Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sticking up for Manuel

There is no shortage of speculation at the moment about the goalkeeping situation at the club. Obviously this is not particularly reassuring for the current first choice goalkeeper and he quite rightly is not enjoying the speculation. No doubt Manuel is partly to blame for this situation, his form has been somewhat erratic over the last year. However personally I feel the club's management are also to blame, they have never seemingly supported him and he has been undermined at times, sometimes unfairly I would argue.

Off the field events clearly affected Manuel last season, we were told that a chest infection and a bereavement in the family were behind his prolonged absence. Whatever the reasons, he clearly wasn't particularly fortunate with a series of events. He didn't have a brilliant season last year, but he was by far our best goalkeeper and he was pretty decent. Despite the odd error he did have some truly top notch games, Barcelona at home being one great example. In earlier seasons when he was very consistent, in my opinion he never really got the credit he deserved.

Confidence is vital as a goalkeeper and it is vital that a goalkeeper is backed, even when things are going badly. We saw this weekend how a very good goalkeeper (Reina) can make a shocking error but he will be supported by his manager and team mates alike, this is vital. Being backed by one's manager and knowing you are no 1 is also key in remaining confident.

I don't think Manuel has been helped by the manager at times. For example this pre season it was obvious that Fabianski was being given a chance to replace him as no 1 despite a series of appalling performances. It cannot be good for a goalkeepers confidence to see this happen, it shows a distinct lack of faith from the management which is bound to have a knock on effect on the keeper's performances. This also happened at times last season and this resulted in stupid dropped points when Manuel's deputy was clearly not up to the task.

Maybe Manuel has never been good enough to be a first choice Arsenal keeper. However once he was made no 1 he should be been backed 100% by the management and fans, personally I feel that a lot of people have always seen what they have wanted to see with Manuel. For example last weekend people were trying to blame Manuel for the Ngog goal, I hardly think it is fair to claim that not making one the saves of the season is a goalkeeping error! Actually over the last few seasons he has made very few bad errors, even when his form has been at its worst.

Several other big keepers at the big clubs like Cech, Reina and Van der Saar have been some real howlers, but when this happens they are not undermined, they are supported and this helps the goalkeepers. The fact that Manuel has always had people on his back is part of a vicious cycle of confidence and support which does not help Arsenal Football Club. It is also worth noting that he gets the least help from his defenders of any keeper at a top club, yet for some reason some people like to unfairly dump all our aerial failings at Manuel's door. It is easy to blame Manuel and call him 'nervy', but it is rather obvious that a lack of support from the management is at least as much to blame for this as anything else.

The current speculation cannot be helping Manuel's confidence and this cannot be good for the club. I think the move for Schwarzer is a very strange one, here we have a guy approaching 40 who is arguably no better than Manuel, I agree with Stewart Robson on this one, moving for Schwarzer doesn't make any sense to me. Remember his miskick last season at the Emirates and his calamitous world cup? Robson also makes the point that Shay Given cannot dominate in the air, something that many people like to ignore, for some of us the grass is always greener on the other side, but when we get to the other side they want to move on again.

Overall I think goalkeeping is a very special role in a football team, you have to be a bit binary with the way you manage your goalkeepers because confidence is so key in their performances. Personally I don't think Manuel has ever been given the support he should have been and this has made things harder for him. Maybe things are almost untenable for him now, but if we sign no goalkeeper then we should all get behind him as he is bound to play better with the crowd's full support. I am getting fed up with a lot of the unfair criticism that he has been subjected to of late, it is time to get behind him now.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Both he and Fabianski have had more chances to improve than they would get at any other top four, champions league contending club. They have cost us many points over the last two seasons and are clearly not up to the standard that we need at Arsenal. Enough is enough, we need an international class number one or we will continue to fight for fourth place and quite possibly drop behind
Citeh or even the Yids!! Off you go Almuniarse and Flapianski can bog off as well!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post- supporters that backed the team would help immensely.

1979gooner said...

first anonymous,

almunia has actually cost us very few points, he has been a very decent keeper on the whole

who is the international keeper who is far better than almunia who can domninate aerially that you speak of, as if it is as easy to sign this player as stealing candy from a baby?

the point i was making is that many supporters have never given almunia their support even when he was playing very very well and one of the best keepers in the league

Anonymous said...

