Much of the talk around where Boro should strengthen this summer has centred around the outfield positions:
‘We need a new centre back for when Big Ben bows out’
‘More creativity to replace the repugnant Ramirez’
‘Our wingers are unproven, erratic and in short supply’
These are all valid points of course but during the course of these debates I can’t help but notice the elephant in the room. And it’s wearing great big elephant sized goalkeeper gloves.
As things stand, Boro will have three keepers on the books as we start the season. Mejias has left Boro fans (and perhaps himself) mentally scarred, despite the odd decent performance in the cups when the pressure was off.
Connor Ripley, despite by all accounts having a stellar campaign in League 1 for Oldham, is untested at this level and would represent a gamble if he were to start.
A candidate for no. 2 yes, but not yet ready to be Boro’s no. 1.
— Oldham Athletic AFC (@OfficialOAFC) May 17, 2017
Then there’s everybody’s favourite culinary and keeping star Dimi. We need to talk about Dimi.
During last season’s keeper problems, clamour grew amongst Boro fans for Dimi to start. Valdez’s shaky start and acrimonious exit coupled with Bad Brad Goujons crazy legs meant that a return to the team for the man who played a key role in the promotion season seemed inevitable.
However, both Karanka and Agnew resisted the urge to recall Dimi. Now it’s not often I agree with dumb and dumber, but I share their concerns about Dimi.
Despite his commendable late career renaissance and some excellent performances for Boro, Dimi always seems to have an error in him.
The playoff final when beaten at his near post and the error in the Bamford knee slide game at home to Ipswich are just two examples. It’s true that all keepers have an error in them and these tend to be magnified due to the nature of their position on the pitch.
But whilst not inducing anxiety of Mejias proportions, Dimi’s ricks tend to occur slightly too often for me to be comfortable. Add in that he is now 38 and that he won’t be anywhere near as protected as he was in the Karankanncio era, and such errors could play a big part in what is likely to be another closely fought Championship campaign.
An upgrade in the goalkeeping position should surely be Monk’s first priority. If for nothing other than provided some competition for the Greek stopper.
In the early part of my life as a Boro fan, the goalkeeping position was never in question.
The Pears dynasty was succeeded by the reign of Schwarzer (with a thankfully brief Miller/Walsh/Roberts interlude). Since the amicable Aussie departed, a litany of pretenders to his crown have tried and failed to establish a new era of Boro goalkeeping dominance.
From Steele to Turnbull, Coyne to Given, two bad Brad’s to a Champions League winner, none have made the no. 1 shirt their own.
Now is the time for a new keeping king to claim the gloves and assert their dominance. Who? I’m not sure, but I am sure that they aren’t currently on the books. Over to you Gibson, Bausor and Monk.