So I just found out that if I sign up for an o2 monthly line rental I can get a free Arsenal shirt. It’s a little unexpected but in a good way. I also just found out that James Shea, our fifth choice 19 year old goalkeeper, has been called up by England. Not the under 19’s, that wouldn’t be surprising. Nor the under-21’s, that would be reasonable. But by the England senior squad. That’s unexpected in a bad way.
David Stockdale, the young Fulham goalkeeper, picked up an injury and Fabio Capello need to pick somebody else as cover. Fair enough. Only is there really nobody else apart from our fifth choice 19 year old goalkeeper? The England squad is training at London Colney and it makes me suspicious that Capello just decided to call up whichever professional goalkeeper resides closest. According to the forums young James Shea isn’t even that exceptional. He was originally the regular starter for our under 16’s and then signed scholarship papers. Upon turning professional he featured for our under 18’s but didn’t exactly blow the world away. Capello might have promised to rejuvenate the senior England squad and introduce fresher blood but this isn’t the right procedure, surely. Joe Hart will naturally start and Shea will probably not get anywhere close to the bench. I can’t see who this will benefit?
More pertinently I am a little dismayed by the misrepresentation. His call up will suggest that Arsenal have an abundance of good young goalkeepers and are merely waiting for one of them to step up and make the first team position their own. It’s a cute way of explaining away the common thought that Arsenal needed to sign a goalkeeper. This way it looks like we did the altruistic thing and opted against a near biblical age Mark Schwarzer in favour of a young goalkeeper who just needs a chance. It’s just not really the case though. We didn’t sign Schwarzer because we wouldn’t meet Fulham’s asking price. That much is apparent because our interest was not to be denied, it was acknowledged on both sides. As much spin as some might wish to put on it there was no other reason. Lukasz Fabianski and Vitto Mannone both obviously aren’t ready for the first team yet, their mistakes and hesitancy when offered the opportunity are testament to that. Wojciech Szczesny is quite clearly the most talented of the group but he is not mature enough, which is a fair call for such a young guy.
As it stands, however, we will play the season with the same goalkeeper who has frustrated the fans so many times in the last few seasons. Even when Almunia is fantastic, as he was in the opening half against Barcelona at the Emirates, it ends up counting for little. Not only is he ‘consistently inconsistent’ but he is unlucky to boot. We should have bought another goalkeeper, don’t let Capello’s call for young James Shea fool you. England’s third choice goalkeeper on Saturday will mean very little to us this season.