Good article, excellent point, I concur.

Anonymous said...

Almunia is the worse goolkeeper we have ever had.
He chucked the Champions league and we would have won the Premiership but for his incompetence.
Get rad and get rid quickly.
Brian D

b.b.k said...

what a rubbish article,talk about sticking up for mediocrity or what.

1979gooner said...

Brian D,

can you back up any of that with any fact or examples?

chucked the champions league??

what utter garbage, he saved us from humiliation against Barca with about six brilliant first half saves!

won the premiership without him?

which season are you referring to here?

the 2008/9 he had a good season

2009/10 he missed big chunks of, so if you're going to blame a keeper, i suggest you look at mannone and fabianksi who made way more bad errors between them

bbk

what do you suggest we do then?

not support our best goalkeeper?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:38

"Almunia is the worse goolkeeper we have ever had."

How fucking old are you, 12?

George Wood, Jim Furnell, to name but two that I would have replaced with bacofoil in a heartbeat.

1979gooner said...

indeed!

Fabianski to name another!

Brian D has a rather short memory

Drew said...

Though I agree with the point that Almunia never really received the support that a Lehman or a Seaman did, I believe it is time for a change between the sticks. The back four are the ones who need to support and trust the keeper, and they obviously don't. You can tell by the hurried clearances and panicked headers when the ball comes in the box; they just don't trust Almunia. He has put in some great performances, (first leg of a Champions League tie against Man United two years ago) but sometimes you have to cut your losses. How many points do you think we lost because of goalkeeping errors last year? 10? 12? The change is more for the outfield players than anything.

Anonymous said...

1979 Gooner, you neglect to mention the 3 crosses that Almunia tried to claim on Sunday but came nowhere near, one of which very nearly led to a goal.

You mention Barcelona as an example of Manuel having a good game and I agree, that half he w3as trememndous but other than Man Utd in the CL a couple of years back, I cannot recall one game where he made a positive difference to us.

The fact is that a great goalie does all the simple things well and also pulls off great saves which aren't expected.

Manuel almost never pulls off a 'great save' and very often does not do the simple things well (i.e. catching crosses, saving shots, organising defense in front of him).

He is a poor goalie and needs out of this club if we are to ever stand a chance of winning a trophy.

Your viewpoint of putting faith in players is admirable, but in this instance, misplaced.

Anonymous said...

I concur with you. No prolem looking for a better option but IS there one out there that is available.........so easy for these armchair fans to say "go get an international stopper".......so name one who is available at a reasonable price or who is even available! You won't find many names on that list. To thos experst out there-Give Arsene a call and give him some of your expert advice on goalkeepers..........twats.

1979gooner said...

anony 1258

the point is that all the great goalkeepers as you say make regular howlers, cech, reina etc all do this

the problem is that people have never backed almunia, even when he was one of the most consistent around and when he made very very few errors

that's why it's rich to slag him off now when he's been undermined and has his confidence smashed by various people who have never got behind him

it's easy to pick apart goalkeepers as even the very best make quite a few errors,

the problem is that he was never backed when he was on top form and playing well, this was not fair to him

if fans are going to be so fickle and so quick to blame a goalkeeper then you will never be satisfied, you can always pick apart a goalkeeper, there are always imperfections,

as I said his position is new pretty much untenable because of the way he has not been supported by the manager and fans alike

i just hope if he is replaced then we give that keeper a chance and support him when he makes his mistakes

if he isn't replaced then we should get behind him, it's the better option, what else do you suggest?

jeffers said...

I agree, sadly some people just want to have someone to slate, especially in the last few years.

We all know almunia will never be the best keeper in the world, but the guy always puts a shift in and does his best. He has been pretty solid if unspectacular and has never shaken off the tag of coming from a crap spanish team and having no top flight experience.

To be fair to the guy I think he has stepped in and done a job since Wenger clearly didn't want to spend any money on a keeper and still doesn't. He is the kind of guy who needs a boost not a slap and I dont think Wenger has not helped him play to his best level, by creating this 'we have 2 number 1 keepers' situation.

worse thing is once he has decided Almunia 'may' not be good enough he drags it into the new season!

