Replacing Reina a bad move



Since Jose ‘Pepe’ Reina’s arrival from Villarreal in 2005 he has made the goalkeeping position one of the few stable areas of a Liverpool side experiencing a turbulent period. Until now that is. Following several high profile errors against Hearts and Arsenal amongst others the Spanish stoppers position as the clubs number one (yes, I know he wears 23) has come into question with reports linking him with a £10 million move to Arsenal. Liverpool are supposedly thinking of replacing their current man with either Birmingham City’s Jack Butland or former Manchester United trainee and Hannover number one Ron Ronald-Ziegler whilst both Ali Al Habsi and Michel Vorm have been linked with the club in the past.

 If Brendan Rodgers really does decide that he doesn’t fancy Reina and swoops for one of those mentioned it will be a ludicrous decision. Of course Ziegler and Butland at 23 and 19 respectively both represent a considerably younger model than Reina however the Birmigham City youngster has played just 20 times for the championship team with his only other experience coming at league two Chelthenam Town and five games with team GB at the Olympics whilst Ziegler has played 56 times for the Hannover first team following a youth career at United and Northampton Town where he barely featured.

If either were being scouted as a cheap, young back-up to Reina, happy to sit on the bench for several seasons learning from his experience then the rumours may make more sense but we know none of this is the case. Both would command hefty fees of over £10 million pounds which is £10 million that Liverpool simply cannot afford to splash on a reserve keeper, meaning Reina would have to go to free up funds for either move. Furthermore it is difficult to imagine Butland or Ziegler, who surely both have eyes on the national number one spot, being willing to play second fiddle to anyone at such a crucial stage in their careers.

So the only real option is to replace Reina, presumably at a loss. Although the former Villarreal man has made a few dodgy blunders this season he is still a top quality premiership goalkeeper and in reality has had a remarkable level of consistency during his time at Anfield. His shot stopping is, on the whole, first rate and his distribution, supposedly crucial to Brendan Rodgers passing from the back style of football, is certainly one of the best in the league. Replacing the experienced Reina with either youngster is a gamble that Rodgers and Liverpool cannot afford and do not need to make at this stage in their season. Veterans like Mark Schwarzer and Brad Friedel have shown us that good, consistent goalkeepers can carry on performing at a high standard well into their thirties and Reina has always had good levels of fitness which should allow him to carry on at the top for another decade.

The other candidates for the Anfield nets appear to be Swansea’s Vorm (although is suspect this is a case of 2+2 reporting due to Rodgers preference for former players) or Wigan’s Al Habsi. Both options appear to make even less sense than the younger proposals as although they do have top flight experience it is nowhere near as much as Reina’s whilst all three are practically the same age (Vorm is one year younger at 29), it would be a signing for today, not tomorrow. Al Habsi has made been guilty of even worse cock-ups than Reina this year with an embarrassing concession against Reading being followed by a shaky performance against Newcastle. Vorm is currently injured so it is impossible to judge his form but it does beg the question, why would the Reds take a risk on a player with a history of injury when they already have a consistent keeper on the books.

 Hopefully Reina’s return to form continues and these rumours can be put to bed, Liverpool have plenty of other areas of their squad to concern themselves with, most notably the complete lack of strikers available for the game at West Ham this Sunday. 

Jack Johnson