Friday, 3 September 2010

Note for May - we could have signed a keeper in August

506 words. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The transfer window has shut and Manuel Almunia is still our number one, despite it looking certain Mark Schwarzer would be signed. It is disappointing now but doubtless this moment will remain at the forefront of our minds come April and May too.

For the past few seasons most of us have predicted our keepers had blown their final chance by making errors in major games - think back to the FA Cup and Champions League semi-finals in 2009 and last season's league games against Man Utd and the feeble way Fabianski performed against Wigan and Blackburn at the climax.

I was pretty convinced a new goalie would be one of the three signings Wenger indicated he would make at the end of the season. It still looked that way during pre-season as he declared he didn't have a first choice No 1. But now we face up to completing at least the first half of the campaign with two unreliable goalkeepers who have been undermined by all of the speculation.

It is a desperate situation and one where I struggle to comprehend Wenger's logic, let alone agree with it. Surely the issue cannot be money because our transfer outlay this close season has remained modest and having lost four central defenders (Senderos, Silvestre, Gallas and Campbell) and recruited two there must surely be room within the wages budget. It cannot be another example of Wenger's misguided loyalty either because Almunia and Fabianski have both had their fair share of second chances.

And it can’t be because there aren’t options available. Schwarzer would have been only a small improvement but there are dozens of other keepers out there who are easily considered better than Almunia and would surely be available at the right price – Stekelenburg from Ajax, Akinfeev from CSKA are two that spring to mind immediately. Hell, even Heinz Muller, someone we were linked with when he impressed at mighty Barnsley, is now impressing in the Bundesliga.

My only theory is that he believes Szczesny is the answer to our prayers and he doesn't want to risk stifling his progress / lose him in his quest to play first team football by buying someone else he would have to displace. But that would still be the wrong decision - it is a rare keeper who can come in at 20 or 21 and remain a first choice at that level.

No. Like the errors of judgement often made by his goalkeepers, this is just a mistake by Wenger, pure and simple. Our keepers aren't good enough and Wenger has failed to replace them despite overwhelming evidence, months of time and millions of pounds. I just don’t think Wenger sees goalkeeper as a crucial position, in the same way he doesn’t see a captain as that important a role. But it will annoy the likes of Fabregas and Vermaelen who have to play alongside people palpably worse then them and will annoy me because it could be difference between seriously challenging for major silverware or not.

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