Either support the guy you have and give him the number one slot and a decent pre season, or get you arse in gear and sign a replacement. At least he could go out with some dignity and find another club. Now wenger has just turned him into a joke for the less than supportive fans to jump all over.

Anonymous said...

In the Barca game he had a very good 1st half performance, although most of the saves he made (about 10 was it!) were straight at him but he then let himself down by making it easy for Zlatan to score their first. The problem with Fawlty is his decision making has always let him down. He also now very low on confidence. He hasn't been backed by Wenger who seems to see something in Flappy no one else does. He knows he only started against L'pool because Flappy embarressed himself in Warsaw.
We need a top class replacement but instead we're getting a cheap one (surprise surprise) but hopefully Swartzer will be more commanding in the box and give the defence more confidence.

Anonymous said...

One of very, very few rational takes on our goalkeeping position. If we can get a better keeper than Almunia we should do. We should be ready to replace any player, whoever he is, if someone better becomes available to us. But we should be clear on whether they really are any better and aware that there are very few around genuinely available to us. Shwarzer and Given are both poorer keepers than Manuel. In the community shield game at the weekend VDS miskicked to a Chelsea player in the 7th minute, flapped despairingly at a cross in the 70th minute and parried a shot straight out to Kalou for him to score. Any one of those errors would have some of our supporters frothing at the mouth if Almunia had committed them - they all passed without comment when VDS screwed up. I've also yet to see anyone take the ball off Almunia's toes and score as Reyes once did to VDS. Most keepers make similar mistakes in most games but they only get picked up if results don't go your way. Take the PL Actim points for the top ten keepers last season and divide them by the number of games played to give an average points per game and Almunia ranks 3rd for the season. In truth he's no more than a decent keeper but one that neurotic hysteria can compel us to replace with a less decent one.

1979gooner said...

anon 1321

quite agree, people see what they want to and some people have always looked for error in manuel, even when he has been outstanding

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with this post; it's exactly what I've been saying for ages. Almunia is certainly not the best AFC keeper ever, but he's far from the worst either. I have to say that I think Fabianski deserves that particular award (and Furnell and Webster [late '60s understudy to Bob Wilson]) weren't much better). He was very reliable in his first two seasons as Arsenal's number 1, and I can't think of a single point he cost us then. And there have been some big games from him; to the two that have already been mentioned by others (ManU and Barca in the ECL) I'd add Fenerbahce away in the ECL and Sheff Utd in the FAC 2005; I'm sure most have forgotten the latter but he pulled off a blinding last minute of normal time save to keep the scores level and then won us the tie in the penalty shootout; since we went on to win the cup that year, you might argue he was instrumental in winning us a trophy. But few seem ready to give Almunia any credit for anything.

Last season was a lot more up and down, though, admittedly. Time to replace him? Well, sure, if there's a better alternative available - but who would that be? I see that one website has suddenly decided that Arsenal are after Lloris for £18m on the basis of absolutely no hard information at all. Forget it - it ain't gonna happen.

Is Schwarzer really an improvement? Hmmm. Or Given? As a shot-stopper perhaps, but as a dominant aerial goalie, I'm not so sure.

Arsenal fan said...

While he had a World Cup to forget (well, didn't help the Aussie defense were poor against Germany), you have to admit he had a good season with Fulham. Aren't you as guility as the Arsenal fans who pick on Alumnia when you summed up Schwarzer's season with Fulham with that mistake he made against us at the Emirates?

While, I think Almunia is a very good shotstopper but when it comes to set pieces and positioning, I think Schwarzer is the better goalkeepers since he's more commanding in set pieces and does not hurt he's 6'5". Yes, he probably has 2-3 years left but he's being offer a goalkeeping coaching role as well, so Wenger will be going to him for advice when it comes to buying/training GKs. We have to admit when it comes to choosing/developing GKs, Wenger isn't the best compared to buying/developing attacking players. After Schwarzer retires, Szczesny should be ready to take over unless he turns into another Fabianski. And let's pray he won't.

Still, I don't want Almunia to leave. I would like him to be our number 2 keeper, mainly because I don't trust Fabianski to put in a decent display anymore.

