Keeper no place to take risks



Reports that Manchester United’s goalkeeping coach Eric Steele has watched Aalesunds stopper Anders Lindegaard on no less than five occasions raises questions over Edwin van der Sar’s successor. Mindful of the botched attempt to replace Peter Schmeichel, could United once again be tempted to take a risk on a key position?

With 39-year-old van der Sar increasingly likely to retire next summer, United will need to bring in a new first choice stopper. Ben Amos, 18, is not yet ready for the first team and Tomasz Kuszczak surely not good enough.

Supporters have debated the merits of ‘keepers from David de Gea, the brilliant Spain Under-21 international, to Manuel Neuer, Hugo Lloris and Igor Akinfeev. Few would have picked out Lindegaard though, essentially a journeyman stopper for the best part of an underwhelming career.

Should United bid, as reports now suggest is likely, it is a choice way out of left field.

Lindegaard, a 26-year-old Danish ‘keeper with just over 70 professional games in his less than stellar career, has made astonishing progress over the past year. Having been used mainly as a substitute for the first six seasons as a pro, Lindegaard looked to be drifting out of the professional game.

Indeed, the ‘keeper was originally offered to Norwegian Tippeligaen side Aalesunds on trial, and after impressing during an 18-game loan spell from Danish side OB Odense, he permanently signed for the mid-ranked side. Aalesunds finished 13th in the Tippeligaen last season but won the Norwegian cup for the first time in the club’s short history.

Glowing reports of Lindegaard’s performances earned the 6’4″ stopper a first call-up to the national team this season, making his international début for Denmark in September.

Growing as his stature might be, should United follow through with a bid for Lindegaard in the January window then the club will be taking a huge punt on van der Sar’s succession.

Supporters can no doubt point to the surprise signing of Schmeichel himself, but at 26 and already an established international, the great Dane was far less of a shot in the dark.

United has been here before of course. When Schmeichel semi-retired to the sunnier climes of Portugal after the 1999 Champions League final, the club embarked on a road of mediocrity, signing at least seven ‘first choice’ goalkeepers – and plenty of others to boot – before eventually settling on van der Sar in summer 2005. It came six years too late.

Ferguson’s choices in the position after Schmeichel’s departure ranged from the inconsistent Frenchman Fabian Barthez – sometimes brilliant, often far too eccentric – to the laughably hapless £4.5 million Massimo Taibi. The Italian was such a huge embarrassment for Ferguson and the club that United shipped the player out after just four games, never to be spoken of again.

Meanwhile, American Tim Howard initially excelled but eventually suffered from a chronic case of nerves before being sold down the East Lancs Road to Everton. Roy Carroll was never good enough to be a ‘keeper of the very highest standard, and Ben Foster failed to take his personal chance last season.

Cold sweats form when the horror show that was Andy ‘two’ Gorams, Mark Bosnich, and Ricardo is mentioned.

A repeat of the post-99 fiasco is the gamble United will take should the club go for Lindegaard, however good the Dane may become. At 26, the player is no youngster and despite playing for one of the continent’s smaller clubs, will not benefit from a move to England if it is only to reside in the reserves.

United certainly don’t need another squad ‘keeper next season either unless the club is also planning for Kuszczak’s departure.

Little to nothing is known of Lindegaard’s ability to play on the biggest stage, no matter how many times United’s coaching staff has done its due diligence. Crowds in Norway average below 10,000 and Aalesunds was knocked out of this season’s Europa League by Motherwell. It’s no preparation for the rigours of the Premier League.

Not that anything is settled of course, with the club having watched all of Europe’s best ‘keepers in the past year. While only Akinfeev was effectively ruled out, Ferguson along with Steele personally watched De Gea a fortnight ago.

Lloris and Neuer will prove undoubtedly expensive – perhaps too much so for the Glazer family’s tastes. Meanwhile brilliant though De Gea is, at just 19-years-old the Atletico Madrid player is perhaps equally perilous.

This is, after all, a key acquisition. Whomever eventually joins the club after van der Sar hangs up his gloves will need to perform from the off. Goalkeepers, as Taibi will stand testament, are rarely given time to make mistakes in the Old Trafford cauldron.

