WOULD BOSNICH BOOST BRIDGE?
By Rupert Webster
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
At the start of the season, the idea of Chelsea investing in a new keeper appeared far-fetched. De Goey had just set a club record by keeping 22 clean sheets during the 1999-2000 campaign and his place in the starting XI appeared to be secure. However, poor form this term has seen new manager Ranieri rotate between the Dutchman and Cudicini, with neither player performing well enough to claim the number one jersey as their own.
So far this season, De Goey has blocked only 67% of the shots fired at his goal - seven percentage points worse than he managed last term - while Cudicini has been only marginally more successful, having saved 68%.
Particularly worrying has been De Goey's saving ability from close range efforts. The former Feyenoord custodian has saved just 53% of the shots fired on his goal from inside the penalty area - the third-worst ratio of all Premiership 'keepers. This has undoubtedly affected Chelsea's league form, so it is no surprise that Ranieri has identified this area as one that needs strengthening.
Still, the fact that the Blues boss is set to turn to Bosnich is a bit of a bombshell. The Australian international had a disastrous first campaign in Manchester, saving only 68% of the efforts fired at his goal, and his confidence appeared to have deteriorated significantly.
However, before his transfer to United, Bosnich was considered to be one of the Premiership's top shot-stoppers, a status the Blues will hope they can help his regain. In fact, during the 1998-99 campaign, the former Aston Villa player saved 85% of the attempts that were fired on his goal - the best rating of any top-flight custodian - and showed the form that prompted Alex Ferguson to sign him for Manchester United.
Bosnich undoubtedly has the skills needed to perform at Premiership level, what is questionable is whether or not he can regain the confidence so vital for goalkeepers. But with De Goey struggling with his form and Cudicini still learning to cope with top-class football, the Australian 'keeper could prove an excellent addition to the Blues squad.
Indeed, Ranieri has recently stated that he plans to reduce the average age of his squad over the course of the season. So replacing the 34-year-old De Goey with Bosnich (29) would seem to fit in with the Italian manager's plans, and would represent an ideal opportunity for the United custodian to prove himself at a top English club.