When the teams were announced for West Ham United’s away fixture at Old Trafford on 21 December, few Hammers supporters would have expected the name of Adrian to be in between the sticks, but now he is always the first name on the team sheet. But the question is, what has former number one Jussi Jaaskelainen done wrong?
As Robert Green left to move across to West London to join Queens Park Rangers, Sam Allardyce moved quickly to reunite himself with the former Finnish international who was available on a free transfer.
When the club confirmed the deal in the summer of 2012, Big Sam showed no hesitation in putting him ahead of Stephen Henderson in the goalkeeping pecking order.
He was a mainstay in the squad last season, playing all 38 Premier League matches, although this season has been a different story.
His last league appearance came in the 2-1 loss away toFulham on New Year’s Day. He last first-team appearance was in the second-leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City, where the team faced an impossible task of reducing 6-0 deficit from the first-leg.
To my mind, Allardyce perhaps wanted give the Spaniard a chance at Old Trafford knowing his team would be lucky if they took anything back home to East London with them. that day On the day the Hammers were on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat, but for the goalkeeper it could have been a long more damaging.
The next game at home to Arsenal on Boxing Day also saw the Hammers come out second best, losing by the same scoreline, however the first of Arsene Wenger’s side’s goals saw the ball squirm under Adrian’s legs for the equaliser.
Now Adrian is back in the side he is performing superbly and, on Tuesday night in the home match against Norwich City, he made four outstanding saves to keep West Ham in the game when it was still goalless and those stops really made a huge difference, as two late goals from James Collins and Mohamed Diame made sure that the team had picked up nine points from nine in February.
On the form that Adrian is currently showing, who knows when Jaaskelainen will make the number one spot his own again?
On April 12 last year it was announced that Jaaskelainen had signed a new one-year rolling contract, but it’s possibly down to bonuses that he has not been given a regular place in the side recently or, on the other hand, it could just be that Jaaskelainen is at the ripe old age of 38 and nearing retirement and Allardyce just feels that its time to try out other options
Big Sam is clearly reluctant to wait until the Finn finally does hang his boots up to then panic and search for another keeper, either as good as or better than the man he trusted so implicitly during his time at the Reebok Stadium.