Following Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League, focus has immediately shifted to the areas of the squad where investment is needed in order for upgrades to top-flight quality.
Yet the goalkeeping position represents one position that does not require an overhaul.
Despite many claims to the contrary, goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli deserves a chance to prove himself in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old brings indispensable key skills to the Fulham squad, possessing excellent shot-stopping skills along with the ability to reinvigorate the team as a whole.
Remarkably, Bettinelli has overseen both of Fulham’s superb runs of form over the past two seasons.
In the 2016/17 campaign, Bettinelli was second-choice for the majority of the season, yet was recalled to first team action after David Button’s horror-show against Derby in April.
After Bettinelli returned to the starting lineup, Fulham were unbeaten and won five out of their last six matches, securing a play-off spot in spectacular fashion.
Following that season’s semi-final defeat at the hands of Reading, Bettinelli suffered an injury in preseason and lost his place to Button yet again.
The Englishman had to wait until December 2017 to return to the starting 11, and immediately won his first game against Birmingham.
It was the start of an incredible run, where Fulham would lose just three matches in the following 29 games. During that superb spell, Bettinelli kept 14 clean sheets and let in just 20 goals.
After losing two matches in a row in May, the Fulham goalkeeper responded admirably and kept two consecutive clean sheets in Fulham’s biggest matches of the season en route to promotion glory.
These stunning runs of form always seem to occur just as Bettinelli returns to the side, and although all of Fulham’s resurgences cannot be attributed to the goalkeeper, his skills are undoubtedly a major factor.
The shot-stopper has an incredible knack for keeping clean sheets, and his fantastic saves have averted disaster for the club on many occasions.
A perfect example of Bettinelli’s value to Fulham came in the Whites’ clash with Leeds United in April.
Leeds looked certain to score when Caleb Ekuban was slipped through in the second half, yet the Fulham ‘keeper made an outstanding one-on-one stop to deny the striker.
Moments later, the Cottagers scored on the counter-attack and secured all three points- without Bettinelli’s intervention, the score would have been all square at 1-1, instead of a 2-0 lead.
Overall, there are more pressing positions at Fulham that need strengthening (such as centre-midfield, right-wing, and right-back); a costly outlay on a new goalkeeper would be superfluous.
As a result of the Camberwell-born goalkeeper’s heroics and value to team morale, Marcus Bettinelli should be given a chance between the sticks in the Premier League.