As a general rule, the most lazy method to go about improving a football team is to suggest the supplanting of the current number one with the backup. Over recent weeks I have repeatedly seen people call for the replacement of Paddy Kenny in the starting eleven with his reserve, Jamie Ashdown. This is a suggestion that leaves me baffled every single time I come across it.
Firstly, what has Paddy Kenny actually done wrong over the season? In fact, to be more accommodating for the other perspective, what is it that Paddy Kenny has done more wrong over the season than any other player in the first team? The goalkeeping berth has consistently been the position in which there has been no real issue. Given the utterly porous nature of our defence (on average, over the entire season), with the opposition getting chance after chance to convert, Paddy Kenny has to make 2 or 3 great saves per match. He tends to make them. Paddy Kenny, as much as people critique his reactive goalkeeping, as opposed to the more modern sweeping goalkeeping, tends to be one of our better players.
Secondly, what has Jamie Ashdown actually done right over the season? Or, more accurately, what has Jamie Ashdown done more right than Paddy Kenny? I can’t remember a single egregious mistake that Kenny has made to directly cost us an important goal in an important match. For example, the Wolves game was an example of him being a clever dick, yet it didn’t lead directly to a goal. Ashdown, on the other hand, let the ball go under his body against Chelsea, costing us a one goal lead and essentially condemning us to a loss, given we had no lead to protect. He’s not Rachubka-esque by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t remember Jamie Ashdown ever looking entirely comfortable.
This is the thing with goalkeepers, they need to have your trust. I’ve never felt like Paddy Kenny is going to let us down, and in fact, he often wins us points by making saves that he shouldn’t be required to – think of Middlesbrough at home, for example. Ashdown, whenever I watch him, always looks on the cusp of conceding a goal he shouldn’t. We have big problems in the starting eleven, but without a shadow of a doubt Paddy Kenny is not one of them.
Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).