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Reader’s Corner: What should be done about Sunderland’s goalkeeping problem?

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RR reader Lee Armstrong believes Burge and Matthews simply aren’t up to the task of being Sunderland’s number one. Is it time to look to youth?

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Ever since I supported Sunderland in 1995 we have, 90 per cent of the time, been blessed with a top/good goalkeeper if not keepers.

Number ones such as Sorensen, Poom, Gordon, Mignolet, Pickford and, most recently, Jon McLaughlin. Number twos such as Macho, Myhre, Fulop (R.I.P), Westwood, Pantilimon and Mannone (the latter two both did splendid jobs as number ones, as well).

Unfortunately, they have been occasions where we have had some keepers who were that bad, we may as well have been playing with ten men.

Sunderland Training Session
It’s the stuff of nightmares
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Goalkeepers such as Kelvin Davis, Lee Camp, Jason Steele, Robbin Ruiter (still astonishes me that we had the three of them in the same season) and recently Lee Burge and Remi Matthews who, in my opinion, challenges Camp as the worst I’ve seen.

The current goalkeeper situation worries the hell out of me because no matter who’s in goal at the moment I never feel confident watching them.

It’s an old cliché that a good goalkeeper can win you 10 to 15 points a season, but it’s true. The Chronicle wrote an article regarding the 17/18 season, which said that errors made by goalkeepers that season cost Sunderland a total of 31 points – which would have seen us finish joint 10th instead of bottom.

Which is why I hope we don’t make the same mistakes as we did in the 17/18 season this time around.

Hartlepool v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly
Max wasn’t given a chance. Will Patterson suffer the same fate?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In 17/18, supporters were crying out for Max Stryjek to be given an opportunity in between the sticks but for some reason, the management team at the time chose to persistently stick with either Steele, Camp or Ruiter, expecting one of them to become good.

And look where it has got us.

This is why this season we need to give Anthony Patterson a chance between the sticks.

We have kept 11 clean sheets this season, but I think that speaks more about the defence in front of Burge and Matthews than it does their own individual performances.

Barring Lincoln away (Burge’s two saves at 0-0) I can’t think of a game this season where the keeper has produced a performance that won us points.

Which is why it’s important to give Patto a chance – because he’s the only one who looks actually competent in between the sticks.

Sunderland Training Session
Cometh the hour...
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The games he’s played he hasn’t put a foot wrong and in all honesty Burge, who would be a half-decent back up for game or two, and Matthews, who’s been a shambles since day one, aren’t gonna get any better anytime soon.

The defence lacks confidence with either in goal, and it leads to the panicky defending we see at times.

Add these together, and it will ultimately see us fail in our goals this season.

As the saying goes, a confident, good goalkeeper breeds confidence in the defence in front of him. And I know that if I was Bailey Wright I’d be constantly looking over my shoulder at the guy between the sticks knowing he just isn’t good enough.