Could This Be The Reason For Frustrated Kuszczak’s Rant?
Few Manchester United fans would have imagined after the weekend’s victory over Sunderland which came on the eve of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th anniversary of taking over the club, that they would be speaking about our Polish goalkeeper this week.
Tomasz Kuszczak. Yes, remember him. He’s United’s second (no wait), third (that’s not right either), fourth (that’s right) choice keeper at the moment and has been at the club since 2006 when he signed for the club on-loan from then-relegated West Brom. Kuszczak whilst never being a first-choice for United due to the outstanding form of the recently retired Edwin Van der Sar, has played 61 games for the club picking up 10 major honours at Old Trafford during that time.
The Polish stopper’s finest hour for the club came in the 2010 Carling Cup final against Aston Villa where he was chosen to start by Sir Alex ahead of Ben Foster. Despite conceding an early penalty to James Milner, he ended up finishing on the winning side as thanks to strikes by Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney United turned it around.
Last season was a frustrating one for Kuszczak. He only played 10 times and failed to impress with two shaky performances notably coming at West Ham in the Carling Cup and away at Blackburn Rovers, in the game that saw Untied clinch their record-breaking 19th League Championship.
The signing of Anders Lindegaard last winter also made life tougher for the Pole and it was widely expected that he would be shipped out either on loan or permanently this summer. Kuszczak probably expected to be moved on either before or during the summer transfer window and clearly you can sense his disappointment and frustration in his words..
In comments that have been reported in a number of leading newspapers, here is what Kuszczak is alleged to have said:
“I’ve become a slave to Manchester. I’m frustrated but I don’t want to slander or criticise Ferguson. It’s not my style.
“I’ve talked to Ferguson recently. I asked him to let me leave the club now, before the January transfer window.
“I told him I want to play and get back into the national team, because Euro 2012 is just around the corner — but it seems he doesn’t care.
“The possibility of a two-month loan to Leeds United came up two weeks later. The club blocked it.
“It was a glimmer of hope for me. It would have reminded the Poland manager about me — but I didn’t get the club’s approval.
“Do they do it maliciously? I’m sad they behave like that.
“I have respect for Ferguson because, for me, he’s a great manager, but I hope he will let me go in January.”
The player has since claimed he didn’t use the word ‘slave’, but it’s worth remembering that at the end of the day Kuszczak wants to play football and at 29 years of age, he may not have too many more chances to get a first-team move that he craves for.
In a way it’s worth admiring the fact that when he joined the club, he wanted to challenge Van der Sar in the hope that he would take over and be the club’s no.1 keeper when the Dutchman would retire. It’s fair to say that had Kuszczak stayed at West Brom, there’s a good chance that he’d be their first-choice keeper today or at least be a first-choice elsewhere.
He took the gamble and challenge of joining United which any player in his position would have done. After all, all footballers want to push themselves and play in the biggest competitions and games, yes the wages may have helped Kuszczak’s decision and the fact he was at arguably the world’s biggest club, but it was a far more challenging environment than taking the easy option and playing for West Brom (no offence Baggies fans).
From his side of view, it’s easy to understand why he’s annoyed that he didn’t leave in the summer. Lindegaard’s signing confirmed that Sir Alex and the coaching staff didn’t rate Kuszczak anymore and there would have been lots of top-flight clubs across Europe who would have been interested in taking on an experienced goalkeeper ready for a new challenge.
Forgetting money which surely couldn’t have been an issue in Kuszczak not departing the club, perhaps the only reason why United kept hold of the Polish stopper was down to one thing; a doubt about Lindegaard’s fitness. After all, it’s worth remembering that the Dane suffered a knee-injury back in March which actually allowed Kuszczak to slot in behind Van der Sar as the club’s no.2 keeper towards the end of the season.
Perhaps the fear of Lindegaard suffering a reoccurrence of that knee injury at the start of the season was the key to keeping a frustrated Kuszczak at the club as maybe Sir Alex thought it would be too much of a risk to have Ben Amos as back-up to David De Gea should that injury-scenario occur. That may not be fair on the ‘Pole In Goal’ but football some of the times (alike life) isn’t always fair.
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