Not a Patch On 2004/05 Review pt 1

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As a football website it’s fairly obligatory for us to knock out some kind of season review.  Being lazy gets it’s probably going to be one that’s spread all across the summer.  There’ll be other bits to follow (probably, maybe, if we get round to it) but we’ll start off with the players that took the biggest step that the club has ever taken (at least since 1978).  Looking at it there’s more of them than I thought, so they’ll have to be split up and as always the best place to start is at the being or to use a football cliché, we’ll build the squad from the back.  For Latics, that means with probably the most underused part of the team, the goalkeepers.

John Filan
A bad goalkeeper can make a defence look shoddy.  A shoddy defence will make an average keeper look great.  Over recent seasons we’ve been privileged enough to have both a good keeper and defence.  That in itself brings problems because you can never quite be sure how good either of them is.  The big Aussie has given us some outstanding performances in his time at the club, but he’s never really had it that hard.  It’s difficult to see our back four being as assured next season and, just like Blackburn’s recent managers, I’m not convinced that the big Aussie is our man for the premier league. That said; he’s the best we’ve got, and well worth his contract extension.

Gary Walsh.
All I can really tell you about him is that he went to my school (a few years before me) and played for Manchester United and Bradford.  An experienced head but not having seen him keep goal since he joined us I couldn’t tell you if he’s still got it.  I’m guessing that his one year contract is as much about ensuring we have at least two keepers and I’m sure he’ll be playing a part in the coaching set up.

The verdict?  Well Filan deserves his plaudits as one of the top keepers outside of the top flight but even so he’ll need some back up next season.  Walsh has a good past but hasn’t had much football for a while now and the best you can say is that we don’t know what he’s capable of.  We’ve looked at a good young keeper in John Ruddy earlier this year, losing out to Everton, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jewell and co are looking for someone similar again this summer, a keeper with ability but for the future rather than a straight replacement.

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