Should Ederson take penalties for Man City?

Revealed: Ederson's penalty technique and history

Should Ederson take a penalty for Manchester City if the opportunity arises? It looked like he was going to last Saturday, as he ran upfield when City were awarded a penalty when the score was 0-0 in the win against Spurs.

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By that point, Rodri had snatched the ball and was spotting it. Ederson spoke to Bernardo Silva, who relayed his message to the kicker. Rodri admitted that Ederson had told him ‘some specific points about Lloris and where I should put the penalty’.

He didn’t listen, Lloris dived the right way, and Rodri was lucky to see the penalty squirm under the goalkeeper’s arm. “He was not a good taker,” said City coach Pep Guardiola after the game. City have missed three penalties from eight this season and in recent matches, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan had missed from the spot. (City’s previous first-choice kickers Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne are currently injured.) Before this game, Guardiola said that it’s “a half-joke” that he was considering Ederson to take a penalty.

As City approach the Champions League knock-out phase, this is becoming a serious issue for Guardiola to sort out - not least because Guardiola has a history of his teams missing key penalties in this competition (I will explain why this is not a coincidence in a future edition).

This might be why Rodri appointed himself the team’s penalty-taker against Spurs. “I told my team-mates in the week I would take the next penalty, no-one took the ball away from me and fortunately I scored,” he said.

Rodri had never taken a penalty before and his kick was poorly struck. In fact, his penalty might add further evidence to the case for Ederson taking a penalty; as might the goalkeeper’s majestic assist late on in the game.

So the key question as City head into crunch knockout games against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League and the League Cup final against Spurs is whether Ederson should get the job or not. Ederson has been quoted as saying: “I am the best penalty taker but I am not chosen to take them!” But what proof do we have, other than his own words, of his penalty excellence?

In fact, all I could find, thanks to Brazilian reporter Marcus Alves, was this penalty that Ederson took in a charity friendly match back in 2019 (1 min 10 seconds).

Ederson is playing outfield in this match, wearing the number ten shirt. He is team captain, up against the team of Brazilian singer MC Guimê.

I was surprised by his strategy: he went Goalkeeper-Dependent and, off a slow run-up, rolled the ball gently with his left foot to his non-natural side. For some reason I was expecting a David Luiz-type long run-up and a belter down the middle - that’s down to the bias of seeing his goal-kicks, and my lack of imagination!

The ‘Ederson is a penalty expert’ story has its roots at Sao Paulo, where Ederson trained for one year before moving to Benfica at 16. At Sao Paulo, there is a mythology of scoring goalkeepers, thanks to Rogerio Ceni, below, their former club legend who scored 132 goals for the club (70 penalties, 61 free-kicks, and one from open play).

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It is a policy of the club’s training programme that every goalkeeper from the youth ranks upwards practises taking free-kicks and penalties. Ederson was no different. Sao Paulo has yet to find a true glove-wearing goalscoring successor to Ceni, but that has not stopped them trying.

They did sign Jean, a goalkeeper currently on loan at Atletico Goianiense. He has scored five goals from the spot this season, the most recent in last week’s draw with Santos. I watched a recent penalty he took against Fluminense and his method was GK-Dependent, with a slow run-up and a left-footed kick (and, as you can see below, a small hop on approach). In fact, it was uncannily similar to Ederson’s.

Ederson said that he also trained taking free-kicks and penalties in Portugal. There is no record of him taking a penalty at Benfica or Rio Ave, though he did take some free-kicks at Ribeirao, when he was playing in the Portuguese third tier. No goals, though.

The pro-Ederson taking penalties argument seems to be:

He says he’s the best penalty-taker at City 

He trained penalties and free-kicks with Sao Paulo and in Portugal

The anti-Ederson taking penalties argument seems to be:

He says he’s the best penalty-taker at City

He trained penalties and free-kicks with Sao Paulo and in Portugal

And there’s your dilemma right there! Ederson has played over 300 professional and not taken a penalty in any of them. It’s true that the culture of European football does not encourage goalkeepers to take penalties. No goalkeeper has scored from the spot in the Premier League: the five that have scored were from corners (Peter Schmeichel and Brad Freidel) or long-kicks (Paul Robinson, Tim Howard, and Asmir Begovic).

It’s as though no-one has forgotten Hans-Jorg Butt’s disaster against Schalke. In 2004, the Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper scored a penalty, and was so busy celebrating that he was slow to get back to his position. That allowed Mike Hanke to lob him from the kick-off and pull the goal back immediately. This can easily be avoided if the penalty-scoring team wait for the goalkeeper to be in position before moving into their own half to allow the opposition to kick off again.

The other danger is if the penalty is saved and the goalkeeper launches a quick counter. This can be solved, as goalkeeping coach David Preece explains below, if City leave bodies back to mitigate against the counter.

I found two goalkeepers who have scored from the spot this season: Armend Blakçori for Ulpiana in the Kosovo Cup and Eibar’s Marko Dmitrovic, who scored against Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak in La Liga. “The coach told me to take it as we missed our last two penalties,” Dmitrovic said.

I would love to see more goalkeepers take penalties. And I would love to see Ederson take a penalty. But ‘Should he take a penalty?’ is a different question entirely. I’m not so sure he should. In a huge European tie, if I was a City fan, I would be a bit worried if Ederson stepped up for an important penalty. If City were already 3-0 up, then maybe; otherwise, I’d stick with Gundogan or Sterling. Sorry to be a party-pooper!

What do you think? Would you pick Ederson to take a penalty? Let me know in the comments below.

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