Paul Robinson will be on his way from Blackburn

It’s a new era that nobody really wanted at Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton. Shaka looks at what the future may hold for the 1st choice goalkeepers of the three teams heading down to the Championship

Paul Robinson – likely to leave Ewood Park

When a team go down, it’s like a shipwreck on the rocks. It doesn’t take long before the scavengers descend looking to grab what they can. But I get the feeling there won’t be too much of a clamour for the goalkeepers that were part the teams that went down. That’s not to say they’re not Premier League standard goalkeepers, but for the most part, the teams in the top flight have their starting goalkeepers in order and there aren’t many who’ll desperately be looking for an upgrade.

Wayne Hennessey’s season ended with injury to add to the insult of relegation, but I think he’ll probably still be at Wolves when he recovers. He’s a good young keeper, but I suspect the teams in the Premier League are well represented with starting goalkeepers and he hasn’t done enough to overtake any of the current first choices. If he goes, it’ll be most likely as back-up and I think he’d rather stay at Wolves than spend the season warming the bench somewhere.

Paul Robinson is a different story, mainly because he’s at a very different stage in his career. He’s 33 later this year and he needs to be playing regularly. I’m not sure too many of the current Premier League teams will be after him as a first choice, but the teams coming up from the Championship may see his experience as being attractive for next season.

He’s a had a strange career. He was a highly rated young keeper for a long time, but he’s never quite delivered on his potential. I think he’ll leave Blackburn, but I’ve no idea of the destination. He has worked with Sam Allardyce in the past, but would he be a big improvement on Robert Green? There’s not much between the two in my opinion. He’d provide decent back-up and competition in most Premier League squads, but it’s hard to know who’ll actually make the move.

I can’t see anyone taking a gamble on Adam Bogdan. I’d imagine he’ll being staying put with Bolton. He had a tricky start to his run of games in this season’s Premier League, but responded very well. He’s a good goalkeeper, but again the question is ‘who is desperately in need of a goalie?’ and the answer is no-one in the Premier League. Maybe a Premier League team will look at him as a back-up, but I can’t see too many teams rushing to sign him up. A season of playing regularly in the Championship could actually be perfect for his development, so maybe he shouldn’t be looking to move on.

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2011/12 Premier League Goalkeeper Preview: Blackburn



1st Team Squad Goalkeepers: Paul Robinson, Mark Bunn

Overview: I have little doubt that the form of Paul Robinson last season had a major influence on a couple of England eligible goalkeepers distancing themselves from the national squad. For whatever reason, not having to worry about international duty has worked wonders for Robinson and he was largely excellent last season. Without him, Rovers would have been relegated and the club would be in real turmoil with some of their exciting young players leaving for Premier League football. This season we’ll see if the absence of international duty help to return Robinson to his best or if it was merely a coincidence timed with turning his back on Capello’s calls. It was something of a surprise that they let Frank Fielding go to Derby, but with Robinson looking so impressive, the England U21 keeper probably didn’t fancy his chances of getting the starting berth in the foreseeable future. In reserve, Rovers have the services of Mark Bunn. He’s spent a couple of seasons out on loan, but after Jason Brown was released at the end of his contract, the 26 year old will be called up should Robinson be unavailable. He’s shown plenty of potential, but as yet he hasn’t had an extended run in the team. He could be perfectly capable of performing to the required level, but we simply haven’t seen much of him in the Premier League. With Rovers likely to have another tough campaign on their hands, fingers will be crossed that Robinson keeps a clean bill of health and the need for Bunn is minimal.

Worst case scenario: Robinson can’t maintain the huge improvements of last season and mistakes start to creep back into his game. With the inexperienced Bunn on the bench, Steve Kean persists with Robinson, but his confidence is shot and he makes several costly errors.

Most likely outcome: Robinson was so consistent over the last season that I suspect his improvement is permanent. He will continue to play well with the occasional mistake interspersed into his displays, but overall he will earn his team a substantial number of points.

The Spurs Goalkeeper Hunt Begins

With Gomes having dropped his team in it once too often, it would be a big surprise not to see him leave White Hart Lane over the summer. Here’s a look at some of the candidates in the frame to replace him.

