Tag Tomasz Kuszczak

Tag Tomasz Kuszczak

How to lose fans and alienate your manager

November 8, 2011 Tags: Opinion 36 comments

Poor Tomasz Kuszczak. Not only is his name nigh on unspellable, at least without Wikipedia’s aid, but the Polish goalkeeper has become a last bastion of a modern-day slavery. Trafficked from his place of birth in Krosno Odrzańskie, Poland to Old Trafford, Kuszczak has been asked, no, compelled to play for the world’s most supported football club, Manchester United, on no less than 61 occasions.

That Kuszczak has endured this horror five seasons long, comforted only – for what little comfort money can bring – with compensation of £25,000 per week only adds to the indignity of it all. No wonder that it proved all too much for the Pole, who has finally cracked after being denied a loan move to Leeds United.

“I’ve become a slave to Manchester. I’m frustrated but I don’t want to slander or criticise Ferguson,” said the 29-year-old stopper, before criticising and then slandering Sir Alex Ferguson.

“It’s not my style. I’ve talked to Ferguson recently. I asked him to let me leave the club now, before the January transfer window. I told him I want to play and get back into the national team, because Euro 2012 is just around the corner – but it seems he doesn’t care. The possibility of a two-month loan to Leeds United came up two weeks later. The club blocked it. It was a glimmer of hope for me. It would have reminded the Poland manager about me – but I didn’t get the club’s approval. I have respect for Ferguson because, for me, he’s a great manager, but I hope he will let me go in January.”

Fortunately for Kuszczak, whose contract runs to June 2012, there is almost nobody at Old Trafford – fans, players, coaching staff, manager or tea lady – that wants any different for the big-mouthed Pole, who has become increasingly vocal in his failure to land a more permanent role at United. Five years after joining the Reds from West Bromwich Albion, Kuszczak’s inability to land the number on spot in Ferguson’s side has surprised few. Save for a brief spell two years ago, when Edwin van der Sar took time off to spend with his sick wife, Kuszczak has rarely looked a man with United-calibre talents.

Moreover, now relegated to fourth choice behind David de Gea, Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos, Kuszczak’s bizarre decision to self-publicise a desired move to Leeds is unlikely ingratiate the ‘keeper with anybody at the club. Least of all his manager, who has never reacted well to being embarrassed in the media. It is a fact Jaap Stam will recall well.

Yet, this is a sad end for a stopper whose talent was good enough to take him to Old Trafford, but not to propel the former Hertha Berlin player ahead of van der Sar in the pecking order. Ferguson’s decision to recruit first Lindegaard, and then De Gea, was the final nail in Kuszczak’s United career. In that there is some sympathy; United reportedly asked for £4 million in the past summer. It is a fee that would have represented a profit on a player, who has never been more than a reserve, and less than a year to run on his contract.

However, with three Premier League winners’ medals – each via special dispensation – two League Cups, three FA Community Shields, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup, Kuszczak will carry away more silverware than a man of his limited talents would normally. It is a good haul, especially for a player who has completed just one full season in an entire career, and that was just 28 games.

At international level Kuszczak was selected by coach Franciszek Smuda for friendly matches against Romania and Canada last year, but is considered far from first choice. Indeed, the player’s 10 caps have been spread over eight years. With Arsenal duo Wojciech Szczęsny and Łukasz Fabiański available, it is unlikely Kuszczak was ever going to start Poland’s attempt to win Euro 2012 when it kicks off in Warsaw on 8 June 2012, even had a move to Leeds materialised.

Having insulted club and manager, Kuszczak’s fate is now out of his own hands. At least until his contract runs down and the 29-year-old can negotiate a free transfer away from his personal hell.

Tomasz Kuszczak Facts

Hertha BSC – 2001–2004 – 0 appearances
West Bromwich Albion – 2004–2006 – 35 appearances
Manchester United – 2007– present 61 appearances
Poland national team – 2003-present – 10 appearances

DFB-Ligapokal: 2001, 2002
Premier League: 2007, 2008, 2011
League Cup: 2009, 2010
FA Community Shield: 2007, 2008, 2010
UEFA Champions League: 2008
FIFA Club World Cup: 2008

Four left in United limbo

September 3, 2011 Tags: , , , Opinion 10 comments

A quartet of fringe players, each included in Manchester United’s Premier and Champions League squads this week, may seek to move out of the club on loan once the window opens next week. Although the English summer transfer season closed at 11pm last Thursday night, with no dramatic last-minute deals brokered by Sir Alex Ferguson, players can move to the Championship and certain overseas markets from 8 September. Darron Gibson, Tomasz Kuszczak, Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda may seek temporary opportunities elsewhere, having seen no action to date this season.

