I’m writing this article for two reasons: the first one is stated in the title and will essentially be the crux of this piece. I will get to it in a bit, after saying a few words on the second point, which I consider no less important.
Namely: I wanted to bid farewell to David Ospina. This is what he was recently quoted saying:
“They [Fenerbahce] are dealing with my agent. At the moment the only thoughts I have are for Colombia. I will not betray my team.”
This confirms earlier reports that Fenerbahce have indeed made an offer for our current №1. While Ospina didn’t say “a deal is completed and I’ll leave for Fenerbahce after the Copa America” the mere fact he’s having talks with other clubs means Arsene has given the green light for the Colombian to leave. Amid all the Cech speculation gathering pace (Sky Sports and David Ornstein, arguably the most reliable sources after dot.com, have gone on record saying the transfer is close to completion), it’s understandable. Moreover, I’ve heard Ospina himself wants to leave if Cech comes in, simply because he doesn’t want to be relegated to the bench again, something that will inevitably happen, as Cech’s intention is to play regularly, otherwise there would be no incentive to leave Chelsea in the first place.
I get Ospina completely. He came in as a firm №2, battled his place from inconsistent Szczesny and produced a string of solid performances. Yes, the Colombian wasn’t flawless, but his mistakes are few and far between, while his calming influence on the defense cannot be measured (and therefore, appreciated) enough. Why should he start on the bench having done so little wrong? He deserves to be №1, in fact, I’m pretty sure he would have remained our №1 if Cech had been unavailable.
If it was up to me, I’d leave Ospina and loan out or sell Szczesny. As it is, Ospina will probably seek pastures new this summer and not because Arsene doesn’t want him. It’s sad really. So I would like to take this opportunity and wish Ospina all the best at Fenerbahce or wherever he ends up. Farewell, my friend.
And now onto my first point. As soon as Arsenal’s fanbase caught whiff of the fact Ospina could be the one to leave should Cech come in, something I haven’t expected (and wasn’t prepared for) started: fans began to mock, ridicule and abuse our Colombian goalie. All his mistakes were brought out in the open and dissected, all his drawbacks (at least they looked like drawbacks to these fans) were recalled. In a nutshell, our keeper became a pantomime villain, a persona non grata, a mediocre shot stopper. A nobody, for whom no respect and/or love should be expressed. So in my article I’ll try to find a logical explanation to this highly illogical behavior.
Is David Ospina a bad player?
No and he’s definitely nowhere near as bad as people make him out to be. Sure, he made a couple of mistakes, but it’s part and parcel of being a football player. Just because Ospina is a goalkeeper, his mistakes are easier to isolate and beat him with. I liked how @JokmanAFC summed it up in his article:
“All goalkeepers have a thankless task. If you play well, you will receive a modicum of praise but it is to be expected. They have one job, to deny goals being scored. Just fulfill the task given. If they drop a clanger, then it is scrutinised to its core and stories regarding poor form will abound. All thanks to one mistake.”
For every Monaco performance there’s a Galatasaray one (remember that game?). For every Swansea there’s a Sunderland. For one mistake against West Brom there’s a string of saves against Tottenham, one which spared us the blushes of being swept aside at White Hart Lane.
Yes, Ospina doesn’t look like a Hollywood shot-stopper; however this doesn’t mean he is a bad goalkeeper. He came in right after Szczesny’s debacle at St. Mary’s and, while the improved performances since January the 4th are not down to Ospina alone, he has still done a very important job at a hard time. Simply by going about his business in a calm and professional manner. Having such a goalkeeper helps the defenders psychologically. Yes, Ospina may not be great; yes, he may have had the benefit of playing behind a settled back four and an in-form Francis Coquelin; however, he made his contribution and it was a telling one.
Is David Ospina a bad person?
That was Flamini’s downfall. Flamini is not a great player, but he gave the fans a legitimate reason to be unhappy with him by leaving in the manner he did. While I personally won’t hate him (maybe because I didn’t remember how he left and had to be reminded), I can kind of understand other fans. They go overboard with their hate, surely they do, but there is a reason.
This part is not applicable to David Ospina. As is the case with on-field, he appears calm and professional off it. Likeable even, dare I say. Just look at this bit from his interview with the Guardian:
“I think that when you are going through difficult times, you have to ensure you are working twice as hard and you are always prepared. You have to hold your head up, too. You can’t be moping and all downtrodden. You need to be prepared in training during these difficult moments and just be ready to grasp any opportunity when it comes.”
There’s more to him than this particular bit, but I can’t take another quote without ripping it out of the valuable context. Read the article in full here, you won’t regret spending your time and will get a clearer picture of what a man Ospina is.
Wrapping it up
Having scrapped out the obvious, there are only two reasons left why the fans are chastising out Colombian shot-stopper and neither are good enough in my book:
- Fans somehow think Szczesny is the guy with potential, while Ospina has already peaked. Hence if they had to choose who leaves should we buy Cech, they’ll pick Ospina most of the time
- Some are scared that as long as we have two international goalkeepers at the Club, a 3rd one won’t join, so they want to get rid of one of the two as quickly as possible
Both arguments are flawed. I get fans are more attached to Szczesny because he loves the Club and has been here longer than his Colombian counterpart, however, saying “Szczesny can be world-class and Ospina can’t” is shooting for the stars. Only a year separates them. Ospina had a solid first season, his season of adaptation, while Szczesny is either too hot or too cold and it has been the case with him for five years now. He only seems to play well when in danger of losing his place. Also, if he couldn’t get his head straight for so long, who said he suddenly will when Cech joins? And please stop saying Ospina can’t be world-class. You don’t know that and David is still young. Not much older than Szczesny at least.
The second argument is no argument at all. If Arsene wants to bring in Cech and Cech wants to join Arsenal, then he will. He will do so after receiving reassurances he’ll be №1, so worrying on that front is silly, chastising Ospina is downright stupid.
So I struggle to understand why Big Dave attracts such hatred, having done so little wrong. But then I struggle to understand many things. Like how you can clap Fabregas and boo Sagna at the same time. Or blame Ozil for shirt-swapping. Or want Song back.
All of this makes me really sad. At times like these, I don’t want to be associated with GoonerFamily.
I’ll leave it here. Hope I gave you something to chew on
Russian Gooner. No, it’s not always cold in my home country 🙂
A staunch Arsenal supporter since 2004. Started writing about the Gunners in 2013.
Currently in London to get a degree in journalism.