West Ham have a crisis on their hands. With the season’s ambitious goals all but slipping away, there needs to be a massive decision made ahead of the Tottenham match – who starts in goal for the Hammers?
As of the time of this blog’s construction, nothing has been settled when it comes to who is starting in goal for West Ham. The smart money is on Roberto. Yes, the very same keeper who punched a ball back into his own goal. Manuel Pellegrini seems to have an ego problem, however, and would likely rather get burned on “his” player than give up on him, even if it’s the correct decision.
Should Pellegrini abandon his failing keeper there are two names in-house to circle: David Martin and Joseph Anang. While both are keeper options for the club, the two couldn’t be farther apart when it comes to career paths.
David Martin was a strategic signing this summer, rather than a football signing. With Adrian determined to leave West Ham for first-team football and/or high wages, Roberto and Martin signed as a tandem to replace the Spanish fan-favorite. With Roberto the defacto backup, Martin helped in reducing the wage bill and added another English player to the team quota.
With Roberto failing with his opportunity to replace Lukasz Fabianski, is it time for Martin to step up? Common sense would say yes, but hold on. Claret and Hugh published conflicting reports with supposed insider information suggesting initially that Martin was in-line to start against Tottenham, then recanted stating “ClaretandHugh understands the son of legendary defender Alvin Martin was offered a contract aimed at making him what is known in the game as a ‘training ground’ keeper and a first-team call up would be a shock.”
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With Martin sitting on the bench behind Roberto for the past month, common sense would again suggest this isn’t the most accurate news. If there was no faith in Martin to get into a game, why sign him at all and why allow him to sit on the bench to potentially get into a game should injury strike the keeper position again? The report doesn’t make sense, and neither does the idea of Martin being a “shock” to start.
The 33-year-old keeper played in Millwall’s ten matches of last season, putting up a 2-4-4 record including four clean sheets in that stretch of games. This suggests that Martin, who is the same age as Roberto, is still able to play at a competitive level, plus his play-time eclipses Roberto’s six Copa Del Ray matches scattered across a three month period.
If it isn’t going to be Martin replacing Roberto then look to academy prospect Joseph Anang. The man handed the wheel for Nathan Trott who left for a loan move to Wimbledon has had an extremely strong season for West Ham’s U23s, putting up a 10-0-1 record in all competitions, allowing just 11 PL2 goals against and keeping four clean sheets.
Yes, he is 19-years-old and yes, the PL2 is not comparable to the Premier League at all, but when signed as a 17-year-old his scouting report read that Anang is a “tall and well-built goalkeeper with quite a robust physicality for someone his age. He uses his physique well to deal with aerial balls in and around the six-yard box and shows good command in the area.”
Does this not sound like exactly what West Ham needs? Fabianski is big, quick off his line, and a great communicator. He commands his area and outlets the ball verbally before physically making plays. Anang is seemingly cut from the same cloth, and the Hammers desperately need a keeper who can step up with this mentality.
It’s a fairly extreme longshot that Anang gets the gloves ahead of a massive matchup against Tottenham this coming match week, however, David Martin or he would be a welcomed surprise to the starting XI. Simply put, Roberto cannot be the keeper to replace Fabianski, especially with better options in our own system going unused. Try ’em out and see what they are, there is nothing to lose on dropping Roberto.