ever be responsible for such costly errors. Perhaps it is time to write Aston Villa an open cheque for Peter Schmeichel to rescue our faltering season.
PJ, Manchester, England

United must try to put things right by using Roy Keane as a central defender, preferably as a sweeper. Barthez won't dare do silly things with someone like Keane breathing down his neck!
Hrafn Valgardsson, Iceland

Small car, red nose, big feet - Barthez is back in town.
David Swaddle, England

He will never be as good as Schmeichel
Joel, UK

When will Barthez realise that he is paid a considerable amount of money not to act like a complete idiot? We don't want another example of ineptitude like last night.
Mark Ellis, England

As an Arsenal fan I was delighted with the result yesterday, and despite Barthez's errors thought it was only a fair reflection of the match. Ferguson should stick with Barthez, who is a quality keeper. He should get rid of the dead wood though - here I'm talking about Blanc, Silvestre, Phil Neville, May, etc. etc.

United are a team of under-performing stars. The worry for the rest of the league is that they will probably still hit form, all at once. I think United will win the league again.
Oly, UK

I'm a Liverpool fan, and would just like to say you should be concerned about the fact the Barthez always seems to give a wry smile after his stupid mistakes, as though he's saying "oh well, silly me again". I'm sorry but that shows a lack of commitment to your club if you ask me.
Chris B, England

I believe Barthez is good enough to guard the goal but he will never be as good as Schmeichel, Kahn, Seaman etc. because he wants to entertain the crowd. He is a delight to watch if you are a neutral but Man Utd need to invest in someone who will do their job without trying to be the next Maradona six yards from your own goal. He is too risky and I think they will look to the continent within the next few months for a replacement.
Joel, UK

The guy has lost his confidence, the plot, and the patience of the fans
Mark, Swindon, England

Barthez may now be used as a scapegoat to disguise the stupid system employed by Fergie, but it should be remembered that until the 80th minute, he was the best player on the park and made 12 saves yesterday.

The first mistake he made was one anyone could make, but the second shows the flaws in Fergie's tactics. He should have put the ball into Row Z of the stands, but he felt compelled to play it with his hands when it was obvious that if he'd held it, he would have handled outside the box. When is the last time you saw a United player kicking the ball into the stand when under pressure?

Get a decent coach Fergie...or get out.... NOW!
Barry, Ireland

Let's get real about the Barthez situation - the guy has lost his confidence, the plot, and the patience of the fans. This is our worst back five since Fergie took over. It is more than just 'individual errors', which every player makes at some stage in the season. He is solely responsible for the total lack of confidence that is running throughout the team.

Roy Carroll has shown enough decent form in his few outings to suggest that he is more than up to the job so come on Fergie give Barthez an early Xmas break and get our team back on track.
Mark, Swindon, England

Barthez must go
Cass Smith, England

As a Liverpool supporter I'd be very interested to know whether the same detective team that investigated Bruce Grobbelaar's alleged match fixing have already started to build their case against Fabien Barthez...!
Peter Halpin, England

I have to say, despite the fact that I like his character at times; I do think that Barthez must go. Yes, he made some great saves in the first half against Arsenal but it is not enough and I think Carroll would have been up to the task without the added fear that he could do something crazy at any moment and lose us the game.

Watching United recently has been so tense and unpredictable that almost all of the old pleasure has been replaced by fear. Sacking Barthez won't solve everything but it will start to put us back on the right track.
Cass Smith, England

I think Barthez should be rested for two or three matches as he is feeling lot of pressure. He is a world-class goalkeeper and will overcome this situation.
Rajnish, India

All of the above. I am afraid that the defence is just falling to pieces: Silvestre is an embarrassment which gets worse with each game and each costly error, and Blanc will never be an adequate replacement for Stam. As for Barthez... I fear that another couple of performances like that could end our season, frankly. Of course he is good, but that kind of display is too costly.
Robert, England

Should Man Utd drop Fabien Barthez?



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26 Nov 01 |  Eng Prem
Wenger backs Barthez
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