Liverpool’s 3-2 win at Ewood Park saw a number of unusual occurrences. Firstly, Liverpool won. Secondly, Andy Carroll actually put the ball in that net thing he seems so scared of. And finally, after Pepe Reina’s suspension, we saw a rare outing for not one of Liverpool’s reserve goalkeepers, but TWO. After Alexander Doni, making just his second Premiership appearance, was sent off for a challenge on Junior Hoilett, Brad Jones replaced him to make his Premier League debut, despite signing for the club in 2010.Doni and Jones are good examples of keepers who sit there, collecting their pay packet, whilst not over-stretching themselves. Occasionally they have to bend over and pull the splinters out of their backsides, but life isn’t altogether too taxing. Anyone fancy a bit of first team football anywhere else? Don’t all coming rushing at once…
Here’s the Top 10 Back-Up (And Lazy) Goalkeepers:
- Steve Harper – Steve Harper has been at Newcastle United 16 years and is currently the club’s longest serving player. So why has he only made 150 appearances for the club? Well, 12 years of that was spent as backup to Shay Given and another two as Tim Krul’s reserve. Harper came perilously close to breaking into the Newcastle first team on a couple of occasions, once in 1999 when Ruud Gullit bizarrely preferred him to Shay Given and picked him for the FA Cup Final (maybe why Gullit lost his job that summer), and then when Given left to join Manchester City. Unfortunately after winning the Championship with Steve in goal, everyone at St James’s Park realised Harper was never that good after all and Alan Pardewinstalled Tim Krul as his new number one on arrival at the club. Back to the bench then Steve.
- Carlo Cudicini – The case of Carlo Cudicini is rather bizarre. When he first moved to England, he was one of the best stoppers in the division, catching the eye for the best part of four seasons at Stamford Bridge. However, Jose Mourinhodecided to bring Petr Cech to the club and the rest as they say, is history. Inexplicably though, rather than find a new club, which Cudicini was perfectly capable of, he chose to stay and admire Cech’s skills between the posts as his teammates racked up a number of trophies. Finally in 2009, Carlo decided to improve his ambitions and try playing more than two games a season. The club he chose? Tottenham, where Heurelho Gomes was firmly installed as first choice… There’s a reason why the Daily Telegraph named him the ‘world’s most un-ambitious footballer’ in 2008.
- Stuart Taylor –Taylor began his career as a promising young shot stopper at Arsenal, where he was tipped for big things by the coaching staff. However, he only made 18 league appearances for the Gunners between 1997 and 2005 and left to join Aston Villa to further his career. Unfortunately, they only saw him as a number two as well, meaning Taylor got to sit on a bench to watch a different side, but one with less quality. Bored of sitting on the bench at Villa, he moved to be left out of the squad completely at Manchester City. Just to put things in perspective, here are a list of the goalkeepers that Taylor hassat behind during his career: David Seaman, Alex Manninger, Richard Wright, Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia, ThomasSorensen, Scott Carson, Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan, Tom Heaton, Shay Given, Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon. That’s some impressive numbers.
- Tony Warner – Warner has a special place on this list, because he isn’t just the goalkeeper who sits on his own club’s bench, but the goalkeeper who is loaned out to sit on other club’s benches when they suffer an injury crisis between the posts. Starting his career at Liverpool, he never made an appearance there but did join three other clubs on loan. He managed 200 career appearances for Millwall, but the life of Warner the goalkeeping nomad began when he joined Fulham. After that move, Tony has seen action at nine different clubs, some on loan, some on a temporary contract, but barely any at Fulham. Wonder if he can fit in the rest of the Football League before he retires.
- Tomasz Kuszczak – No one can quite believe the Pole has been at Manchester United since 2006, initially joining on loanfrom West Brom after impressing Sir Alex Ferguson. During this time, Kuszczak has won three Premiership titles, receiving ‘special dispensation’ for all of them, given that he didn’t make the required ten appearances in a season for a medal. That would be because he’s only played 26 league games for United, struggling to dispose of Edwin Van Der Sar between the posts. The penny finally dropped for Tomasz this year, when Fergie brought in David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard to replace the retired Dutch legend. He has subsequently joined Watford on loan and will be released at the end of the season.
- Mike Pollitt – Any Wigan supporters (apparently they exist?), might remember a certain Mike Pollitt playing between the posts during their first season in the Premier League. 23 appearances during that debut year was a decent return for a man who spent his entire career outside the highest division. It wasn’t to last though, indeed Pollitt has played just 13 more games for the Latics in the six years that have followed. Now 40, he still gives Ali Al-Habsi encouraging support from the touchline and in fact is probably the only person in the ground who sits and watches every game.
- Jerzy Dudek – Dudek was a Liverpool stalwart for a number of years and made himself a hero in Istanbul after that penalty shootout. However, there was no room for sentiment from manager Rafa Benitez, who signed Pepe Reina and made Dudeksit on the bench at Anfield for two years. He decided to move on, but unfortunately Dudek resigned to himself to a career of putting out the warm up cones after signing for Real Madrid. Behind Iker Casillas, the world's best goalkeeper. Two appearances followed, but at least Dudek could say he’d played at the Bernabeu.
- Brad Guzan – Aston Villa signed the talented American for £2million from Chivas USA back in 2008 to compete with fellow compatriot Brad Friedel for the number one jersey. Unfortunately, this was a battle Guzan was never likely to win; indeed Friedel is one of the Premiership’s all time greats. So onto the bench he goes for four years, making just eight appearances for the Villa, watching on as Friedel and then Shay Given this year, attempt to repair the damage caused by Villa’s often woeful defence. To make matters worse, Guzan is also number two for his country, behind Everton’s Tim Howard in the pecking order for the USA.
- Manuel Almunia – Despite enjoying a run of three years as the Gunners' number one, the Spaniard finds himself in a familiar position this season. Watching someone else play in goal. Having joined the club in 2004 from Celta Vigo, Almuniastruggled to fight his way past Jens Lehmann, both on and off the field as the pair struggled to get along. After finally displacing the German, Almunia has then produced a series of blunderous performances that had Arsene Wenger tearing his hair out and the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny has, once again, relegated Almunia to the bench.
- Carl Ikeme – Ikeme progressed through the Wolves academy and first found himself on the bench when the side reached the promised land in the 2003/04 season, providing backup to regular Matt Murray. Ikeme must have enjoyed that bench at Molineux, as he’s spent a fair bit of time on it, behind Murray and then Wayne Hennessey. Eight spells out on loan has only brought him 57 appearances and he has only played 13 times for Wolves themselves. The arrival of another sub-keeper, Dorus De Vries, has meant Ikeme has been farmed out to Doncaster this year as his beloved spot on the bench is taken for the time being.