The Thankless Task: The Curse Of Being A Manchester United Goalkeeper

There’s no denying that we’ve had some ups and downs over the replacements of our long serving goalkeepers over the years, the tirade of goalkeepers that followed in the years after Peter Schmeichel left ranged from promising, to terrifying, to supposedly good until they were hit by what appeared to be a United goalkeeping curse, and sometimes ending in, Fergie, dude, what were you thinking?

There was Taibi, Bosnich, Barthez, Carroll, Ricardo, Goram, and even Van Der Gouw who had served as second choice to Peter. Now Taibi, despite his dubious moments was brilliant for at least the majority of his debut in the Liverpool game, considering he only played four games for us, that’s not bad going. Yes, Southampton and Chelsea are the ones that stick in your head but the boy did have some talent, the saves he made showed that, but a bit of talent isn’t enough to be a top class goalkeeper. I’ll never for the life of me understand why we resigned Bosnich. Yes he was decent at Villa, but we had already decided he wasn’t good enough. If someone proposes to you and you tell them no; saying yes a decade later because no one else came along really isn’t going to ensure you happiness in any shape or form.

I’m still assuming that we signed Barthez because he had a really shiny head/world cup winner’s medal. Either that or it was a ploy to finally get Laurent Blanc to sign for United the following season, luring him with the promise of getting to kiss Barthez’ head on much more regular basis. I’m not calling Barthez a bad goalkeeper. He made great saves a plenty for us. But you should never look for an entertainer as a goalkeeper, and Barthez was nothing if not entertaining. The lack of consistency made his reign more painful to watch than the attempts of any other goal keeper, because more was expected of him. After all, he was a World Cup Winner. With, as previously mentioned, a really shiny head.

Carroll.. again, not a bad goalkeeper. But never United quality. Neither were Andy Goram or Ricardo. Van Der Gouw.. out of the lot of them, probably showed the most consistency and remains perhaps one of our most underrated goalkeepers under Fergie. And Timmy Howard. Timmy, Timmy Howard. Howard is a good goalkeeper, that’s not even a question. But the way in which he played for us at times, gave Fergie cause for worry, and he eventually left. Maybe because Fergie just couldn’t bring the consistency out of him that Moyes and Everton have..

Maybe because Fergie just isn’t very good at dealing with goalkeepers in general.

Which brings me to present day…

There was the Pole and Foster of course, both of whom were brought in as possible replacement to Van Der Sar, that beautiful Dutch man who once again brought serenity to our goal area. I didn’t know why, I don’t know why, I never will know why we signed Tomasz Kuszczak. Now, the boy made some good saves both pre and during his United team, but then again, I made some glorious saves on the pitch during my school years, yet Fergie has never asked me to step in. Ben Foster… I’ll admit I had hope for Ben, I thought he had a lot of natural skill and that he could develop into a first team goalkeeper. Sadly Ben Foster is also a complete idiot, who thought he was a lot better than he was and whose development just never went to where many thought it would.

But I digress, which really is for the better, as I’m quite bitter about Foster.

Now all of this might just sound like I’ve mentioned a bunch of goalkeepers just to fill up space in a blog, but believe it or not I am trying to make a point. And at some point I might even get to it.

Fergie isn’t good at signing goalkeepers!

Yes Peter and Van Der Sar were great for us. However, the sheer number of bad goalkeepers we have signed is absolutely astonishing, and quite frankly a neutral person may indicate the fact that we found a great in Schmeichel may have been more luck than judgement. Ferguson has a strange relationship with goalkeepers. He deals with them in strange ways, and at times we sign them and it looks like it’s an act of sheer desperation/the result of a dart being drown at a list of names.

That’s why I’m worried about our current goalkeeping situation.

I’ll admit I was pretty excited when we signed David De Gea. The boy had so much potential, on top of actual realised potential at an age that is equivalent to being a baby in goalkeeping terms. I figured that if this boy could keep going down the road of development he had, we’d be set for a number one for years to come. The signing of Lindegaard the year before didn’t really excite or disappoint me. I do now feel quite happy he’s a United player, although I’m not utterly convinced whether this is due to his goalkeeping abilities or the fact that the boy is just very, very funny. The problem of course with having two decent goalkeepers is that some people find it difficult to decide which goalkeeper they’d rather see in goal. Apparently, this also applies to Sir Alex, despite the fact that he’s given De Gea the number one shirt, and said he is our number one goalkeeper.

Now I’m all for dropping players when they’re not performing, although this is an area in which Sir Alex lacks consistency. Some players can underperform for weeks, or even months and yet be sure to be in that starting eleven. Alas, not if you’re a goalkeeper. To me the most important thing for a young goalkeeper, is giving them the chance of growing both as a player, as a commander of their area… as well as the giving their confidence a chance to grow. As a young goalkeeper at United, that’s made very difficult for you. De Gea has just been dropped for two games, because of one mistake against Fulham (Fergie’s words, not mine, so calm down those of you who think I’m wrong), despite some great saves in the same game.

Encouraging competition? Perhaps.

Encouraging our supposed number one’s abilities and developing our back four’s confidence in said goalkeeper? No. United have had enough problems with goalkeepers and defence over the years, and with goalkeepers in particular not all of those problems have been caused only by lack of goalkeeping talent.

I’m not sure whether Fergie just doesn’t like goalkeepers and thus doesn’t like giving them the time of day, or if his belief in tough love extends only to those who call him a c*nt… or those who make a mistake in goal. But whatever the reason…I wish he would get over it. The last thing the team needs is more instability. The way in which we have played over the last seasons has at times shown a team who doesn’t know how to play together, and vulnerability such as that at the back has left us dropping unnecessary points.

So Fergie, please I beg of you… don’t let another goalkeeper fall victim to the curse of being a Manchester United goalkeeper.

I know you miss Edwin, just like you missed Peter. But even those two were not faultless. So let that kid learn, let him make mistakes, and for the love of Eric let the boy play. We could end up with a goalkeeper. who if happy could be solid for us for a good decade, closer to two if he wants to play for us throughout the rest of his career (I know, unlikely in today’s football climate) So let him make mistakes, because he will, just like Peter did, just like Edwin did. If you weren’t willing to let the boy make mistakes, you should never have made him number one.

Now that you have……please, just stand by it.

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About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.

1 Comment

  1. Really great read!

    Whilst you could argue that De Gea’s lack of first team games could hamper his progression, you could just as easily say that the competition means he won’t rest on his laurels and will work twice as hard thus ultimately becoming better. Look at Tim Howard. Perhaps if he’d been in a similar position as De Gea is now, with someone really pushing him, he’d have turned out better. He arrived like De Gea, young and inexperienced (not as young but still young) but as you allude to in the article, Fergie stuck with him for the first season at least, but you could argue his mistakes were never stamped out because he was undisputed first choice despite them. Now, if De Gea makes a mistake he’s dropped. I reckon this could bring the best out of him eventually. If De Gea kept goal despite his mistakes, we could have another Tim Howard. Time will tell and it could go either way…

    Agree about Foster though, I was really happy to see a young English keeper with massive potential looking set to become our eventual number 1. Complete idiot though as you say…

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