Another week, another goalkeeping mistake.
Exactly how we managed to bring in a trio of goalkeepers across the last seven months that are seemingly unable to play a full 90 minutes without making a colossal mistake to cost us a goal really is unbelievable.
With Simon Grayson failing to decide on a definite number one due to the inconsistency of both Jason Steele and Dutchman Robbin Ruiter, new boss Chris Coleman immediately earmarked the goalkeeping position as a “must improve”, which linked us to the likes of experienced Championship stoppers such as Andy Lonergan and Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
That chase ended with the deadline day loan signing of Cardiff’s back-up ‘keeper Lee Camp. The 33-year-old Northern Irish international was meant to be the experienced head brought in to finally give Sunderland a recognised, reliable Championship ‘keeper in goal. After all, he’d spent considerable time as number one at this level forba number of clubs that include Derby County, Queens Park Rangers, Nottingham Forest and Rotherham United - all with a decent degree of success.
Sadly, the former Forest man has been anything but reliable, leaking eleven goals in his first five games, with a good percentage of those coming from his own errors. In the space of a week, he literally dropped into the ball in the back of the net to gift Bolton Wanderers an opener in a crucial six pointer before his hesitation to come for the ball against Middlesbrough caused him to give away the most obvious of penalties, in-turn handing them the chance to take the lead from the spot only minutes after they had grabbed an equaliser.
When you need the defence to stay strong and hold up under pressure, he simply seems no better than Steele or Ruiter - and perhaps even worse.
Seriously though, just how many goals have we conceded this term due to goalkeeping howlers?
Perhaps it’s time to give Warsaw native Max Stryjek his chance? As shown with Joel Asoro, there’s certainly a case for blooding the youth players to breathe fresh life into the team - and dear God does our defence need a competent goalkeeper.
At 21-year-old, he’s no longer a teenager but is very much a baby in goalkeeping years so it is indeed risk, but the longer these mistakes keep being made by our senior ‘keepers, the more he must be wondering what he needs to do to be given an opportunity.
The Polish stopper has been at the Academy of Light for four years now and signed a new deal back in 2016 that takes him up till the end of 2019.
There’s been talk that the club are very much hopeful he can have a similar impact to Jordan Pickford’s last year and really make that number one spot his own in the coming years. If that’s the case, why not blood him now and give him a show of confidence? If you’re good enough, you’re old enough - and there’s only one way to found out.
Following a similar path to the Everton keeper, he joined Boston United back in 2015 and did well. However, he was unfortunate to suffer an injury only nine minutes into his debut on loan at Accrington Stanley this term - but his loan to the League Two promotion chasers is evidence that he is surely ready to move into senior football. Without that injury, he’d have been embroiled in a promotion race that the Lancashire club look likely to win.
During pre-season, he was also given forty five minutes in games at St. Johnstone and Livingston - keeping a clean sheet in both. In both outings, he was commanding, confident and vocal. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but on such a tight budget signing Jason Steele for £500k when Stryjek had shown himself to be - at least - adequate back-up was very much a faux pas.
It would be delving into the unknown ever so slightly, and yes perhaps it’s asking a lot of a youngster to change the course of the season by simply throwing him in and expecting him to be better than what we’ve seen from the three clowns who’ve played so far this term, but I bet it’s a chance Max would relish.
And if the performances of Joel Asoro, Josh Maja and Ethan Robson are anything to go by, the hard-working attitudes and lack of fear in this group of youngsters may just be what is needed in the team, and indeed between the sticks.