Anonymous said...

Whilst having some sympathy for him, I think any lack of confidence is down to him knowing that his slips have cost points. I'm sorry but at the top you have to the mental strength to quickly recover from adversities. All keepers make the odd mistake, but the great ones don't let it get them down.

tbwttihs14 said...

I'm pleased to finally read a rational opinion on the goalkeeping situation and a fair few rational comments too.

Almunia is never as bad as he's been portrayed. I think it's also too easy to blame Wenger for not replacing him. I've asked this question to many contributors this summer but - Who is available that is better?

I would like a match winning keeper but I don't see many around. What point is there in ordering Wenger to spend £15m if no keeper of that value exists. Just paying over the odds like City do wont make a player worth that amount. Schwarzer, Given, Lloris, Stekelenburg, Marchetti etc are all good but all have weak spots themselves.

This leads on to a wider point that when you are at our level it is never easy to find players to improve your squad and, if they aren't going to do that, there's no point in buying in the first place.

It's all part of a worrying problem with lots of internet Gooners who seem to think slagging the players and the boss is ever going to help.

Sam said...

As much as i appreciate you trying to bring a reasonable take on the treatment of almunia, you're just wrong. Arsenal fans did back him when he  was playing well, despite what you say. But he's never been a world class keeper and so has never been treated as one. 
The fact is that he is not good enough for the level he is playing at and we shouldnt continue to take risks by playing him on the hope that he'll rediscover his form. We gave him chances last season which he failed to take.
Wenger has been notably ruthless with goalkeepers historically and i think thats served us well. When seaman started to flounder, he got replaced. Same thing with lehmann. Keepers like richard wright, rami shaban and manninger were all shafted without remorse. 
It may seem harsh but thats how keepers are treated.  Its merely a hazard of the profession. Its also harsh that almunia is often blamed for what are glaring defensive errors (eg barcelona at the emirates last year, where song was absolutely nowhere to be found) but hes paying for such a poor run of form in that respect.
You cannot point to mistakes by reina, van der sar etc and compare to almunia. Those are great keepers who have shown themselves to be season after season. Almunia is not and has not. He also has made far more fuck ups than either.

However, i saw that same interview and i too am sceptical over whether given or shwarzer represent a real improvement. I'd be happy with given were it not for the size of our team to start with and our failures from set pieces. Wenger is right to get rid of almunia, and though i usually hate when idiot gooners list off world class players theyd like to see at he club with no consideration of price or availability, to me, it would unquestionably be worth paying over the odds for a player like lloris, who could steady us at the back for a decade potentially, or buffon, who has another 3/4 decent years left in him and could then be replaced by schezehowdyouspellit. 
I usually have a lot of patience for wengers prudence, but not in this case. We need a great keeper to replace almunia, although i know we wont get one.

1979gooner said...

Sam,

Almunia has been treated poorly this pre season and this has been foolish given that we still have not signed a new no 1. I think this is undeniable.

Maybe he isn't good enough and he didn't have a great season lasy season.

However he would be better served if he were supported by the management while he is the best keeper at our club and frankly that isn't happening/hasn't happened.

It's fine to be ruthless if you actually bring someone in and ship someone out, but this hasn't been done, he's been stupidly ruthless of late, Wenger should have got rid of Fabianski as well

Anonymous said...

So when is the right time to criticize a keeper? Should we stay completely complacent based on the errors and lack of quality.

I think the main point is that the majority of us really do see the potential for this season and there is a massive stretched hole between the sticks.

I agree that if Almunia is playing he should have all the support during the game but until the end of the transfer window, there should be the proper pressure to sign a new keeper.

In response to the supprt of our number one, I think Wenger has done nothing but this throughout, in support of the management.

Anonymous said...

Posted this elsewhere but seems appropriate;

Bentley 40 yards
Danny Rose 40 yards
Ronaldo 40 yards
Barcelona away (5 shots, 4 goals nowhere near any)
Spurs home (4 shots, 4 goals, nowhere near any)
Champions League final (2 goals through his legs)
ManUtd 2005 (chipped by John O'Shea.....yes John O'Shea)
Birmingham away 2009 (throws ball in FOR NO REASON in 91st minute ending our title campaign)

I mean I could go on?