Indeed, of the quartet only Macheda is unavailable for permanent transfer, with some surprise that Gibson, Kuszazck and Diouf were unable to find new permanent homes this past summer. Gibson and Kuszazck spent pre-season with United’s reserves, while Diouf was afforded minimal opportunities with Ferguson’s first string on tour in the US. None of the quartet has featured in Ferguson’s squads for Premier League matches to date.

While an ankle injury suffered by Darron Gibson may have ended Aston Villa’s reported interest in the midfielder, the Irishman is unlikely to find a route to Ferguson’s first-team squad, let alone team in the coming weeks. Although the Scot failed to add a marquee signing to his central midfield resources over the summer, Tom Cleverley’s outstanding form so early this season has removed any requirement for Gibson to remain at Old Trafford. Quite why a £6 million move to Sunderland broke down in July remains a mystery, with Sunderland briefing journalists that the Irishman’s wage demands were too high but Ferguson claiming the Wearside club had changed its offer.

Meanwhile, Kuszazck’s inability to find a new club leaves the Pole third choice behind David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard. A mooted transfer to West Bromwich Albion ended when former United stopper Ben Foster joined the Midlanders. CSKA Moscow then failed to follow up a reported interest in the former Hertha Berlin ‘keeper with a concrete offer. The 29-year-old ‘keeper has made just 61 appearances in all competitions during five seasons at Old Trafford; it is almost inconceivable that Kuszazck will add a 62nd appearance to that total.

Then there is Diouf, whose loan spell at Blackburn Rovers last season yielded just three Premier League goals in 26 appearances for Steve Kean’s outfit. No wonder, perhaps, that there have been no takers this summer. Two goals against New York Cosmos during Paul Scholes testimonial appeared to offer the Senegalese striker a glimmer of hope but with seven strikers in Ferguson’s squad the £3.5 million January 2009 acquisition can only hope for sporadic opportunities in the Carling and FA Cups this season.

Macheda faces a different challenge of course, with Ferguson seeking to retain the striker in the long-term. But it is now three seasons since the Italian burst onto the scene with match changing goals against Villa and Sunderland and the youngster must surely now play to progress. Yet there appears to be little chance of the Rome-born player breaking into Ferguson’s first team plans as Danny Welbeck has done to such great effect this season. Indeed, it is a major surprise that United was seemingly unable to find the striker a loan move this summer, with Newcastle United reportedly interested. And while it is likely Ferguson prefers the player to move within England, the Premier League is no longer an option until 1 January 2012.

Each of the quartet was selected in United’s UEFA Champions League squad this week, which includes 24 of a possible 25 players on the ‘A’ list. Ferguson added a further 10 to the ‘B’ group, including first team regulars Fábio and Rafael da Silva, and Welbeck. However, with the Scot able to add unlimited ‘homegrown’ under-21 players to his match-day party talented yougsters including Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba could be included at a later date. Homegrown players are those who, regardless of nationality, have been trained by United or another club England for at least three years between the age of 15 and 21.

But inclusion is unlikely to proffer any of the quartet significant match time, relegating Macheda to minor cup competitions and the remainder of the trio to, perhaps, even less than that unless a move away is found. In that there is a significant challenge. After all none of the quartet, bar perhaps Diouf, is a Championship-level player and of the major European leagues only Turkey’s window remains open – until 5 September.

UEFA Champions League Squad

Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Tomasz Kuszczak, Anders Lindegaard, Ben Amos*, Sam Johnstone*

Defenders: Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidić, Fabio*, Rafael*, Sean McGinty*

Midfielders: Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung, Michael Carrick, Nani, Ashley Young, Thomas Cleverley, Darren Fletcher
Antonio Valencia, Darron Gibson, Matty James*, Davide Petrucci*

Forwards: Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernández, Danny Welbeck*, Federico Macheda*, Mame Biram Diouf, Will Keane*

* B List

Kuszczak in emptiest of threats

March 8, 2010 Tags: Shorts No comments

Note to Tomasz Kuszczak: if you lay down an ultimatum, make sure it’s credible. It’s a trap that the Polish stopper has fallen into by demanding more games a week after legendary Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar signed a new contract with Manchester United. Kuszczak, who started the Carling Cup final, has played 14 times for United this season.

