The Michael Wood Column

Saturday 14 July, 2001

Six months later and a promotion later and where is Matt Clarke?

There is a lot on nonsense talked about Matt Clarke. About how good he is a goalkeeper or a man, about what he should do and about what City should do with him, but perhaps the most curious Clarke-bite came from his agent last week:

"In the Premiership you need two quality goalkeepers and that is where we could se Matt fitting in."

In other words. Matt Clarke will go to a Premiership club and fight for a place, perhaps not get on the pitch every week but when he gets his chance, take it with both hands. Battle for the shirt. Well I cast my mind back to Newcastle last year when Clarke was dropped and can not help but to see the irony.

City, then recently under new management, dropped Clarke after a series of errors. Clarke through a mental and ended up at Bolton, incensed that the guy he saw as his number two, Gary Walsh, might get a chance. Now it seems his greatest desire is to play the role of Walsh to someone else.

One has to ask what progress Matt Clarke has made in the six months since that day? Sure he proved how good a goalie he was at Bolton, but everyone already knew that. What other club's managers did not perceive, and what Matt Clarke changed with his toys out of the pram routine, was the idea that the former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper was a good pro. Far from it, the rest of football sees Clarke as a trouble maker. Before there was talk of Man U and Arsenal but Sir Fergs and Wenger would not let him in for fear of rocking the boat. Even if this notion is far from the truth the fact is that that is how Clarke is viewed and he only has one way of rectifying that.

Matt Clarke, if he wants to go on to bigger and better than the fighting for a place in a Premiership side he wanted out of after Newcastle, has to make up with City to prove his professionalism and then catch the eye with his goalkeeper.

We know for a fact he could do the latter, the test is if he is able to achieve the former.

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