I cannot believe ANYONE defends Almunia on any level. How many more points are we going to drop as this guy concedes shots Cech, Van Der Saar, Given, Reina, Hart and even Gomes would routinely save? It's not the massive errors, it's the borderline ones like Ngog on Sunday that he ALWAYS let's in.

It's not that Schwarzer is especially great, it's merely that he's competent.

Anonymous said...

A goal keeper at a big club like Arsenal have to accept competition. Jen was our no1 keeper the manager was giving chance to Almunia to proove his worth. The bottom line is if the manager doesnt give any chance to a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th keeper to play, he'llnever know what the guy is capable of. Almunia got his chances, in my opinions, more than he deserves and he blew it. The club cannot continue to babysit all the time. Move on.

1979gooner said...

anon 1449

the vast majority of your examples are very poor,

the bentley are ronaldo efforts were brilliant goals

the barca away goals, what a crap example, what was he meant to do about messi then?

champions league final, another bad example, they weren't goalkeeping mistakes!

the rose goal and the birmingham goal were mistakes, albeit slightly freakish ones

if that's all you can come up with then you're making a case for the defence of almunia yourself

your argument is weak and inconsistent because you then claim 'schwarzer to be competent', this is while you destroy almunia

have you seen any of schwarzer's recent glaring mistakes?

i haven't watched him week in week out but he made that horrendous error against us last year and he made at least a couple of howlers at the world cup

so yes I will defend Almunia on this level, he cannot be blamed for most of the goals you list, he is a very decent goalkeeper who had a below par season last year

Sam said...

You say the management hasnt given him adequate support but wenger made him captain at anfield and then praises him for a good performance, despite the fact he made only one decent save all match, while also flapping horribly at a cross and letting in a goal that perhaps he should have done better with (it was a bullet but the distance between his hand and the near post was pretty ridiculous. ngog was almost definitely not going to score far post from there, so youve got to ask questions).

Like i said, i think he catches too muck flak from the fans. The goals he let in against barca were largely defensive mishaps, and he got unnecessary criticism for the birmingham equalizer, that nani cross at the emirates, piennars goal and a few others, but lets face it when was the laat time the guy put in a really good shift other than first half against barca at the emirates.
They had a stat on football365 a while ago which i forget but showes that he had the worst shots-to-saves ratio in the premiership or something along those lines.
I do think hes made a target because of fans dissatisfaction with the goalkeepin and defensive situation with the club as a whole, but if anything that suggests wenger has given him too many chances.
He is the best keeper at the club, yes... But he's also arguably one of the worst in the premiership and he has to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

1979 Gooner

I admit it's a bit flippant but I'm trying to emphasize that this guy is a choker, he's not top level. I do count both goals in Champions League final a goalkeeping errors from the angle he was beaten twice, however he was subbed on in that game. I believe is incompetent, he will never dominate the situation in a one one one like a top keeper does. The Messi evening Messi could have had 20 one on ones and scored 20 goals. Seems like a nice guy but not a winner, I've had enough of being rational about such a glaring definciency in our team.

1979gooner said...

Sam,

I disagree, the pre season management of the goalkeepers was poor. Essentially wenger wanted to play Fabianski but his performances deselected himself, I really don't think this helped Almunia. The speculation about a new keeper can't help either. The situation is now virtually untenable because he has been undermined so much, we are almost obliged to buy someone even if they are no better, just because at least they won't have had their confidence shot to pieces.

There's no way he's one of the worst keepers in the Prem, I'm sorry but that's just not the case, he's easily in the top half of keepers. Have you watched people like Robinson, Foster, Green regularly? They are very dodgy indeed and make way way more errors.

