As the Premier League reaches its mid-twenties, forty-nine different clubs have graced its wealthy ranks and treated us, if that’s the word, to their share of goalkeeping gaffes.
Let’s take a look of five of the worst; from the obscure to the poor there are rich pickings to be had in this list.
Roy Carroll – Manchester United and West Ham
The Ulsterman became another strange example of Sir Alex Ferguson’s struggles to sign good goalkeepers in the aftermath of Manchester United‘s 1999 treble season and the departure of legendary ‘keeper Peter Schmeichel. A hefty sum of £2.5 million was paid in 2001 for Wigan’s goalkeeper, as he joined the ranks to provide initial cover for Fabian Bartez and later Tim Howard. Sadly for the Northern Ireland International, he never looked comfortable under the formidable pressure of keeping goal at Old Trafford.
Poor judgement and erratic handling dogged his top flight career, as he struggled for game time in the Premier League. Despite this, he still somehow contrived to make one of the all time gaffes that never was.
Late on in a game against Spurs, Pedro Medes (remember him?) tried an audacious chip with Carroll bizarrely way out of his goal, as he struggled to peddle back and make a routine save, he slapped at the ball and it went through his hands to creep over the line. The ‘keeper though was able to fall back and scoop the ball clear before it could hit the net. Cue bedlam, confusion and…play on as neither the ref, nor his assistants judged the ball had crossed the line. Carroll had dodged a bullet, but was subsequently dropped and forever synonymous with the blunder.
Fraser Digby – Swindon
Sorry Swindon fans but one hundred goals conceded is one hundred goals conceded however you spin it. Town legend Digby reached his career high of playing as a number one in the Premier League with his adopted club when Swindon Town reached the Promised Land in 1993.
Despite making over four hundred appearances for The Robins and being widely considered their best ‘keeper, the Yorkshire man was their number one as they suffered a miserable debut, and to date, only campaign in the top flight.
Digby was a solid lower league ‘keeper and looked it as he was brutally exposed to the likes of Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. It is telling that he lost his place for a time that season as the goals flooded past him. His club got just eighteen points and he remained in the lower leagues for the remainder of his career.
Stephen Bywater – West Ham and Derby County
Similar to Digby, Bywater cannot escape this list, as he significantly contributed to worst ever Premier League side; Derby Country in 2007/08. The former England under 21 ‘keeper played just six times in the top flight for West Ham before making a move to Derby County in 2006.
Upon their brief return Bywater stated his belief that he could push for an England place with game time in the top flight. By December he had shipped the best part of forty goals in eighteen games and looked hopeless for The Rams. Rooted to the bottom and bereft of quality, Bywater was replaced by the man at number five on this list. He left by the back door to join Ipswich in the Championship, which was probably his level.
Adam Bogdan – Bolton and Liverpool
A signing which proved just how muddled Brendan Rodgers ended up in his final days as Liverpool manager. Hungarian Bogdan was apparently signed as backup for Mingolet, after impressing Rodgers in a cup game the previous season whilst at Bolton. By the time he made his Premier League debut Brendan had gone and Klopp was still trying to figure out who was useable. Bogdan wasn’t.
His debut proved a calamity as he fumbled an early cross against Watford, to allow Nathan Ake the simplest of tap-ins. His handling was poor, he never looked convincing or comfortable at such a big club. In fact plenty of Wigan fans labelled him responsible for their relegation from the Championship in 2017,despite playing less than twenty games whilst on loan there. His Premier League record is poor as well, with an incredible fifty one goals conceded in just twenty-six matches. Not quite a Mighty Magyar.
Massimo Taibi – Manchester United
Who else but the Italian? The ‘keeper became infamous for one of the all time Premier League howlers, as he failed to establish himself as Schmeichel’s heir. Signed in favour of nineties legend Francesco Toldo, the former Venezia ‘keeper was brought to Old Trafford on the glowing recommendation of Sir Alex’s brother Martin.
A Man of the Match display was awarded to him on his debut to Liverpool despite an error from a routine cross. He followed this up a few weeks later with a hideous blunder at Old Trafford in a 3-3 draw with Southampton. Matt Le Tissier scuffed a tame effort straight at the Italian’s hefty frame, but as Tiabi tried to scoop the ball up he somehow let it squirm under him and creep over the line to the bemusement of all.
Bizarrely he blamed his studs, but at that time a former Italian restaurant owner from Manchester had been hired to do the ‘keepers translation and deliver touchline instructions, so who knows what was going on. Despite the error, Ferguson still tried with Tiabi, but a five-nil drubbing at Chelsea was enough and his career was aborted before he could do anymore damage. A truly surreal and crazy chapter in the Manchester United’s rich history was brought to a close.