Giving Stockdale a chance
Over the weekend, Hull City finally assured themselves of promotion. Having stuttered in the final weeks of the season and even threatened to hand second place to Watford, their 2-2 draw with Cardiff City on the last day of the season proved enough to secure the second automatic promotion spot. Next season, Steve Bruce and his players will join Fulham in the Barclays Premier League.
May 9th, 2013
Amongst the celebrations was 27 year-old David Stockdale, who has established himself as the number one at the KC Stadium throughout this season. That’s Fulham’s 27 year-old goalkeeper, David Stockdale.
The development and growth of Stockdale in recent seasons can no longer be ignored by Martin Jol and those at Fulham. Having been sent out on loan regularly in the past few years, Stockdale has continued to realise the potential many have seen in him from a young age.
He is now in a position that he needs to be playing at the highest level on a consistent basis; or at least be given a fair crack at doing so. He will no longer be happy sitting on Fulham’s bench and playing understudy to Mark Schwarzer. The question is whether he kicks the season off between the sticks for Fulham, Hull City or another team entirely.
Stockdale played a big role in the Tigers claiming promotion, and he’ll no doubt feel strongly that he earned his chance to play in the Premier League. There may be a temptation on Martin Jol’s part to give Stockdale a chance as Fulham’s number one next season.
In truth, a change isn’t needed. 40 year-old Mark Schwarzer passed 500 Premier League appearances last month and has shown no signs of needing to be replaced. There have been murmurs that he might finish his career in the Australian A-League but those have sounded like little more than fantasy for the most part.
The temptation for Jol may be in giving Stockdale a chance to settle in while the safety net of Schwarzer remains around the club. Mark has the experience and knowhow to guide David through a season as a Premier League goalkeeper.
Joe Hart was thrown in as Manchester City’s number one a few seasons ago and has excelled. However, the Manchester club’s fans were heartened by the fact that Shay Given was Hart’s cover on the bench. Having such safe hands on the bench helped to instil a belief in the new ‘keeper that “he must be good if he’s keeping him out of the team.” Early shaky performances would almost be excused by the presence of Schwarzer and the promise of Stockdale making the number one shirt his own for the next eight or nine seasons.
Of course, all of this may be pointless if Hull stump up the cash to make Stockdale a permanent part of their Premier League squad.