Opinion

Despite no guarantee of playing time Ryan right to take Arsenal chance

0:00

Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan's move to Arsenal has drawn praise, but also some criticism about the lack of playing time he might get at Arsenal, but the shot-stopper was right to take the risk.

Go back just six weeks and tell Australian fans that the goalkeeper would be signing for Arsenal and the reaction would have been one of surprise but there it was on Friday with the 28-year-old joining the North London club on loan until the end of the season.  

After falling out of favour and the first-team squad at Brighton and Hove Albion last month, the Australian had no choice but to move. Seeing how much playing time he gets at Arsenal’s number two will be more interesting for observers than wondering whether he can make the pitch as Brighton’s number three. 

Going to Arsenal is a good move for all parties. Ryan is joining a globally-renowned club and can remain in England. The issue of playing time is the big one of course but with just four months left until the end of the season, Ryan can afford to give it a shot. 

If the goalkeeper fails to dislodge Bernd Leno as number one at The Emirates - and that will be no easy task - then at least he can say he tried. He will not spend the rest of his career wondering. And there is always a chance. 

Ryan knows more than most that number twos can become number ones - he has been on both sides of the equation in his career so far.

Whatever happens, he will be busting a gut to make it happen as did John Filan when joining Blackburn Rovers in 1997 as an understudy to England goalkeeper Tim Flowers.

Filan did not have Ryan's reputation but soon, the Australian was starting ahead of the one-time most-expensive-goalkeeper-in-the-Britain and only a broken arm allowed Flowers back into the team. 

There will be games in the FA Cup, perhaps even this weekend against Southampton, and the Europa League next month against Benfica and it remains to be seen what else. Yet even if that is all Ryan gets, it’s not that big an issue in terms of Australia in the short-term. 

Graham Arnold expressed his concern about Ryan’s playing time earlier this week when the player was still at Brighton. There is no doubt that international coaches want their players to be playing and goalkeepers most of all  Yet this is not an immediate problem.

Qualification for the 2022 World Cup is scheduled to resume in March though, for obvious reasons, this is not set in stone and it may well be June before much of Asia is back in action.  

Australia have four games remaining in the second stage that should have finished last year and after winning all four games so far are going to progress to the third and final group stage. Australia will get through regardless of whether Mat Ryan is playing regularly for Arsenal or not. 

Ryan can afford to take a short-term deal to see whether he can establish himself at the club he supported as a boy.

If it doesn’t work out, it is only four months and then he has the entire summer - a much better time than January in which to seek a permanent move - to find the right club. And doing so as Arsenal’s number two will be better than Brighton’s number three. 

And if it does work out then it will be exciting to see Australia’s number one establish himself at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Arsenal may not quite be the force of old but the Gunners have a worldwide following.

Being watched by 60,000 fans every home game, when the situation is back to normal, is not to be sniffed at. 

So good luck to Mat Ryan. He has taken a fine opportunity and it remains to be seen what happens. If it is not much then it’s not that big a deal and in May, he can move on, safe in the knowledge that he gave it his best shot.

Source SBS The World Game