The stats are very useless when it comes to keepers, if you look at % of shots saved then often a lot of the lower teams' keepers come out highest, it's very hard to work out how good a keeper is from the opta stats, they are very misleading, schmeichel once came out 13th on the stats for one example of their lack of reliability!

here's a table from a few years back:

1 Cech Chelsea 83.3%
2 Kiraly Crystal Palace 82.9%
3 Carroll Manchester United 80.0%
4 Taylor Birmingham City 78.4%
5 Sorensen Aston Villa 78.3%
6 James Manchester City 77.6%
7 Dudek Liverpool 75.0%
8 Hislop Portsmouth 75.0%
9 Martyn Everton 74.4%
10 Niemi Southampton 72.0%
11 Green Norwich City 71.2%
12 Schwarzer Middlesbrough 69.8%
13 Jaaskelainen Bolton Wanderers 69.8%
14 Speroni Crystal Palace 69.0%
15 Friedel Blackburn Rovers 64.9%
16 Robinson Tottenham Hotspur 64.4%
17 Van der Sar Fulham 64.2%
18 Kiely Charlton Athletic 63.8%
19 Lehmann Arsenal 63.0%
20 Given Newcastle United 62.1%
21 Hoult West Bromwich Albion 60.3%
22 Howard Manchester United 58.3%
23 Kirkland Liverpool 50.0%

the stats are bullsh*t, kiraly at no2! that says it all

1979gooner said...

Anon,

I see what you're saying and agree (to a degree).

But....

Is Schwarzer the answer? Or even Given for that matter?

It's probably immaterial now as Almunia has been so undermined confidence wise that he almost has to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

Good Article.
Amen.

rahul

Sam said...

Fair play with the stats, i see your point. Like i say i cant remember what the stat was exactly, but maybe it was an unreliable indicator.

What was wenger meant to do though? He obviously wanted to play fabianski as first choice this season and was testing the waters (which is what preseason is for... When else are you going to do it? The champions league?) fabianski failed to perform so he reinstalled almunia.

Obviously he got it wrong with fabianski, and accepted the mistake by bringing back almunia. What else do you suggest he should have done though? Just play almunia even though he preferred to test fabianski and possibly start him in the premiership? Avoid giving another keeper a chance to prove himself because it might hurt almunias feelings? I mean friendlies are EXACTLY where second choice keepers should get their chance. If they fail then you stick with your first choice. Thats exactly what happened.
I really dont get what more you expect wenger to have done. No it probably didnt benefit almunias confidence, but what no one else should get a chance so as to spare manuel the blushes?

As for easily a top 10 keeper, i completely disagree

Vds
Cech
Given
Hart
Pepe reina
Gomes
Friedel
Jaaskelainen
Howard
Schwarzer
Sorenson

Thats off my head and theres a few keepers i barely know, but id even be tempted to add rob green to that list, although you obviously disagree.

Almunia failed to perform. To not give othersa chance to prove themselves (especially in a non-competitive setting) would be unfair on them... To not bring in another keeper to offer competition because it might dent almunias confidence hurts the club. A good goalkeeper should thrive under competition not buckle to it. If they do the latter then they shoul have huge question marks placed over them.

Of course he speculation isnt nice, but wenger cant control the media and nor can he club. In any case, a professional should be able to cope with it. If hes asked about buying a keeper he says something completelg general and non-comittal like "we are looking at a number of players". what do you suggest he do? Just say "no were sticking with almunia" while hes actually looking to bring someone in?
Or indeed just keep almunia as first choice until he starts to retire, because that sounds like the option your moving towards?

Sam said...

Fair play with the stats, i see your point. Like i say i cant remember what the stat was exactly, but maybe it was an unreliable indicator.

What was wenger meant to do though? He obviously wanted to play fabianski as first choice this season and was testing the waters (which is what preseason is for... When else are you going to do it? The champions league?) fabianski failed to perform so he reinstalled almunia.

Obviously he got it wrong with fabianski, and accepted the mistake by bringing back almunia. What else do you suggest he should have done though? Just play almunia even though he preferred to test fabianski and possibly start him in the premiership? Avoid giving another keeper a chance to prove himself because it might hurt almunias feelings? I mean friendlies are EXACTLY where second choice keepers should get their chance. If they fail then you stick with your first choice. Thats exactly what happened.
I really dont get what more you expect wenger to have done. No it probably didnt benefit almunias confidence, but what no one else should get a chance so as to spare manuel the blushes?

