Deadbat's 2017-18 Season Review/School Report - Part Three

Goalkeepers 

Simon Moore

Probably a disappointing season for him as he got injured and then never properly got his place back and was only in when Blackman was injured or suspended. You kind of felt he was second choice and even when he was preferred to Blackman a few times he never totally grabbed his chance. Too many long-range shots went past him. He of course did not start the season and his first game came at home to Hull in November but he saw a long-range shot go past him too easily and Blackman was put straight back in. After a poor run of results and a few long rangers going past Blackman also; Moore got back in the side but saw another long ranger go past him against Bristol City. He had little chance with goals at Preston and against Villa nor the winner v Bolton that he conceded. He made a great save late in the Sheffield derby but another long-range effort went past him (v Villa – little chance I felt) and then conceded a few at Wolves and was recklessly sent off. This saw him out of the team until Blackman also got sent off stupidly. Moore got back in but had little chance with the goal v Cardiff but then looked shaky at Barnsley and maybe could have done better on the first goal and certainly the second. The indecision continued as he looked nervous in the home game v Boro and far removed from the fairly dominant keeper we saw at League One. Blackman was put straight back in after suspension.

The stop start season did not help but he never looked commanding, too many shots went past him and he made a few daft mistakes allied to a stupid red card. Needs to improve if he is going to be a regular at this level for us or for anywhere else. His best 2 seasons came in League One for us and Brentford. He never established himself at Cardiff at this level and has not done it yet at United. I will be honest and say we need to do better than him on evidence so far and would prefer Blackman or someone else as number one. Hope he can improve but needs to control his area more and save more shots. Sounds simple but is reality if he wants to be a first choice higher than the lower levels. 

Grade C (Last season B)

Jamal Blackman

A late signing who had been on loan at Wycombe with mixed reports but Wilder and Mitchell had seen enough in the lad and he was pitched straight in against Brentford. A giant at 6/7’’. He seemed to have a huge presence about him and his flat top hair, bright yellow keepers top and bright green gloves made him stand out even more. At times he looked like Kenny Everett as his giant hands came out and took crosses. Opening day, he made several superb saves and this set the scene. He had a few shaky moments early season but no big errors and he seemed incredibly relaxed. Almost too relaxed. We said he was the giant black version of Simon Tracey! 

He did really well in some games and he was dominant in games away at Sunderland, Bolton and Wednesday catching lots of high balls and controlling his area. He made some important saves in some games and generally seemed fine You always worried a mistake may come as he did seem very nonchalant but it never really happened until a freak error where he fell awkwardly when he landed and conceded a disastrous goal at QPR. He then was out for a game but such was Wilder’s faith he came straight back in as we went back top of the league at Burton. I felt he might have done better, like Moore, with some long rangers but it seemed we conceded lots of worldies and that the defence could have protected them both better. We went through a poor spell and a few players were changed, including Blackman and he lost his place for 11 straight league games but Moore never totally convinced even if he too did not make many big errors. We carried on conceding too many shots and after Moore was sent off; he got back for 10 games but his stupidity at Brentford saw him suspended and out of the team again. The fact he was put back in straight away said it all and he made some more good saves v Millwall but maybe could have done better at Birmingham on the winner. He also made a poor mistake at home to Preston which cost us the game.

I have seen enough of him that I would like us to sign him. Either on a permanent deal or another season long loan. Still only 24 – he has so much potential. Decent shot stopped (although a few too many went in of course), takes crosses and a real presence. He could be an excellent keeper and play top level. Chelsea will at some point surely sell him as you cannot see him close to the first team there with Courtois and they will just sign another established keeper when they want to replace him. However, they have him under contract another year but now know that at the end of the season they cannot get a fee for him whilst up to October when he turns 25 they can. So be interesting to see what they do. I think another season long loan where we pay a fee (higher than we maybe would for a normal season long loan if it has maybe some sort of agreement to turn it into a permanent deal with the player and agent at the end of the season). 

Grade B (Last season NA)


Jake Eastwood

Suddenly found himself around the first team after Long was allowed to go on loan and then no new keeper came in. Moore’s injury saw him play and do ok in a few preseason games but you felt Wilder would not risk him and in came Blackman. There was some doubt who would get the nod for the season opener such was how Eastwood had impressed but Blackman did well in a man of the match performance. He got a couple of League cup games and was badly exposed at home to Leicester but then as Moore came back was back to the u23’s. He had a brief loan spell at Chesterfield but in a poor side shipped a fair few goals in only a few games and came back. With injuries to Blackman and suspensions to both keepers; he was back in the match day squad and even came on at Molineux and immediately conceded in tough circumstances. Wilder feels he has a bright future and for a keeper is still young at 21. You feel he may need a season long loan somewhere to get him some games. Contracted for another year.

Grade C- (Last season NA )

The rest

George Long

Was someone whose confidence seemed shot after his start under Wilder allied to his mixed form the previous season/s under Clough and Adkins. Simon Moore established himself and it seemed he needed a move away. He got it with a loan move to AFC Wimbledon. Probably getting away from Sheffield was the best thing that could happen. He needed to go and get some games and he did well at AFC Wimbledon. He was really rated by their fans and won several man of the match awards and got a lot of practice as they struggled to stay up. I did see a few dicey moments in goals I saw go in but inevitable with so many shots reigning in; that the odd one may beat him. His future is a bit uncertain. Many rightly will want us to sign Blackman. If we do not; then another keeper will come in to rival Moore. Not sure Long will be that man. He is out of contract and you have a sense his time may be up. He may have done enough with his performances to get himself a decent deal at League One level.

Update: Long - Did not realise he had another year. The right move to try and get a fee even if small - with a sell on clause. He needs to be playing now.

Marcus Dewhurst and Hugo Warhurst are two other young keepers. Dewhurst from Hull originally has been the u18 keeper whilst Warhurst has alternated with Eastwood at u23 level. The latter ended up on loan at Frickley learning from a son for a former Blades favourite, as Paul Stancliffe’s son is the player (keeper) /coach at Frickley. 

Next season

Moore will be back but of course questions remain over Blackman. Ideally, we would keep both of these with Blackman as number one but if he does not return we need to recruit someone else and maybe as first choice as Moore has not convinced. Big signing this summer whoever it is, whether it is Blackman or another. We definitely need one more keeper and ideally as first choice.

Long is now 24 and not sure he will ever be a regular at the Lane. Even if he was not had the inconsistency of his time at the Lane and despite doing well at AFC Wimbledon; at best he would be a back up. Even if he was a sub keeper would all fans have confidence in him; even as number 2? I am not sure we would. He has done well at League One though and this is probably his level at best and expect him to depart this summer. Eastwood probably needs time out on loan. He only has another year left on his contract but is only 21. Big season too for the two young keepers who need to push on.

Returning players;

Player / Position Years remaining (contract expires)

Goalkeepers
Simon Moore 1 year (2019)
George Long Out of contract (2018)
Jake Eastwood 1 year (2019)
Marcus Dewhurst 1 year (2019)
Hugo Warhurst 1 year (2019)

Loan returnee: 

Jamal Blackman – Back to Chelsea