Adrian San Miguel was a natural number one from the day he arrived at Upton Park – the only caveat being that he didn’t wish to wear the number one on his shirt.
His passion for the club is second only to that of West Ham lifer and super-fan Mark Noble, and he so quickly became a fan favourite due to his skill and also understanding of and respect for the club and fans. But since the move to London Stadium and the arrival of Irish goalkeeper Darren Randolph, we’ve seen less and less of the enigmatic Spaniard.
So where did it all go wrong for West Ham’s loyal and passionate man between the sticks? And does Adrian still have a future in claret and blue? Adrian is out of contract in the summer, and it’s hard to see him wanting to stay lurking in Randolph’s shadow. Although he started the season playing a full 90 minutes in goal each game, since the Stoke game in early November he hasn’t played another minute of Premier League football for the Hammers.
Meanwhile, Randolph continued to impress internationally and in cup runs – and after West Ham’s failing start to the season the two swapped roles. Randolph has become the Premier League regular while, after a disastrous FA Cup run, the only thing Adrian is currently saving is a seat for Randolph if he ever comes off the pitch.
Adrian is a great goalkeeper and has pulled off some tremendous saves – as well as the ‘gloves off ’ penalty which will always be one of my best Upton Park memories – but he does have a tendency to play around with the ball too much, and get caught out for it. He time wastes and gets caught doing so, and he can be quite clumsy coming off his line towards opposing strikers. Unfortunately, once the goals start against Adrian, they do tend to continue coming.
Sure, this has happened to Randolph on occasion – and comparatively, in the span of three weeks Manchester City slammed five goals past Adrian, but only four goals past Randolph, because that is the sort of statistic we have available to us at West Ham United – but the truth is that our season has picked up since the swapping of keepers. The sad thing for Adrian is that it may just come down to a lack of international experience that gave him the boot.
Randolph’s European summer was well-received; he established himself in goal during Ireland’s run in the Euros, and came back with a quiet confidence. Adrian has been identified as a potential for the future by Spain, but has a tremendously competitive pecking order to try to usurp before becoming a regular international.
So what’s next for Adrian? The man wears his heart on his sleeve, and it’s never pleasant to see a player who would die for their club leave, but it’s far worse to see a talented player and a good man waste away on the bench. The truth is, he can’t beat Randz at the moment, but he’s too good to sit out when he could get regular playing time elsewhere. Adrian absolutely should move on this summer – but he should move on because it’s good for him, not because it’s good for us.
He’s too young and talented not to be regularly playing. He can leave with his head held high, and know that his loyalty and passion for West Ham through the years will always hold him in high esteem among the claret and blue.