As for easily a top 10 keeper, i completely disagree

Vds
Cech
Given
Hart
Pepe reina
Gomes
Friedel
Jaaskelainen
Howard
Schwarzer
Sorenson

Thats off my head and theres a few keepers i barely know, but id even be tempted to add rob green to that list, although you obviously disagree.

Almunia failed to perform. To not give othersa chance to prove themselves (especially in a non-competitive setting) would be unfair on them... To not bring in another keeper to offer competition because it might dent almunias confidence hurts the club. A good goalkeeper should thrive under competition not buckle to it. If they do the latter then they shoul have huge question marks placed over them.

Of course he speculation isnt nice, but wenger cant control the media and nor can he club. In any case, a professional should be able to cope with it. If hes asked about buying a keeper he says something completelg general and non-comittal like "we are looking at a number of players". what do you suggest he do? Just say "no were sticking with almunia" while hes actually looking to bring someone in?
Or indeed just keep almunia as first choice until he starts to retire, because that sounds like the option your moving towards?

Sam said...

Fair play with the stats, i see your point. Like i say i cant remember what the stat was exactly, but maybe it was an unreliable indicator.

What was wenger meant to do though? He obviously wanted to play fabianski as first choice this season and was testing the waters (which is what preseason is for... When else are you going to do it? The champions league?) fabianski failed to perform so he reinstalled almunia.

Obviously he got it wrong with fabianski, and accepted the mistake by bringing back almunia. What else do you suggest he should have done though? Just play almunia even though he preferred to test fabianski and possibly start him in the premiership? Avoid giving another keeper a chance to prove himself because it might hurt almunias feelings? I mean friendlies are EXACTLY where second choice keepers should get their chance. If they fail then you stick with your first choice. Thats exactly what happened.
I really dont get what more you expect wenger to have done. No it probably didnt benefit almunias confidence, but what no one else should get a chance so as to spare manuel the blushes?

As for easily a top 10 keeper, i completely disagree

Vds
Cech
Given
Hart
Pepe reina
Gomes
Friedel
Jaaskelainen
Howard
Schwarzer
Sorenson

Thats off my head and theres a few keepers i barely know, but id even be tempted to add rob green to that list, although you obviously disagree.

Almunia failed to perform. To not give othersa chance to prove themselves (especially in a non-competitive setting) would be unfair on them... To not bring in another keeper to offer competition because it might dent almunias confidence hurts the club. A good goalkeeper should thrive under competition not buckle to it. If they do the latter then they shoul have huge question marks placed over them.

Of course he speculation isnt nice, but wenger cant control the media and nor can he club. In any case, a professional should be able to cope with it. If hes asked about buying a keeper he says something completelg general and non-comittal like "we are looking at a number of players". what do you suggest he do? Just say "no were sticking with almunia" while hes actually looking to bring someone in?
Or indeed just keep almunia as first choice until he starts to retire, because that sounds like the option your moving towards?

Sam said...

Oops sorry about the reposts

1979gooner said...

He should have used Almunia more in pre season so it wasn't as obvious that he wanted to push Fabianski into the no 1 slot. That way he would have felt more established as the no 1 which must be a positive for him. He hardly used him in pre season and this really undermined his position and confidence in my eyes.

Vds - yes
Cech - yes
Given - debatable
Hart - yes
Pepe reina - yes
Gomes - on last season only
Friedel - yes
Jaaskelainen - no way
Howard - no
Schwarzer - no
Sorenson - no way

If you have watched Jask/Sorensen/Schwarzer they have made way more errors, it's just you get away with it at a small club. Gomes has one decent season but is very fallible from crosses, Given is also very dodgy from crosses.

The only keepers who I would say are definitely superior these five: VDS, Cech, Reina, Hart and Freidel.

He easily makes the top 10.

Anonymous said...

if alumnia can stop free kicks against the likes of drogba like he did against gerrad in sunday's match i think he should stay. i dont even know how u guys conclude that shwazer is better. alumnia is doing all that he can. it is not easy being at that goal post. what we dont need is fabianski. Mannone should take over from him or better still schzney

jeffers said...

i recall Fabianski getting his chance towards the end of last season and was plainly awful. if wenger was still considering replacing almunia with him for this season i can see why almunia is questioning himself and the situation. it seems clear that he is not in wengers plans, but wenger has wasted time in replacing him with this misguided look at fabianski and cheapskate attempt at a replacement.

