Andy Collett keeps York City goalkeepers on their toes
Updated 12:15pm Wednesday 18th June 2014 in Sport
YORK City’s goalkeeping shirt is up for grabs following the arrival of 6ft 81/2in giant Jason Mooney.
On-loan Charlton shot-stopper Nick Pope displaced long-time first choice Michael Ingham from January onwards last season.
But Ingham subsequently signed a new one-year extension to his contract at Bootham Crescent and, with Pope gone, will now compete with fellow Northern Irishman Mooney for the Minstermen’s net-minding position.
On the battle for that place, City goalkeeping coach Andy Collett said: “Nobody is a nailed-on number one or two and Jason is coming in to compete. While Nick Pope was here, Michael had a first-class attitude in training and, in any department, you need competition.
“It brings out the best in players and whoever is in the team will have to be on their toes and do their job correctly because, if not, there will be somebody else behind them to step in and that's a good thing for the football club.”
Mooney, 25, has only managed four senior appearances in English football during three seasons with Wycombe and Tranmere, where he has played second fiddle to Nikki Bull and Owain Fon Williams respectively.
But Collett insisted that his lack of experience should not be mistaken as a reflection of his ability, pointing out: “The goalkeeper he was behind at Tranmere has been in the Wales squad and is a very good keeper, certainly at League One level.
“He's also been pretty much injury free for two or three seasons. That has limited Jason's game time and, to be honest, if we were going to sign somebody like Jason with 250 league games behind him, we would be paying a considerable amount of money.
“I suppose you would, ideally, like to know somebody has played a lot of games but it’s not because he wasn't up to playing. Circumstances have dictated his situation at Tranmere, just as they did for Nick Pope at Charlton.
“He hadn't played many games before he came to us either. There are certain boxes you look to tick when you sign players.
“You hit some of those requirements and others you don't. Playing a lot of games was not necessarily top of the list, but certain other stuff was and he ticks those boxes.”
Having the frame to be a success in the lowest rung of the Football League was among Collett’s criteria, with the former Darlington and Middlesbrough keeper reasoning: “League Two football is very physical with a lot of balls going into the box.
“If you are tall, it gives you a chance to come and get things. But, irrespective of your height, you need the mentality that you want to come and deal with high balls and not just leave that up to your centre halves.
“If you have the physique, there are obviously no excuses really. Physicality is a big part of League Two football from centre forward to goalkeeper.
“It helps that he's big but it wasn't a necessity that he was 6ft 8in. My ideal keeper, though, would be tall and athletic and he fits the bill in that department.”
Collett also revealed that City had lined up a move for Mooney back in late winter with the knowledge that Pope would almost certainly be returning to the Valley next season.
The Minstermen coach added: “Nick did a great job for us but we obviously knew he wasn't our goalkeeper and there was a high possibility he would not be coming back here. He strengthened the department whilst he was here but, as with the outfield positions, we needed to do that on a long-term basis and bring competition in and that's what we have done.
“We have not just picked this up last week. We identified Jason three-and-a-half months ago.
“I have watched him several times and spoke to quite a lot of people about him so, when he got released by Tranmere after they were relegated, we stepped in and snapped him up after sitting down with the chairman.”
Collett believes, meanwhile, that the outgoing Pope can work his way right to the top of the game like his previous protégé David Stockdale.
The latter worked with Collett at Darlington after being released by former City boss Billy McEwan and went on to earn a six-figure move to Fulham, where he has played in Europe and the Premier League and been called up to the England squad.
Last season, Stockdale was preferred in goal to former Dutch number one Maarten Stekelenburg at Craven Cottage and, on the potential of Pope, who kept 16 clean sheets and conceded just 11 goals during 24 outings for the Minstermen, Collett said: “In League Two, Nick fitted the bill perfectly.
“He was aggressive in coming for things in his area. I don't think he had to make too many saves but he liked to come for a cross, which was great for supporters, players and coaches to see.
“In this division, you get a lot of balls coming into the box and, if you have a goalkeeper who is keen to come and help out in the air, as Nick does, he can look a world beater really at times. He has just got to continue his progression as a goalkeeper now.
“He may go back and play at Charlton and, if he does, that would be a big test for him because there would be a lot more pressure and it's actually not as physical. But he was a fantastic lad with a great attitude to learn and, if you have that keenness, you have a good chance of doing well.
“Dave (Stockdale) surpassed where I thought he would get to but that’s credit to him. The big thing with Dave was his attitude.
“He came to me at Darlington really keen to learn and was ambitious with it. Several coaches after me will have added to his game and he has gone on to do fantastically well.
“I see no reason why Nick can’t do something similar. He’s also keen to learn and ambitious and, if you have that, it’s a fantastic starting point.”
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