Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Tuesday May 22 2012
Arsenal have announced that they have released seven professionals from their books this summer, headed up by former first choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia. The Spanish custodian joins George Brislen-Hall, Gavin Hoyte, Rhys Murphy and Sean McDermott whilst scholars James Campbell and Jeffrey Monakana are also released.
Gavin Hoyte was out of contract having taken countless loan spells, culminating in an underwhelming time at AFC Wimbledon. Murphy had unsuccessful trials at Middlesbrough and Glasgow Rangers last summer before joining Preston on loan. Sean McDermott finished the season at Leeds having not played a game.
It was widely expected Almunia would be released having seen out the last year of his deal. Almunia featured on the Arsenal bench twice without playing a single minute following a disastrous last couple of appearances at the end of 2010-11 against Blackburn and West Brom.
Almunia's stock and confidence fell to such a point that he spent the end of the season training with the U-18s. Personally, I hope Almunia can restart his career somewhere else. He was a good deputy for a while I felt but was never quite up to being number 1. Whilst his incompetence was massively overstated in my opinion, I think Manuel would be fine at a club that keeps him busier during matches.
His best performances for the club came when he was peppered with shots- in Champions League ties at Old Trafford and the Nou Camp. He was also something of a penalty specialist, achieving a better save ratio than David Seaman. However, lapses in concetration and a lack of decisiveness often cost him as he couldn't quite deal with the periods of inaction being an Arsenal goalkeeper. He also seemed to struggle with the scrutiny.
Mistakes are highlighted much more when you play in goal for an Arsenal or a Manchester United. Not to pick on Tim Howard in particular, but if you got a video reel of goals Everton have conceded in the last 2 years, you'll see many a Howard clusterf*ck. But Almunia's reputation took a beating as he was probably a midtable goalkeeper in a team that aspired to titles. But ultimately, Almunia didn't pick himself in goal. The bell seemed to toll for him around 2 years ago when his mother in law died tragically in a car crash, which then begat a period out of the side. A fact often skated over.
In any case, I wish him well and hope he can restart his career elsewhere with a clean slate. LD.
Date:Tuesday May 22 2012
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