Sir Alex’s show of faith in Amos – a double-edged sword?
Posted by nickogs20 on May 20, 2010
With Ben Foster joining Birmingham City this week for a fee mooted to be in the region of £6m, Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that he won’t be looking to sign a replacement, instead preferring to promote 20 year-old reserve goalkeeper Ben Amos to the first team squad.
Speaking on Tuesday at a press conference in New York to promote the club’s upcoming pre-season tour of North America, Sir Alex confirmed the imminent departure of Foster and delivered a ringing endorsement of his younger namesake:
“When we decided to let Ben [Foster] go, we were in the process of letting a good young goalkeeper, Ben Amos, go out on loan. He’s in the England Under-21 team but we can only accommodate three goalkeepers. So when the situation with Ben [Foster]’s future at United came into it and we agreed to let him go, we stopped Ben Amos from going on loan. He will now be our third keeper. He’s very talented and has a good future ahead of him.”
Amos is viewed as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in the country and has excelled for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reserve side over the last couple of years, earning a first team start in late 2008 and regular call-ups at various England youth levels. The Macclesfield-born stopper is currently out on loan at Norwegian club Molde, where his first extended involvement in senior football should prove invaluable ahead of making the step up at United next season.
Despite his obvious ability and potential however, arguably the biggest factor in Ben’s elevation to third choice is the Premier League’s introduction of new squad rules for next season. With clubs required to name squads of 25 senior players but allowed to use an unlimited number of played aged 21 or under, most clubs are likely to carry just the two senior goalkeepers with a younger third choice, freeing up an extra spot in the senior group for an outfield player. In United’s case for example (while acknowledging the squad is subject to plenty of change over the summer), having Amos as third choice rather than Foster or another senior keeper allows Sir Alex to register Mexican striker Javier Hernandez, who joins on July 1st.
This begs the question as to whether this is really a positive development in Amos’ career. Seems a strange thing to say on the face of it – being promoted to the Manchester United first team squad and praised in glowing terms by the greatest manager in the game is the stuff of dreams after all. Regardless, Sir Alex’s words above indicate that Ben was all set to go out on loan again next season, something the player has himself stated in recent interviews with the Norwegian media, and that was presumably because all parties understandably considered that to be the best next step in his career. Now things have clearly changed, and while you can see the reasoning and the short-term benefits for both club and player, you have to wonder whether the probable lack of games next season (barring injury to Messrs van der Sar and Kuszczak) might ultimately prove to hinder the 20 year-old’s long-term development.