Is Sergio Romero the best back-up goalkeeper in world football?
Man United fans certainly think so.
On Monday night, the Argentinian was thrust into action by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United took on Chelsea in their FA Cup fifth round clash.
And as usual, he put in an assured and confident performance to keep a clean sheet and help his side to a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge, which included an excellent double-save to deny both David Luiz and then Pedro at a crucial stage of the match.
He’s now kept 27 clean sheets at United in 42 matches, which gives him the best clean sheet percentage (64.2%) of ANY goalie who’s played in more than three matches for the club.
Sure, many of his performances have been up against so-called inferior opposition, such as Yeovil in the FA Cup last season.
Easy to keep a clean sheet in games like that, right?
But actually, Romero has been just as good in ‘big’ matches, such as the one we witnessed yesterday, or against Arsenal in the fourth round, or away to Valencia in the Champions League earlier in the season.
And let us remind you, Romero started in all 12 of United’s games in their successful Europa League campaign in 2016–17, facing the likes of Ajax, Celta Vigo, Fenerbache, Feyenoord, Saint-Etienne and Anderlecht.
Appreciation for United’s unsung hero should go further than just turning up for the odd cup match.
After all, it must be pretty tough to be the understudy to David De Gea, who’s quite possibly the best goalkeeper in the world right now.
But for weeks and months on end, the 31-year-old quite happily sits on the bench as back-up to De Gea, and you rarely hear of him complaining to the press about his lack of game-time, or giving his manager a hard time about wanting to move.
What makes things even trickier for Romero is that he’s still very-much Argentina’s No.1.
In fact, he’s considered an important and experienced member of the national team and often takes up the captain’s armband when Lionel Messi doesn’t play.
He was unfortunate to miss out on the World Cup over the summer with an injury, and could do nothing but watch from the sidelines as Willy Caballero pulled off the gaffe of the tournament against Croatia.
There’s every chance he could remain the national team’s first-choice keeper for a good few years yet.
But there’s little chance of the same thing happening at United.
Signed on a free transfer by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2015, Romero saw plenty of action early on, starting in their season-opening win over Spurs amidst transfer speculation surrounding De Gea’s move to Real Madrid (fax machine, anyone?).
With all of that going on, Romero played in United’s next three league matches and kept a clean sheet in each, only to be unceremoniously dropped when De Gea’s move fell through.
Romero has been the club’s second choice ever-since.
Many would consider De Gea to be perhaps the Red Devils’ best ever goalkeeper.
But the Old Trafford history books will certainly be kind to Romero, who’s proven to be the best back-up keeper the club could ask for.
- Remembering every goalkeeper Man United signed between Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the would-be Golden Boot winner who put Man United over his ego
- Reliving the exact moment David De Gea went from Man United flop to world class superstar
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