The Story of this Summer’s EFL Goalkeeper Merry-Go-Round Phenomenon

You and I have at least one thing in common… we both love football, another thing would probably be that we find the transfer window bloody exciting.

Exciting, fascinating, interesting… mind-blowing in some ways. If you don’t like the transfer window then let me try and convince you as to why it is at least a little bit entertaining.

We all know that when one player leaves a club, the management usually have to sign a player to replace them (unless they promote from within). This is a well-known thing, obviously. The one position that you don’t see a lot of big movers in however, is the goalkeeper position. They tend to have longer stints at clubs and don’t make the headlines if and when they do move on. It is for the second reason as to why you probably hadn’t noticed the transfer merry-go-round this summer that included 10 different keepers, nine different clubs and a whole load of chaos.

Where did it all start?

Jamie Jones has been a goalkeeper at Wigan Athletic since 2017, though he’s never really been able to nail down the no.1 position. That was until last season, when the former Leyton Orient shot-stopper made 45 appearances in League One as the Latics beat the drop to the fourth division by one point. They conceded 77 goals in that time; only three teams conceded more – and the most was only 80.

With the fresh investment coming in at Wigan, they decided a new goalkeeper is in order, so on the 28th June they announced a new recruit.

Ben Amos, former Crewe Alex and Manchester United youth keeper, had signed on the dotted line for Wigan, marking the end of his spell at fellow League One side Charlton Athletic. He had been a solid keeper for the Addicks, and it came as a bit of a surprise to many that he left the London-based club.

It would’ve been understandable for Charlton fans to be worried about the goalkeeper situation at their club… but on the same day, owner Thomas Sandgaard had an announcement to make.

With the first domino fallen, the second came that same day, as it was released that former Portsmouth goalkeeper, Craig MacGillivray had left the south coasters and joined Charlton.

Two top League One keepers had moved within 24 hours of each other. A seismic shift in the third division’s landscape.

This, of course, left Pompey keeper-less. Three days later and another keeper was on the move.

Cristiano Ronaldo had the all-time international record goalscorer title within his grasp. A penalty given away by sloppy Irish defending, meant the former Real Madrid and Juventus man stood only seconds away from making history. But a 19-year-old made him wait a little longer.

He struck his penalty hard and low, but the Republic of Ireland keeper got a strong hand behind it to keep out the legendary forward’s effort. The headline had suddenly shifted from the attacker, to the keeper. Of course, Ronaldo later scored two and became the record-breaker, but a lot of the headlines were still about this mysterious teenager.

Though, if you’re a League One fan, he’s not mysterious at all… he’s just Gavin Bazunu. The Manchester City youngster had spent the previous on loan at relegated Rochdale, where he made 32 appearances. Though the season ended in disappointment, the young loanee came out with a lot of credit.

So, when Pompey announced the loan signing of the Irish international their fans were certainly appeased.

Two more dominos had fallen, but it left League Two side, Rochdale, without their number one.

On August the 10th, Rochdale announced the signing of Joel Coleman. The Fleetwood keeper hadn’t made an appearance in the previous season, but still had another year on his contract with the Cod Army. So, how exactly did he end up signing for Rochdale for free?

Well, the dominos had fallen on one side, as the League One keepers made their moves, but the key dominos in League Two were also falling.

On June 8th, 32-year-old goalkeeper, Paul Farman left Carlisle United to join AFC Barrow. Why? The keeper, whose middle name is Appleby, spent one season at Carlisle, but it was an impressive one. 45 appearances as first choice keeper and many clean sheets meant it was surprising to see the keeper move on after 12 months. He citied the inability to agree of new terms as the reason he switched clubs this summer.

This move set off another chain of events that lead to Joel Coleman’s move.

With Barrow now having two very good no.1s at the club, it was only a matter of time before the original no.1 moved on. This is where we turn to Bolton Wanderers.

Just promoted out of League One, with veteran Matt Gilks in goal, the north west side realised they need a proper number one. They had had young Fleetwood Town keeper, Billy Crellin on loan during their promotion year. But after only 11 appearances, and not 11 good ones, they brought Gilks out of his coaching role and onto the pitch. Crellin’s failed loan meant they didn’t want him back this season, especially as they had captured the signing of another League Two goalkeeper… Joel Dixon.

‘But where does he fit into all of this?’ I hear you cry. Well, he had just played 45 games in League Two for AFC Barrow. With Farman’s arrival, Dixon decided to leave and on the 25th June he was announced at Bolton.

You see, despite a struggling loan in League Two, Fleetwood still highly rate young Billy Crellin. So, with their precious youth keeper back in the fold, he took his place on the bench. Who had kept that bench warm last season? Joel Coleman.

A mutually agreed contract termination later, and Coleman was free to go wherever he wanted. Who needed a keeper? Rochdale… well, so did Carlisle but wait a minute on them.

Joel Coleman, who has struggled for game time throughout his career has come in at Rochdale as their new no.1. A move that was only made possible because Wigan Athletic decided they needed a new keeper and Paul Farman couldn’t agree a deal.

It’s modern day poetry.

Quickly, at Carlisle they’ve promoted from within. Last season’s no.2, Magnus Norman, has been used as their first choice keeper this season with them bringing in another keeper to replace Farman’s hole. Lukas Jensen, is a 6’6 keeper with less than 20 professional appearances to his name at the age of 22. Maybe this loan from Burnley will be the one.

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