“He doesn’t have big swings in readiness. He’s able to be ready, which
is a skill in itself.
“He’s a very professional guy,” continues Hartis. ”He takes his work seriously. I think since I’ve been
back here he’s only missed one training session,
so he’s on the grass, doing what’s asked of him,
every single day. His mentality fits in with the
other top keepers that I’ve had the opportunity
to work with. Edwin van der Sar was like that.
Sergio fits in with an elite-level goalkeeper.”
While the fundamental role of a goalkeeper
remains the same – keep the round thing out of
the net – Hartis concedes that the specifications
of the position have evolved in tandem with football’s
wider trends, putting greater demands on Romero
and his fellow custodians to be ingrained in the
collective’s approach to any given fixture.
“Now, teams attack with 11 and defend with says the coach, who spent 10 years at the
Reds between 2000 and 2010 before rejoining
for a second stint last summer.
“The keepers are
more integrated into the build phase, how you
break the press. They have to understand how the
opposition are pressing, they have to understand
where their optimal support positions are, and
the strengths of the players, as footballers, who
they’re playing with. The out-of-possession game
hasn’t changed that much other than maybe
the balls are a little bit quicker and the players
are a little bit quicker.
“Also the referee now, with
VAR, has an effect, and many of these things are
evolving. Good goalkeepers have to affect the
game out of possession. They have to get a team
playing when others can’t and save things that
others can’t. That’s what goalkeepers here do. If you look at Sergio tactically, he’s very astute,
so he processes lots of information very quickly
with the game to help his decision-making, in
the same way that David does.
goalkeepers do that. They’ve got this big bank
of knowledge that they can access and so when
he’s asking questions about the opposition and
how they press, that process becomes quite
streamlined because he’s asking the really
good questions that helps him get to what he
needs to know really quickly. When we have the
conversations around being either in or out of
possession, the tactical requirements, Sergio picks
it up really quickly because of his experience.”