Ben Foster - Tottenham Goalkeeper?
Ben Foster
‘Your career in Hollywood is over’ is what comes to mind when summarising Foster’s career at Old Trafford. Having been hyped through the roof for his performances on loan at Watford, when it came to the big stage, Foster seemed to have too much on his plate and his seemed to blow his audition. At any stage in a player’s career the United job is one that comes with pressure, expectation and unimaginable levels of scrutiny. Having been shown the door at Old Trafford, you would have doubted if Foster would ever be considered for one of the league’s bigger teams, but the rehabilitation of his reputation at Birmingham has gone so well that he must feature on the wish-list for sides aspiring for league titles and Champions League places. With England duty off the agenda for the time being he’s an even more attractive prospect and if he continues to improve his consistency, could solve Spurs’ goalkeeping problems for the guts of the next decade.

Shay Given - Spurs Goalkeeper?
Shay Given
With Harry’s reputation for finding a bargain, it’s virtually impossible to imagine that Given is not on his radar. After finding out that the two way ‘competition’ for the goalkeeping duties at Man City was in fact a closed shop in favour of Joe Hart, the Irishman must surely be desperate to leave. Considering his age and increasing proneness to injury, it’s a slight risk, but the outlay for Tottenham should be minimal and it’s a move that could pay off handsomely. Prior to being unfairly being assigned to bench-warming duties at City, Given was playing very well. With the exception of international football and the odd Europa League outing, this season has been one of inactivity for Given and it remains to be seen if he can recapture his form. There’s no reason to think he won’t, but age catches up with all of us and the last 12 months my have aged him more than we’ve anticipated. He’s still a risk worth taking and Harry’s no stranger to taking a gamble.

Scott Loach - Tottenham Goalkeeper?
Scott Loach
The national side’s struggles to find a reliable goalkeeper has thrust Loach into the conscious of the typical football fan earlier than if probably fair on him. There’s no doubting his natural ability, but at the age of 22, asking him to step up to one of the Premier League’s most high pressure jobs will test his temperament almost more than his talent. He still needs room to make mistakes and build up experience. Having made around 150 first team appearances, that attitude may come across as overly cautious, but I’ve lost count of the number of young English goalkeepers who are exposed to the glare of a particularly savage sports media prematurely and never fully regain their confidence. Playing game is one way of gaining experience, but playing under the weight of expectation and pressure is still something he hasn’t been exposed to too often. Counting against a move is the unwritten rule of the ‘premium’ attached to signing young English players. As much as he rails against his wheeler dealer reputation, Harry has a fondness for pulling one out of the bag and the money Redknapp will be asked to pay for Loach may a little too close to his real market value for Harry’s liking. At some stage, Loach will get his chance to step up into the top rung of goalkeepers, but this summer may be too soon to be making that move.

Diego Lopez
Diego Lopez
Replacing Gomes with Lopez would be a bold move. Lopez is good enough to start for the vast majority of top international sides, but such is the depth of talent within the Spanish goalkeeping ranks, he’s roughly 4th or 5th choice. It’s more than lazy journalism to make the comparison between Gomes and Lopez. Both are tall, bulky men blessed with seemingly physically impossible agility. They’re capable of getting across the goal in an instant, but there is a lingering doubt about his handling. To be fair to Lopez, his handling may be perfectly fine, but he doesn’t tend to use it a lot and when I have seen it in action, it’s been on the jittery side of assured. When given the chance, he’ll parry or punch and although that’s not necessarily a problem, it doesn’t tend to go down well with certain fans and ill-informed pundits in the media. Sadly they go a long way to dictating public opinion and on the back of Gomes, Spurs will need someone who’s more obviously convincing. It’s as unfair as it is geographically inaccurate, but also counting against him will be the fact he’ll get lumped into the same ‘continental’ category that’s associated with Gomes. He doesn’t suffer from the same frequency of ‘rush of blood to the head’ moments that afflicts Gomes, but it has happened on occasion. He won’t come cheap and Harry may decide to give him a skip.

