To "Sprake". I think it is an old Yorkshire term which means to fool no-one other than the one person it is vital you must fool.
I think it is particular to football and has its origins in the fine but controversial Leeds team of the 1970s. Gary Sprake was the Leeds goalie then. He was a good shot-stopper, as are all top-level goalies; also, he was safe enough on crosses, which some current goalkeepers are not.
However, he was prone to some inexplicable and unfortunately predictable howlers. Often they came at inopportune moments, a cup final for example. The late, great(?), Don Revie had a blind spot about his goalie, though. Loyalty (admirable and perhaps essential to his style) meant a lot to the Don.
Many Leeds supporters... in fact, many people... actually, everyone in the world bar the Don, could see that, despite his qualities, Gary was an utter liability who could stop a good side from becoming a great side.
There are many examples of coaches being "Spraked". Schneiderlin did it with a series of our managers. Everyone could see it bar the man who could do something about it. Carlton Palmer, Andy Carroll, Titus Bramble are just a few examples of how coaches – indeed, international coaches – can be "Spraked".
It may well be happening now at our club with Jordan Pickford.
I know nothing about our goalkeeper off the field... nor nothing about what sort of guy he is. It is mostly irrelevant. What I do see, though, is – in my view – a goalkeeper lacking in anything beyond the basic fundamentals of what skills and qualities a Premier League goalkeeper should have. Being a good shot-stopper should be as fundamental in his skills as being able to kick a ball.
To me, he offers nothing else. He inspires panic and self-doubt among the defence. His punching and clearances are lamentable and he is an error waiting to happen – every minute of every game.
Unlike Sprake, he has yet to throw the ball into his own net, so I guess that is a positive. I believe we are on the verge of something special and I find it exasperating that we do not have another option in goal.
He has been admirably defended on here but I am at a loss to see how anyone can continue with this. Taking a contrarian view is often admirable but not just for the sake of it.
Gareth Southgate is not always right but he is always lacking in options. Carlo has options. We need a new goalkeeper.
Reader Comments (18)
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1 Posted 04/10/2020 at 19:34:10
The difficulty is one of ensuring that we have a keeper who's quality matches that of the outfield. But that is difficult, there being few keepers who tick the required boxes and are available.
As such, the best case scenario is one where the current keeper is retained, but is man-managed to perform more reliably. Perhaps that is the best option in the short term, subject to Don Carlo keeping the situation under review with a view to acting quickly as necessary and assuming the availability of a suitable replacement.
2 Posted 04/10/2020 at 22:25:42
Remember Pickford's saves v Spurs to help us to 3 points. We need to get behind him. Hopefully a couple of good performances for England can boost his waning confidence and we will profit.
3 Posted 04/10/2020 at 22:42:22
The shiteness quotient has now diminished so continuation of Pickford's shiteness stands out like a sore thumb. Father Ted and Dougal would have placards saying "DOWN WITH SHITENESS" at this juncture
Simply suicide to keep playing him
4 Posted 04/10/2020 at 22:52:54
So Blue go yeah, he's shit but hey ho we're winning.
The only opinion that matters is Carlo's. I don't agree with it at all and I think we'll pay the price but for the first time in my life I think the manager knows better than me.
6 Posted 04/10/2020 at 23:33:31
Seriously though, having watched the match, the facial expressions of Mina and Kean when we conceded were to me significant. Carlo has, for now, given Jordan the dreaded vote of confidence but our central defenders, understandably, didn't seem to share this point of view.
It needs sorting Jordan, NOW!
7 Posted 04/10/2020 at 23:35:07
Seriously, when any player loses form or concentration they are dropped until they convince the manager they are back on top of their game. That's what should happen to Pickford, but alas the understudies are some way short of the desired quality. While we are winning its an issue but not critical in Ancelotti's view. That could change in an instant of course if we lose a few games especially if there are reasons to proportion blame to the keeper.
I suspect he believes Pickford can regain his confidence and form playing in a winning team. I also think that he would benefit from a change of coaching staff, clearly they are having no impact on him. Perhaps sessions with Big Nev would help.. but one thing is clear, he is in a privileged position, anywhere else on the pitch he would be dropped for his own good, as much as the team.. at the moment he looks terrified of making a mistake, which conversely means he will make a mistake.. in Carlo we trust...