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Comments

  1. I think Neuer should be the first choice. Also after VDS retires, Kuszczak may also leave the club if he isn’t picked as the number one keeper. So we may be looking for two keepers effectively. Thats where Lindegaard might be useful.

  2. I agree with you that Tomasz Kuszczak is not good enough to be number 1. But I don’t think we should take the risk and sign Lindegaard.

    I think Igor Akinfeev or Rene Alder are good for United.. or what about a keeper already playing in the EPL.. maybe Ali Al Habsi is a good option (He is doing well and can do better with good defenders like Rio and Vidic!)

    Anyway..wish SAF good luck in choosing the best replacment for VDS

  3. Don Pablo says:

    I’d go for Neuer. He’s like a bigger version of Cech and looked very solid at the World Cup. Plus at 24 its a worthy long term investment. Akinfeev a good shout too.

  4. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    we’ll sign a keeper in the summer, it’ll be some unknown cunt like this one, it’ll be to replace kuszsak, vds will get a new deal

  5. redevil_83 says:

    i see VdS getting a 1 yr extention also, and a replacement coming in for kuzcack who has already indicated dissatisfaction and will probably bounce…

  6. herbie simms says:

    They will sign 19 year old David de Gea. Ferguson went over to Spain personally to watch this player. Next summer, de Dea will be 20 going 21. Yes, Van de Sar will sign for another year and Kuszczak will move on. I don’t think any new midfield players will be bought in January. I read an article from Alex Ferguson this morning and Fergie is saying that he is bringing back Tom Cleverley from Wigan in January. He claims he should not have sent him to Wigan in the first place. Seems to me, Fergie really does not have the money, so this is the best he can do with what little money he has.

  7. Red Forever says:

    I think Manuel Neuer would make a really great number one at United. Big, solid, & agile. Price might be a bummer of course, but like ur article reads it’s one position that we shouldn’t take risks on…

  8. Neuer…best bet.

  9. United Fan says:

    I’m German & I say Manuel Neuer is the best keeper in the world. He’s the type of keeper whose very sight of makes strikers quake & hesitate…Something Peter Schemeichel used to do! Big frame, experienced, immense reflexes. Anyone who hasn’t heard of him should check out his videos. I hope Manchester United don’t waste money on untested keepers again. Neuer’s a gem of a keeper!

  10. mongoletsi says:

    I’ve read a few times of late that we’re after Bufon. He’s only about 31 I think. That’d work.

  11. I thought Akinfeev was good for CSKA when they played at OT. VDS’s last season will probably be 2011-12, which will probably mean TK goes this summer & United bring in Lindegaard as cover (they already have a young gun in Ben Amos who has played for Eng at youth level).

    • No-no, Akinfeev has severe motivation problems, now at CSKA at least.
      I live in Moscow and see him play now and then – he dropped his level substantially.

  12. Seems to me that if we do sign this guy it’s unlikely to be for first choice, but more likely to replace TK – who has made it clear he wants first team football. But then again, would United scout a reserve keeper that much?

    My hope is for de Gea.

    Forgive me if my memory is incorrect, but I don’t remember Bosnich being too bad. The season he was in net we won the league by miles. I thought Fergie moved him on due to his character and off the field antics – and he was proven right to do so. As a keeper he was fine though – wasnt he?

  13. Bosnich was not too bad – kicking was poor though. On the note of De Gea it depends on how highly they rate Amos. An outside bet would be Given, but I think City would have to sell him to somebody else first!

  14. Psychological strength is important for a keeper and with the Germans being notoriously mentally tough, Neuer could be a good shout. Playing for United requires mental toughness to cope with the pressures of being at one of the world’s top 5 football clubs.

  15. Never understood why SAF never went for a German Goalie or Midfielder…
    errrrr..we aint got a Jew on the Board?..hmmmmm or have we?

  16. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    lampard really shat himself at the sight of the big kraut cunt when he chipped him from thirty yards

  17. I’ve seen Akinfeev a few times now – he reminds me of Foster, a good shot stopper but prone to concentration lapses.

    If there’s no obvious candidate emerging, how about a punt on Shay Given? He has proven quality.

    The big question is whether City would sell to us.

