Chelsea ace falling victim to what has become a poisoned chalice

Ross Turnbull

It seems that Ross Turnbull is unable to put a foot right. Chelsea’s back-up goalkeeper started his first and only game of the season against Newcastle in the Carling Cup last month and was beaten four times. Ever since joining the club from Middlesbrough on a free transfer in 2009, Turnbull has been nothing more than back-up to Petr Cech and Hilario in the Chelsea goal and he looks set to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Turnbull has not progressed during his time at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has apparently lost patience with the Englishman. Reports have linked Turnbull with a move to Stoke as part of a deal which would see young Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic join the club in the next transfer window.

The omens were not good for Turnbull, even at the beginning of his Chelsea career. He was handed his first Chelsea start against Aston Villa in a reserve team fixture. During the game, Turnbull made a series of bad errors which resulted in a humiliating 4-0 loss.

Things were not to get better for Turnbull. During Chelsea’s pre-season, Turnbull turned in yet another error-strewn performance against Ajax. He dropped a massive clanger for Ajax’s second goal when he slid to meet the ball on the edge of the area. However, he misjudged his momentum as it would take him and the ball outside of the area. He proceeded to let go of the ball which allowed Ajax midfielder Siem de Jong the easy task of rolling the ball into the open net.

Apparently, being an English goalkeeper at a “top” club is something of a poisoned chalice as Scott Carson and Ben Foster were to find out.

Scott Carson joined Liverpool back in 2005 but his time on Merseyside was fraught with frustration. He played only 9 times in 3 years with Liverpool and was sent on loan three times. Carson went on loan to Sheffield Wednesday on a one month deal in March 2006 and was  integral in helping the Owls escape relegation that season.

He returned to Liverpool at the end of the season only to be loaned to Charlton for the whole of the 2006-2007 season. During his time at the Valley, Carson was a regular in the Charlton goal, playing all 36 games in the Premier League that he was permitted to (he missed the two games with Liverpool as part of the loan agreement).

The next season was much of the same for Carson. He was considered back-up to first-choice goalkeeper Pepe Reina and was sent on loan to Aston Villa. At Villa Park, Carson was once again a mainstay in goal, playing 35 times for the Villians as they finished 6th in the league.

Once again, Carson returned to Liverpool but enough was enough. He decided to move to West Brom in search of regular first-team football which the Baggies could provide him.

By joining West Brom in 2008, Carson has managed to gain a semblance of stability in his career after playing for 4 different clubs in 3 years.

Like Carson, ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster came to Old Trafford with the hope of eventually unseating Edwin van der Saar as United’s number one goalkeeper but eventually grew tired of waiting for his opportunity and decided to move to Birmingham City this summer.

For Foster and Carson, it was a case of unfortunate timing as to why they failed to make the cut at Liverpool and Manchester United. It was not that they weren’t talented enough. It’s just that they had established world-class goalkeepers ahead of them in the pecking-order. To stick around and wait for their opportunity would be detrimental to their careers so they did the sensible thing and moved to secure first-team football elsewhere.

Both Carson and Foster have been vindicated in their decision to move. They both start week-in week-out for their respective clubs. If they continue their good form, who knows? There could be a chance that they could earn a move back to one of the “top” clubs sooner rather than later.

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