Angus Gunn has called on English football fans to embrace goalkeepers playing out from the back, an approach the Manchester City youngster believes has huge benefits if executed correctly.
A number of Premier League managers have extolled the virtues of having a ball-playing stopper to act as an auxiliary outfield player, including Pep Guardiola, who wants his goalkeepers to be comfortable with the ball at their feet and capable of starting moves from deep.
Gunn, who joined City's academy setup in 2011, admits it’s a high-risk strategy – but he believes the rewards are worth it.
“Sometimes it can get a bit nervy when the opposition team come close to our box,” he says. “But that’s the sort of pressure the coaches and the manager want us to be under and want us to get through because then that gives us a better chance of attacking at the other end.
“Obviously, it’s English football and people aren’t used to it, but the sooner they get used to it the more enjoyable the game will be for them.
“It creates more space for the people in front to score goals.
“Obviously, not every team is going to come out and press. Chelsea, for example, sat back and counter-attacked, so that poses a different threat.
“Teams that press us, we want to get through them to score goals. That’s the main thought behind it. It’s not to look good – it’s to create more chances at the other end.”
Gunn says he’s comfortable with Guardiola’s approach having been exposed to possession-based football at EDS level prior to the Catalan’s arrival, firstly under the guidance of Patrick Vieira and then Simon Davies.
Throughout that time, he was encouraged to play with his feet and involve himself in the team’s passing in the defensive third, helping to start build-up play from deep.
It’s an example of City’s desire to have one style of play rolled out across every level of the football club, something Gunn feels is a positive.
“The style of play that we’ve implemented at the academy, even a few years before Pep Guardiola came in, has improved the young players at the club and given us a chance going forward with the manager,” he says.
“It’s a very similar style of play to the one he has implemented at first-team level, so anyone can go up to the first team and feel comfortable in their position.
“I’ve been used to it for a few years having played under Patrick Vieira and Simon Davies. That’s the style we have played for the last few years.
“The manager knew that when he came in and he’s spoken to me about it. He’d seen videos and it can only mean good things for me.”
He believes his involvement with the senior squad, along with the likes of Tosin Adarabioyo and Pablo Maffeo, is a huge boost to their confidence and offers hope that they can become regulars one day in the future.
“It feels great,” he says. “Training with the players we have every day improves us young players so much.
“You saw with Tosin and Pablo when they came on against Celtic, they looked like seasoned regulars.
“Just being involved with them every day in training is bringing us all on massively and hopefully that can continue.”