Burnley claim to be closing in on Tom Heaton. Editor of Bristol City blog The Exiled Robin, Paul Binning, gives us the low-down.
Tom Heaton has conceded more than 80 goals this season. He didn’t keep a clean sheet for the first 31 matches of his debut season with Bristol City and spent much of the previous three seasons picking up splinters whilst being a more than capable understudy to David Marshall at Cardiff.
However, if any Clarets are feeling apprehensive or surprised about their signing of a goalkeeper who on the face of it has done little to prove his credentials, there is little need to worry.
Dealing with matters chronologically, the feedback received from fans of the Bluebirds (they did play in blue then) was that a good keeper had crossed the Severn Bridge, a stopper who had become an overnight hero for them by saving two penalties in their League Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace, and following that up by pushing Steven Gerrard’s penalty to safety in the subsequent final. By knowing that the goalkeeper position is one of the few areas Cardiff fans feel don’t need strengthening following their promotion, you can gain an indication as to the quality of the man who largely kept Heaton out of the side.
Replacing ex-England & Liverpool goalkeeper David James at Ashton Gate may have proven a daunting experience for many, but Heaton showed confidence from day one, a single beacon of calm and strength amongst a dreadful defence. 80 goals may have gone past him but it’s difficult to pin too many on the former Manchester United ‘keeper. My season review explains where the blame lies and the fact Heaton was named as the club’s Player of the Year, despite the statistics, tells you all you need to know.
Of his personal skills there is little doubt shot-stopping is his biggest asset. Those penalty successes mentioned earlier are no surprise having watched a season long series of athletic and sometimes spectacular saves that have ensured City’s goals against column hasn’t entered treble figures.
The rest of his game is perhaps more open to question, simply because the attributes are more difficult to spot in front of a defence which was shaky at best.
Heaton appears to command the box fairly well, but when you’re trying to manage such inadequacy it can sometimes appear as if it’s not really happening. Was it? Wasn’t it? Time will tell when a stronger line of protection is afforded to him.
He comes for crosses well and generally gathers, although perhaps some fingers could be pointed at him at times for not coming and concluding the attack when, especially with a knowingly rocky set of defenders, he should have done. Again, with confidence gained from better numbers, it may have been a better picture.
He seems to be a nice guy. I don’t know why, but he just gives that impression more than many. His starring in City’s YouTube promotional video certainly endeared him to the West Country fan-base!
All in all I reckon Burnley have got themselves a very capable Championship number one, and I will look forward to seeing how he gets on with his return to the North West.