  18. Given would fit the VDS mould – proven world class keeper in mid 30s, minimal fee required. I don’t think City would sell direct so Given needs to get out & then play somewhere else until VDS retires at the end of next season. If I was Wenger I would be getting my cheque book out in the window! City might not sell to them either though!

  19. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    givens not good enough and he’s too short

  20. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    givens not good enough and he’s too short

    If you name the best 5 keepers in the history of the Premier League he would be in it. Schmeichel would be first of course.

    Too short! He’s played over 10 years at the highest level, if that was a problem it would be found out by now!! What a load of absolute rubbish.

  21. He’s shit at organizing defences

    He should sign for Arsenal, but Wenger’s an idiot

  22. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    ‘d wager he’s let in more goals against us than any prem keeper ever

  23. Martin Stekelenburg was good in the world cup and hes about the right age

  24. danniitronix says:

    fergus has refused to solve the biggest time bomb the club has faced so why should we think he will solve it now

    the only reason VDS has kept a clean sheet is when rio has played this season

    when rio has played the team has kept a clean sheet except for carling shit when kuksushsush was in goal so that dont count

  25. Neuer was brilliant against England and in general at the World Cup. I’d take him in the summer and alternate between the two (him and VDS) until Edwin can’t play any more.

  26. If VDS goes at the end of the season that could cause a real problem. GK is a position where you want stability and there aren’t many keepers out there who would be good enough to be a dead cert starter.

    Stekelenburg is good but isn’t guaranteed to be of United quality. The pressure at OT can be a big factor. That is why an experienced keeper like Given might be the best bet. An outside short term replacement in the VDS is Mark Schwarzer.

    Its important United get this right, especially after taking a long time to find Schmeichel’s replacement. Its not a position you should really rotate like the midfield.

  27. baggio365 says:

    cant alternate keepers. you need one first team keeper. its a confidence thing. if we buy a new first team keeper, then VDS should retire. if VDS is handing around, then the keeper we bring in, should know that he’s starting off as second choice.

    if they buy the danish guy, he’s most likely being signed as a back up to VDS. if he comes good then great, but if not, he’ll be back up for the next 3-4 yrs.

    looks like kuszczak wants to leave. he;s done his time on the bench. he’s not going to be first choice. he should be allowed to leave.

    neuer, de gea, akinfeev etc are all bright young goalkeepers. the thing is, we dont know how any of them will react to playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, only coming into action less than 5% of the game, and needing to be at thier very best that entire time. its easy being a good keeper when you have a shit defense. you’ll always have a few “highlights” every game, cause you have that many shots blasted against you. of the above three, neuer easily has the most top level experience. doesnt necessarily mean he’s the best choice for us. the safest option is a move for buffon. still relatively young for a keeper, though he has been plagued by injuries recently. if we move for a young keeper, it will always be a gamble.

  28. danniitronix says:

    goaly and defence is all about partnerships and Bagg is spot on – only reason for VDS to stay is as a goaly coach.

    rio – vidic – plus “x” – is the first choice with only evans, smalling and amos coming to back-up when others injured

    consistency and leadership is needed at the back and that triangle needs time to bed in – all of above candidates are good – anything but VDS for another year please

  29. The points made in the last two points are very valid. There is a rumour that United have put a bid in for Buffon. To be honest he could tick all the boxes.

    He’s the right age, world class & has all the big match experience having played for Juve & Italy. He actually replaced VDS in Juve, which prompted him to move to Fulham in 2001.

    If TK goes too bring in Lindegaard to back up Buffon. He would be a solid back up & Scandinavians understand the squad game better than most & are solid pros.

    That would be my prefered option, Buffon with Lindegaard & Amos as back-ups.This would cost United 20 mill for Buffon, 10 for Lindegaard – 30 mill minus any money got for TK.

    Sadly we all know that in the current financial climate this is very unlikely. Gill says we have the money, ok then go out there and prove it.

  30. Agree Buffon is a class act, unfortunately he has back problems. Can you imagine both him and Rio standing in the aisle on flights to Europe? Too much of a risk especially after the fiasco with Hargreaves

  31. Yep due diligence needs to be taken over any future purchase, especially at this key position.

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