“I don’t know how much longer I can stay on the bench. I have waited for four years and I enjoy my time here, but maybe I need to change it.

“I want to stay with Sir Alex because he is a great manager and we will try to find a solution because I am not happy to sit on the bench any more.

“I have always said if I feel I am not developing any more I will have to change something and that moment has arrived.

“I want to win things and I think I’ve proved I am good enough to be No.1 at United.”

Unfortunately for Kuszczak it’s not a view necessarily shared by Sir Alex Ferguson, who is in the market for a new goalkeeper this summer despite van der Sar’s signature.

Kuszczak proves pigs do fly

December 17, 2009 Tags: Opinion 2 comments

After more than four years at Manchester United Tomasz Kuszczak – the Pole In Goal – has finally secured the number one spot in the side, albeit it by default with Edwin van der Sar injured and Ben Foster out of form. But the former West Bromwich Albion ‘keeper’s performances mean the place, for now at least, is on merit.

It has been a slow journey to the top for the Krosno Odrzańskie-born player, who began his career at Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin – just over the border from the town of his birth. But the Pole failed to make the grade at the Olympic Stadium despite remaining on the books for three seasons. Kuszczak even made his international debut in December 2003 before he had appeared as a professional for any club side.

Kuszczak’s time at West Brom, for whom he signed in the summer of 2004, offered the Pole a platform on which to display his undoubted, if inconsistent, talents. Some outstanding performances in the 2005-6 season for the Midlanders earn the 27-year-old a move to Old Trafford, initially on loan.

But prior to the start of this campaign Kuszczak had made just 17 Premier League appearances in three years for the club. In total the Pole has played less than 50 times for United, and fewer than 100 games over his career. It’s a significant experience gap for a player of his age. Something that the 6’3″ stopper is keen to address with the current run in the team.

“I am enjoying playing regularly. Then you can do something with your performance,” said Kuszczak who has kept three clean sheets in a run of six matches in the United side.

“Playing for Manchester United is fantastic. Even when I have had the hard times, when I did not play, that was always my ambition.

“I never started thinking the chance wouldn’t come for me. Now it is my time to play regularly and I want to do it for a long time. I have to play well and keep clean sheets. I have to make as few mistakes as I can.”

“It is difficult to keep clean sheets because the level of the Premier League is so high and we have to keep changing the defence around, It can be confusing but we don’t have enough time to gel – although they played well on Tuesday against Wolves.”

Having started the campaign as United’s third-choice goalkeeper, outstanding saves in away matches to West Ham United and Portsmouth have offered hope that Kuszczak might be a genuine contender for the long-term role as Edwin van der Sar’s successor.

However, few United fans would have predicted the success with which Kuszczak has staked his claim in recent weeks. The Pole’s poor decision-making and ability to give away penalties were a feature of the ‘keeper’s early performances for the club.

Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to hand Ben Foster the gloves at the start of this campaign was supported by most match-goers. Many felt – still do – that the Englishman has more natural talent than his European competitor.

While Kuszczak’s current performances merit a place in the side it seems inconceivable that he will keep the spot in the long-term. van der Sar – if genuinely match-fit – could return to the squad for United’s Premier League away fixture at Fulham this weekend.

As ever Kuszczak’s career may take another twist with Ferguson insisting that he will promote from within should van der Sar hang up his gloves in the summer. Many feel the Scot is pulling off another ruse, however, with German Manuel Neuer odds-on to replace the great Dutchman at Old Trafford.

Kuszczak will hope he has a few more games to prove the doubters wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Poll: who should take United gloves?

December 15, 2009 Tags: , , , Polls No comments

Manchester United take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford tonight and Sir Alex Ferguson has the luxury of three fit goalkeepers to choose from. Edwin van der Sar is now match fit after missing six matches with a knee injury but Tomasz Kuszczak is in superb form and Ben Foster started the season as the Reds’ number one. Who should play tonight?

Who should be United's 'keeper against Wolves?

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Kuszczak launches into van der Sar tirade

November 6, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 3 comments

Tomasz Kuszczak has launched an astonishing attack on fellow goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. In a tirade on MUTV the Polish stopper claimed that van der Sar doesn’t like him and refuses to offer the former West Brom ‘keeper any advice. That Kuszczak has aired his dirty laundry in public will surely anger United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

“To be honest, I must say this and Edwin doesn’t like this too much for sure, but he doesn’t help me too much,” said Kuszczak, who joined the club in summer 2006.

