Sunderland’s latest defeat at the hands of Queen’s Park Rangers came off the back of yet another calamitous goalkeeping performance, this time from former Middlesbrough stopper Jason Steele.
The £500k summer signing has given more than a handful of horrendous performances this season, with many Sunderland supporters suggesting that he is arguably the worst goalkeeper that has ever played for our club - and I’d be inclined to agree.
Certainly in my lifetime I’d struggle to name someone that has put in more horrible performances - all of which have come in the second tier - than Jason Steele.
The mistake which led to his red card yesterday was an innocent one, but it’s perhaps a moment that about sums up Steele’s time with the club - he’s just not good enough.
His replacement, Lee Camp, has also struggled tremendously and though he’s been here only five weeks he’s hardly covered himself in glory. There’s a very good reason that he lost his place to Steele in the first place, and his presence on the field fills neither the players or the supporters with any confidence whatsoever.
In their shadow is the untested Poland U21 international Max Stryjek, who is the only goalkeeper yet to be given an opportunity to prove his worth by Chris Coleman.
It’s interesting, because throughout his tenure as manager so far we’ve seen the former Wales boss hand countless opportunities to young players, many of whom have proven themselves as capable and committed.
With the club anchored to the bottom of the table it’s arguably the worst time to throw in an untested player, but you have to ask - when is a good time?
We simply cannot keep persisting with the same failures that have shown time after time that they just aren’t up to the task. Lee Camp won’t be a Sunderland player in the summer and we already know that he’s not good enough. Max Stryjek, however, will be here ahead of next season, and he’s still waiting patiently to be given a chance to prove himself.
So, what is there to lose? I think that the Sunderland supporters have already shown that, despite our rotten form, they’ll willingly give our academy products leeway provided they show that they want to be here and are giving it their all.
Stryjek will have nothing to worry about and, if anything, the supporters will get right behind him as they take pride in seeing an academy graduate step out onto the field and fulfill their dream of playing for the first team.
Having moved to Sunderland five years ago from his native Poland, Stryjek has worked and worked every single day in order to prove himself and will undoubtedly relish the opportunity to show what he can do - it’s just a case of whether Chris Coleman is prepared to stick his neck out and give a chance to yet another inexperienced youngster.
The fact remains that Lee Camp and Jason Steele just aren’t good enough and in the case of the former, the experience he was brought in to show just hasn’t shone through.
In the absence of Robbin Ruiter we must take a step back and look at what we’ve got.
Stryjek is waiting in the wings and whilst the atmosphere around the Stadium of Light is indeed apathetic, those that do turn out to watch the lads next week will love nothing more than showing their support for a young stopper looking to make a name for himself.