Scott Carson was signed in the January transfer window from Leeds. Also wanted at the time by Chelsea, he followed Steven Gerrard in turning them down.
Cumbrian-born Carson was signed by Leeds after being spotted playing for his local amateur team and soon found his way into the England Under-21 squad. As a Liverpool ‘keeper he’s now under pressure more than perhaps other keepers at any other premiership club, perhaps with the exception of Manchester United, who’s goalkeepers have given us all a few laughs in recent years.
Liverpool’s goalkeepers always seem to get more of the spotlight after a mistake than do other keepers.
Bruce Grobbelaar won more medals than any other keeper that’s in the Premiership now, yet was forever called a clown.
David James was nicknamed Calamity James whilst at Liverpool, yet
became England’s first-choice keeper for a time after leaving the Reds.
Brad Friedel was often criticised and ridiculed when between the sticks
for Liverpool, yet now is considered one of the best goalies in the
English top-flight, forever being complimented on his displays.
Sander Westerveld left Liverpool after one bad mistake against Bolton at the start of the 2001 season.
Jerzy Dudek has made some pretty bad howlers for Liverpool, notably
against Manchester United, but his first taste of the special attention
given to Anfield’s keepers came in a game Liverpool lost against
Middlesborough a couple of seasons back. Dudek dropped the ball under
pressure, and was quite unfortunate, yet the criticism was over the top
from the media.
Chris Kirkland’s run of bad luck with injuries means he’s not yet had
too many games for the Reds, yet when he’s in goal on televised games,
the question is always asked, "Should the keeper have got to that?".
There’s always the implication that the Liverpool keeper is not
So now Scott Carson has brought himself into this arena. England
under-21s play Germany under-21s. Carson makes numerous saves to keep
his team in the game. Then right at the end a mistake leads to the
Germans getting hold of the ball from a miskicked clearance, and a goal
is scored. All of Carson’s previous hard work is forgotten. The fact
he’s 19 years of age is forgotten. Carson, now a Reds keeper, has
committed a howler. Very few reports had anything positive to say about
Carson after that game, despite great attempts by under-21 boss Peter
Taylor to play the mistake down.
His second game for the Reds, and his home debut, came yesterday
against Bolton. Prior to the game Rafael Benitez pointed out how the
Bolton players always seemed to push the rule books to the limits with
opposition goalkeepers. Straight away then, Carson knew he was in for
some fun: "I was under a lot of pressure. Maybe Bolton is not the team
you want to face on your first game at Anfield, you know they are going
to drop the ball on top of you right from the first minute and you have
to deal with it," he said. He also accepts its part of the modern game
in England: "It’s not very pretty but they have been doing it well all
season and it works for them, so they are going to keep trying it."
Carson will probably remain Liverpool’s third-choice keeper for the
rest of this season. Kirkland believes he’ll be able to play again
before the end of the season, and at that point it’s likely Benitez
will choose from Kirkland and Dudek, with the other player taking his
place on the bench. If Benitez is looking to cut wage bills though
there’s every chance one or the other will leave in the summer.
Carson’s performance yesterday will make it easier for Benitez to
consider selling one or the other of his two international keepers.
When that happens, Scott Carson can look forward to more criticism,
under the spotlight all the more. As long as he listens only to his
coaches and not the media, he’s every chance of becoming England’s
future first-choice keeper.