Arsenal's From Brilliant To Bobbins XI - Part 1
From time to time, whoever you support, there will be some players that, for whatever reason, you tip for greatness. And from time to time, for whatever reason, they will subsequently suffer a spectacular fall from grace. Here, I have charted my "I thought they were going to be brilliant but they turned out to be bobbins" XI for your reading pleasure.
Signed from Casino Graz as an understudy for David Seaman in the summer of 1997, little was known about the impossibly rosy cheeked Austrian when he arrived in N5. For the first 6 months or so, he had to be satisfied with a watching brief, with only the odd Coca Cola Cup appearance keeping the splinters from his arse cheeks. (One wonders if they were as pink and pinchable as his buccal).
But injury to David Seaman in February 1998 gave Manninger his chance. The Austrian played 7 Premier League games and kept 6 consecutive clean sheets. The last of which came in a spellbinding display of athleticism to keep Manchester United at bay at Old Trafford. He was also the hero as the Gunners defeated West Ham on spot kicks in the F.A. Cup Quarter Final. He was named Premier League player of the month for March.
When Seaman returned to fitness, the consensus seemed to be that the Austrian- a gymnast in his youth- ought to keep his place. He didn't and he never repeated that purple patch of form again. Seaman stayed fit for the proceeding two years or so, limiting Manninger's opportunities. Alex's confidence seemed to desert him entirely after an unceremonious 5-0 defeat to Chelsea in the League Cup in November 1998.
When Seaman was finally injured again in late 2000, so was Manninger. 41 year old John Lukic deputised for a few games until Wenger rushed Manninger back from his knee injury. Lacking confidence and fitness, Manninger endured a difficult spell. Whether he was, like Almunia, a talented goalkeeper that lacked confidence, or whether he simply displayed a purple patch of form only to regress to the mean, we will probably never know.
In 2001 we loaned him to Fiorentina, before selling him to Torino. Since then he has taken on a nomadic existence, with spells at Bologna, Siena, Red Bull Salzburg, Siena, Udinese and a spell as back up to Buffon at Juventus. Now aged 37, he is still playing in Germany for F.C. Augsburg.
Tags: Stephen Hughes, Denilson, Senderos, Scott Marshall, Juan, Ryan Garry, Alex Manniger