1979gooner said...

ps Sam

Wenger came out and said he had no numebr 1!

Hardly a good way to instill confidence is it!

Sam said...

Alright theres no point arguing about the keepers, because we obviously feel differently.
But i cant see any sense in what youre saying about fabianski playing in preseason?
You say wenger should hve made it less obvious he wanted to start fabianski? What does that achieve when the season starts and he starts playing fabianski? Surely thats even worse for almunia who thought he was going to be first choice and gets completely taken by surprise?

And if almunia got more time in preseason perhaps the fact that fabianskis issues had not been resolved would not have come to light, which would have in fact had the effect of making wenger more likely to start him in the premiership.

Im sorry but i think youre being ridiculously pedantic about this. Almunia is a professional footballer at the top level, playing for a top club. He should be able to deal with preseason competition from an understudy keeper, bottom line. If he cant then hes mentally weak. If the other keeper is better then hes not good enough.

If wenger had been going on in the press about signing a new keeper then yes id agree with you. But hes mentioned very quietly once or twice that he is looking into it, but theres nothing definite and he has faith in our current crop so not finding a new keeper would not be a disaster.

You cant ask anything more of him than that.
Wenger is one of he best man-managers in the league. He does not treat players like redknap treated bent. He does not kick boots at his players and you're not going to find anyone other than complete runts like ashley cole saying anything bad about him.

Sam said...

So what he said theres no number 1? That was the truth. We are agreed that he was testing fabianski to possibly be number 1? So what do you want wenger to do, come out and say almunias no 1, when really hes not sure and possibly leaning towards fabianski? Thats just stupid and completely counterproductive if what youre concerned about is protecting almunias confidence.


Dont get me wrong, i think wenger was mistaken in testing fabianski at all. But imo thats because he should have brought in a new keeper to start with and because fabianski is shite.
However, given that wenger does have more faith than me in fabianski and did believe he could be no1, he could not have handled it any better.

There are a lot of things i disagree with wenger on, particularly his failure to bring in a world class keeper, his insistence on buying centre backz who are excellent on the ball rather than big bastards (with the exception of sol) who can deal with an increasingly physical premiership and his general (dis)organisation of the defence.

But i cannot criticise him on how he deals with the players he has. Imo hes the best in the world at that. Almunia has showed countless times hes not good enough for this level. He should already be no2 to a better keeper, so pandering to his confidence issues now is just babying him. He is not a child but a man in a competitive professional environment. If he cant deal with that unfortunately thats entirely his problem.

1979gooner said...

Sam,

I completely disagree.

Fabianski is poor and iot was obvious from his woeful performances last year that he was not good enough.

In this context Wenger had to keep Almunia as our no 1 until someone else came in, it has only undermined Almunia to not keep him as our no 1.

Like him or not, he is clearly the best goalkeeper at the club at the moment and he should have been treated as such.

I'm not being pedantic, I'm just pointing out what I see as a rather significant management error by Arsene. He has not managed things well goalkeeper wise.

Ted said...

I think a lot of the comments above are excellent. Its amazing to see that there are still some rational Arsenal fans who realise that Almunia is a perfectly decent keeper, just not perfect.

Its a mystery to be how some team's keepers almost always take a battering.

The great David Seaman was always tagged by Nayim and Ronaldo's freak goals.

Lehman was mad, but was truly excellent at times, yet the press only played on his eccentrics.

Almunia occassionally puts in performances of the very highest standard and is certainly no worse than Schwarzer, who has been average for years at Boro and Fulham. I am amazed to see us linked with him.

And I think 1979 is basically correct about Wenger's management of Almunia. AW should either back him or sack him. This non-existent middle ground is good for no one.

Anonymous said...

In the Champions League final one goal would not even have gone in without Almunia's help.
In the 4-4 draw with Spurs the shots for their goals with follow ups must have aggregated about a mile in distance.
Against Spurs away last year a decent fullback would have headed their first goal away in Almunia's position.
He wouldn't get in e decent Sunday morning side.
Get rid.

Anonymous said...

Great article.
agree.

rahul