“I have told him a few times already to give me some more advice because he’s got more experience and got many more games under his belt.

“I say, ‘You have to give me something more because I like to know what I do wrong and like to watch other people. Doing that I can take some good from the advice I get.’ But I don’t know, maybe Edwin doesn’t like me. You’ll have to ask him.”

Kuszczak, who has started just 17 games in more than three years at the club, was overlooked in favour of Ben Foster during van der Sar’s injury absence earlier this season.

“I try to do everything to be on the pitch as many times as possible, but I hope in the future the games will come more and more and I will get the chance to play in the biggest games because that’s what I want to do,” Kuszczak said.

“The question is how long do you want to wait? Because I try every day, but it’s a slow process, it’s not so easy. I feel great in the position but I’m not called up and sometimes you think, ‘OK, it’s difficult, you have to wait,’ but the question is how long do I have to wait. I’ve already waited 3½ years.”

“I will wait longer, but my ambition is so big and I want to have a nice feeling after games, be tired and go home and think, ‘Oh, you did a good job.’ Now it’s difficult because I haven’t played too much, especially this season, but I’m hungry to play games.

“Of course, there is competition in the team. I know what I have to do. I have to train hard, be ready and wait for my chance. This is what I do all the time and hopefully my chance will come. I’m still young and have a few years in front of me.

“I am a team player, I like to work with different people and help my team-mates to win the game. I know what it’s about and what I give to this club, even though I do not play regularly. But this is not my fault, I’m prepared.”

Fergie facing up to ‘keeper dilemma

September 24, 2009 Tags: , , Opinion 3 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson is faced with a huge goalkeeping dilemma, which he must solve  come the end of the season. Edwin van der Sar, unsure whether to sign a new one-year contract that would take him into his 40th year, may leave the club, while serious doubts remain over the long-term viability of both Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak. Indeed, such is the looming problem that Ferguson may choose to dip into the transfer market next summer.

van der Sar, who signed from Fulham for around £2 million in 2005, has been on a rolling contract for the past three seasons. Last campaign the legendary Dutchman, who has 130 international caps, signed a new one-year deal in December.

“I’ve said for a few years that it may be my last season,” said van der Sar, whom UEFA named  Club Goalkeeper of the Year last season.

“Six months before my contract with Manchester United ended in December 2006, we extended for one year and so far it has been the same every time.

“I wait each season to see how or where I stand, if everyone is happy and if I can get motivated.

“But I know, because I always get older, it is increasingly likely that this will be my last season. In December, it will be clear how it goes. By then, I’ll have clarity. It is a horrible dilemma.”

van der Sar,  out injured with a broken hand,  will return within a month. With Foster’s form this season unconvincing, many believe that the Dutchman will be straight back in the United side. Indeed, while the Englishman has made some crucial saves – such as those to halt Robin van Persie of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur’s Tom Huddlestone – he has also made mistakes in the same game against Arsenal and Manchester City at the weekend.

Former United legend Peter Schmeichel should know goalkeepers and the giant Dane thinks van der Sar will end up staying at Old Trafford for at least another season. It would be a move that will end Foster’s United career.

“Ben Foster has done well this season and he certainly looks to be a very good goalkeeper. He’s getting a run of games now, but I’m sure Edwin will be back in when he’s fit because the manager knows he’s the right guy for the team at the moment,” said Schmeichel, whose last campaign at United was the 1999 treble season.

“I think Edwin can keep playing for a few more years yet. He’s fit, he’s strong and he’s motivated. Physically, it shouldn’t be a problem for Edwin to carry on and if he wants to, then I’m sure he’ll take that opportunity.”

Schmeichel quit Old Trafford for the warmer climate of Portugal aged just 35 and eventually played on for another four seasons with Sporting, Aston Villa and then Manchester City before retiring.

If van der Sar stays on there will remain serious question marks over the Dutchman’s ability to indefinitely keep up the form of last season, when he kept a clean sheet for record 1,311 minutes in the league. Indeed, the ‘keepers mistake in the Champions League final – beaten at the near post by Samuel Eto’o – was symptomatic of an indifferent end to the campaign.

Meanwhile almost nobody believes that Pole Kuszczak, picked for last night’s Carling Cup win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, will ever be good enough to claim the number one shirt permanently. The question is, after Foster’s gaffe against City, will he be in possession until van der Sar returns?