With Mark Bunn dislodging Brad Guzan from the Aston Villa first team, Guzan found himself on FA Cup duty last night, which I’m sure was a further dent to his ego. The American will also not be happy to learn that we are apparently closing in on Croatian giant Lovre Kalinić from Hajduk Split. Garde certainly did not deny it after the Wycombe victory.
It has been apparent for a while that we have needed a new goalkeeper. Guzan has regressed over the last few years, in my opinion. He fully deserved his player of the year award in 2012-13; I’ll never forget his two outstanding saves from Christopher Samba in a relegation three-pointer against Queens Park Rangers at Villa Park in March 2013. Since that season, those game-changing saves have disappeared. Errors at first creeped in but this season, and probably last, the errors outweighed the good that Guzan was doing. The American was affecting games – and not in the way I would want a goalkeeper to.
Mark Bunn came in for the last two League games and it’s no coincidence that the defenders looked far more assured without worrying about what Guzan was going to do behind them. Like it or not, he has been a contributor to our downfall.
Bunn has done little wrong so far and his penlty save only boosted the early love in for the former Blackburn Rovers man. I think Bunn is a decent keeper, certainly good enough to be a number two for us long term, although I’m not sure that he has what’s required to be a number one even if we go down to the Championship, which, despite our recent improvement, is looking more than likely.
As one of our longest-serving players, I used to have an affection for Guzan. However, his performances, coupled with what I am speculating is a bad attitude, have led to me being happy to see him out of the line-up. He needed taking out of the firing line: there were the mistakes then the supposed swearing at Villa fans but the thing that has disappointed me the most is probably trivial to some. As Mark Bunn has done all season, the substitute goalkeeper is in goal for the shooting practice in the warm up. Guzan has made literally no attempt to move in this drill in our last two League games, only saving shots if they are straight at him. This tells me that he thinks he is above being dropped and it certainly doesn’t portray a man who has previously spoken of the “goalkeepers’ union”. I think it highlights the lack of respect certain players at the club have. Guzan can have no complaints about being dropped, none at all.
So what of the potential new man? I confess to not knowing much about Lovre Kalinić other than he is six foot seven and that he has played twice for the Croation national team. At twenty-five, he is relatively young for a goalkeeper, hopefully young enough that if we do go down he will give us a season or two to return to the Premier League. The worry with us signing players in our position is that they will only come in this window to put themselves in the shop window. I believe Garde is looking long term irrespective of which league we end up in for 2016-17. Kalinić, I imagine, will be being eyed up as someone who will stay with us should we be relegated.
After so long as our number one, Guzan could now find himself as a number three. Long term, I think he will move home and play Major League Soccer. I salute your service, Guzan, but, unfortunately, like a few others, you are no longer up to it. Rémi Garde is starting to stamp his authority on the side, which is exactly the kind of strong move needed. The manager seems to have upset some but, in the main, it seems to be the players the fans feel have been letting the club down.