The review of the season continues with the men between the sticks
Simonsen did so well on loan a few years ago but had a really bad season in 2010/11 and this year was not much better. He had spells of good games and finished the season really well. It was not his fault we lost the final, as he gave a good performance and it came down to one kick; an awful kick but it should never have got to him.
He is not bad in terms of positioning himself on shots and is a fairly decent shot-stopper but his decision-making is awful. He does not command his box and will not come out for through-balls or crosses., and routinely makes stupid mistakes. The most annoying thing was that he did not communicate with his defenders at all, causing major problems all season.
The cost of Simonsen’s blunders:
Walsall (H) – Two goals. Should have saved Hurst's shot, then did not take a cross that led to another goal.
Wednesday (H) - Came and missed two punches leading to two goals.
Preston (A) - Header that somehow bounced up and over him into the goal.
Orient (A) - Certain win thrown away by a weak punch that led to a goal.
Huddersfield (H) - Weak parry led to Novak goal. Another two crosses went in when he was nowhere near them.
Charlton (H) - Header in six-yard box - should have got the cross.
Oldham (H) – Through-ball for Maguire sending-off – Simonsen stood on his line.
Tranmere (H) - Header from almost on the line.
Bournemouth (H) - Not aware of danger and cost us goal with throw-out into player.
Thirteen goals: Simonsen has had some decent games and did make some good saves but for a team near the top that is a lot of mistakes. With a better keeper, we would have gone up.
Long was seen as a real prospect and looked decent against Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup. Tall, athletic and quite commanding for one so young, he seemed to be ready to press for the first team, having made his debut at Swansea the previous season. He got his chance after Simonsen’s errors and did well against MK Dons but the following week he had a nightmare against Exeter and contributed to two or three of the four goals. His confidence was completely shot and rightly he was taken out of the limelight.
He needed to be put out on loan but that never happened, as other teams probably did not want a young keeper learning his trade between their sticks. He ended back up in the Academy team and was not even in the reserves by the season’s end, with Mark Howard coming in to be No2.
It has been a backward step for Long this season, as he went from being linked with Premier League teams to being back playing in front of a few fans at windy Shirecliffe. Next season is a big season for him, as he will have to make inroads into the first team here or go out on loan.
Apparently Howard is highly rated and seen as someone who could be our No1 but it is a little concerning that we are his eighth club at the age of 25, and that he has yet to establish himself as a No1 anywhere.
George Long (4 years), Mark Howard (1 year)
Unless we get an experienced keeper we will go into the season with Howard and Long, the former of whom will probably get the first chance at being No1.