8 Posted 04/10/2020 at 23:53:14
9 Posted 05/10/2020 at 08:41:08
And he's been unlucky. All the keepers had a nightmare this weekend cos of the conditions, but because of the derby he gets no slack. And yes he spilled the ball, but still, he could have gotten away with it but no, bang, goal. he is not having the luck at the moment. I think we need to support him, cos we can't replace him for a year, and there is a decent goalie in there somewhere
10 Posted 05/10/2020 at 11:52:10
11 Posted 05/10/2020 at 13:49:19
During his first season with us in 2017/18 Pickford was erratic but reasonably effective in a struggling team under three managers. We expected him to improve from there especially after the World Cup. Instead however he has regressed, his erratic tendencies have become more pronounced and he seems incapable of addressing his poor form while he keeps his place in the team.
I suspect Carlo has been biding his time waiting for an opportunity to plug a gaping hole in the squad, the lack of an adequate replacement for Pickford. If he doesnt achieve that today, so be it. He will wait until the next window or the one after that. But sooner or later he will grasp the nettle.
12 Posted 06/10/2020 at 05:26:29
The manager has decided that priorities lay elsewhere and bar injury, he is likely to be our last line for the duration of this season.
I think Liverpool and City goalkeepers have raised the bar in recent seasons and most fans are judging their own keepers by the standards those two have set, but they are far from infallible themselves and I suspect both have already peaked.
Hopefully Pickford's best form will come when we need it most. When we are not winning games in a canter. After the month he personally has suffered. The only way is up.
13 Posted 06/10/2020 at 05:54:11
He doesn't seem to have the attention span of the best keepers, who remain focused even when they have got little to do because they play for a top team. How many times did Schmeichel, Seaman etc have nothing to do for 90 minutes, but then produce a match-winning save? If Pickford has nothing to do, he ends up wanting to get involved and no doubt makes a rick.
I'm hoping he is getting professional help with his attention issues. Carlo has also backed him, but there's no doubt his patience will be wearing thin. He can still turn this around, but he has to do it now...
14 Posted 06/10/2020 at 06:38:45
I've always criticised Pickford for not being able to come out to catch a cross like the aformentioned greats but he showed in the last game, besides the mistake, that he actually can. He just needs to be more consistent in doing it.
And if he could work on holding onto the ball from low shots instead of parrying it back into the path of incoming forwards, that would be a bonus too.
15 Posted 06/10/2020 at 07:27:15
Gary Sprake was a bit before my time, Harvey was the Leeds goalkeeper when I first started watching football, but didn't he once throw the ball into his own goal?
16 Posted 06/10/2020 at 13:11:27
"When any player loses form..."
That's the nub of the issue I don't believe Pickford has lost form he is simply playing to his usual standard. In a crap team there are so many others in the firing line so he mostly gets a free pass. In a decent team were his antics are potentially more costly, he sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn't.
I'm not a great believer in football stats, my eyes tell me more than a spreadsheet ever could, but even the stats have him down as liability.
The local constabulary were considering charging him with handling goalkeeper's gloves under false pretences but he dropped them in the car park and the case folded through lack of evidence
17 Posted 06/10/2020 at 18:47:12
You need a goalkeeper and an attacker to pull a team through those critical times. Everton had Southall and Gray to do that when they where challenging at the top.
18 Posted 06/10/2020 at 19:24:03
But, I think Frank Wade is right. So far this season you could say Pickford has earned us two points or even three points with his performance against Spurs. But thats down to how good the rest of the team were in the last two league games meaning his errors never cost us.
I expect Pickford to improve. The club has two full time sports psychologists and hopefully they can help Jordan rebuild his confidence. His physical ability is not in doubt for me, its purely a mental thing, but sadly some keepers lose it mentally and never recover to fulfill their potential. I hope Jordan can. However, brands would be a fool not to be looking for a new first choice goalie in the summer and working on allocating substantial funds to pay for it.
19 Posted 09/10/2020 at 16:57:11
I think Jordan is some way above that level although he is prone to the "odd Sprake"!!
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