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
A quick look at their squad list tells you Tottenham have few problems with welcoming back former players. ‘Once you leave, you always go back’ seems to be the mantra amongst those departing the club. The Robinson that Spurs would be getting now is a much improved version of the one they let go in 2008. The stats from his time at White Hart Lane don’t make pretty reading, but in his defence he was playing behind a defence with an almost comic disdain for defending set pieces. Since retiring from international duty at the start of the season, Robinson has concentrated on his club duties with tremendous results. He always had natural agility in his locker, but made mistakes due to a lack of focus. For whatever reason (I’d suggest an absence of fatigue), turning his back on England duty has improved his reliability. The frequency of mistakes has decreased and his handling is tidier than ever. Plus, he looks like he’s enjoying himself. From Tottenham’s purely selfish point of view, a Blackburn relegation and an Ewood Park firesale wouldn’t his hurt availability.

The Best Premier League Goalkeepers 2010-11

MOG Premier League Awards
It’s awards season and in the absence of any goalkeepers actually making the PFA Player of the Year or Young Player of the Year shortlists, here’s a look at the best performing goalkeepers of the season. It’s not exactly a list of the most talented goalkeepers, but rather the ones who have consistently performed to the best of their abilities. I haven’t ranked them, but here’s my shortlist.

Van der Sar
Even with retirement approaching, Van der Sar remains one of the league’s best

Ali Al-Habsi
Not even his mum could call Al-Habsi the complete goalkeeper, but he has been extremely effective for Wigan this season. At his best he is an excellent shot-stopper capable of hurling his sizeable frame across the goal with stunning agility and were it not for some vital saves, his team would be further adrift at the bottom of the table rather than one win away from safety. He has been one of the best performers in Roberto Martinez’s squad and was vital in taking a crucial six points from Wolves in two games this season and holding Liverpool to two draws. His handling is suspect, he regularly makes mistakes and his technique isn’t pretty, but he gets the job done and right now that’s all that matters to Wigan. Regardless of Wigan’s fate come the final day of the season, the Omani has almost certainly done enough to ensure he’ll be a fixture in the Premier League for some years to come.

Paul Robinson
Unhappy with being overlooked for England, this season saw the Blackburn goalkeeper make himself unavailable for international duty and his club have reaped the benefits. Like a spurned lover trying to show an ex what they’re missing out on, the perceived insult from Capello has been the driving force behind arguably the best season of his career. This term, Robinson has shown the focus that has often been lacking in his career. He has always been capable, but inconsistent. The disconnect between his natural ability and his concentration meant his career hit something of a glass ceiling when it came to progressing to one of the Premier League’s top teams, but this seen his sense of injustice has been a motivating factor is some excellent displays. If a player needs to have a chip on his shoulder to bring out his very best form, it does raise wider questions about the earlier part of his career, but we’ll blissfully ignore that because this season Robinson has been a joy to watch.

Edwin van der Sar
It may initially seem like a choice motivated entirely by sentiment, but in his final season as a player van der Sar has been the difference between Man Utd being champions elect and scrambling around for a Champions League spot. This is by no means a vintage Man Utd team, but van der Sar’s contributions at vital times have been crucial in smoothing the path to three points. His big saves have earned United points that their actual performances didn’t merit and although he hasn’t been perfect (such as against West Brom at Old Trafford) his attitude is always exceptional and he has brought a big net gain to United overall. He doesn’t let errors get to him and blips remain blips rather than diffusing into a prolonged slump in form. Despite his advanced years, van der Sar is still one of the world’s best. It’s been said many times before, but that doesn’t make it any less true – the Dutchman is leaving some huge boots to fill.

Honourable mentions
Ben Foster who has made some remarkable saves this season, culminating in a superb sowing in the Carling Cup Final. Pepe Reina – without him Liverpool could genuinely be in a relegation dogfight. Petr Cech – who started the season brilliantly to mask Chelsea’s shortcomings before the finger in the dyke become insufficient to plug the leaky defence in front of him. Robert Green – still someway short of the league’s finest, but he has shown character and resilience to bounce back from the low of World Cup 2010. Tim Howard has made some amazing saves for Everton, but he throws in too many clangers to truly be considered amongst the very best in the league this season.