Saturday, November 18, 2017

Why I can’t rejoice in Lehmann’s return

Never liked him

The return of a forty-one year old goalkeeper who had retired and come back to rescue a dire goalkeeping situation at his old club should be a story in which we all rejoice. The fact that the first choice keeper then gets injured in the warm to a game and the ‘old man’ has to take his place in the team makes the story a really good one. Unfortunately, the ‘old man’ in question is Jens Lehmann, and I couldn’t stand him when he was a regular for Arsenal!

Angry

It only took him about five minutes to be affronted and angry that a Blackpool player had the nerve to actually challenge him and try to score a goal. Lehmann then ‘accidently’ trod on the player as he lay on the ground. I’ll assume it was an accident but a short look at Lehmann’s previous may suggest otherwise.

That’s just it. He was always a nasty and controversial figure and just because he is older and had retired, none of that has changed.

Arsene Wenger was delighted with Lehmann.

“Jens is a competitor. He brings determination, which you need in the final sprint.”

For competitor and determination, you could read, ‘piece of work’.

Pleased

Lehmann himself was really pleased to play at short notice in the 3-1 win over Blackpool.

“I couldn’t really think about it, I couldn’t afford to be nervous. I loved playing football and when you finish it’s a little bit boring because you don’t have this adrenaline any more but that’s what came back to me. I’m quite happy about it. Sometimes life is about surprises. I don’t know what happens next. If that’s my last game ever, I’m happy because we won. Let’s see. The gap to United is only four points if we win our game in hand. Look at me, you never know what’s going to happen in life. United have to play a lot of games in a lot of different competitions and I know from experience what that’s like. It’s exhausting.”

During the game Lehmann made one fine stop with the game at 2-1 and that could be really important come the end of the season. He is right to feel pleased with himself. Despite his age and lack of match practice, he probably isn’t any more of a liability than the man he replaced, Manuel Almunia, and may well keep the shirt for the run in. Having said that, he was never, in my opinion, a great keeper, and that position remains a worry and may well play a large part in Arsenal ending with another trophyless season.

Harsh

I’m being a little harsh on Lehmann who was twice voted UEFA goalkeeper of the year, got selected for three World Cup squads and made the FIFA all-stars team at the 2006 World Cup. He has also won Serie A, the Bundesliga, the Premier League an FA Cup and a UEFA Cup. So I suppose that all asks the question, ‘what do I know?!’

If you look into Lehmann’s life off the pitch you see that he is on the board of a youth football foundation in Germany and an ambassador for a charity that helps children with HIV in South Africa. He has also done work for Unicef.

Intelligent

Lehmann is an intelligent man who studied Economics at University after completing his A Levels. He is happily married with two of his own children and one that he adopted.

All in all he looks like a great keeper who is an all round good bloke. There is absolutely no reason to dislike him.

I’m afraid I just do!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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