Without a recognized first-team goalkeeper in the squad for the first two weeks of preseason — Courtois and Caballero on vacation; Eduardo on loan at Vitesse — a trio of Academy youngsters joined Chelsea for the trip to Perth over the weekend. Brad Collins, 21, Jared Thompson, 19, and Marcin Bułka, 18, were probably all hopeful of getting the nod for Monday’s friendly. Collins was rumored, but it was the appropriately named Bułka, standing at almost 2m tall with ... bulk ... to match, who played the full game as Chelsea beat Perth Glory 1-0 to begin the Sarri era on a good note.
Bułka, who signed with Chelsea two years ago, often served as a fourth goalkeeper in Chelsea training last season, so perhaps him getting the start over the two older Academy products was not that big of a surprise. Certainly, young Marcin, a Poland U19 international, took it well in stride and while he didn’t have that much to do, still rated it as a great experience.
“That was a great experience for me, in front of that many people, because there were 55,000 people there. It was a great experience, my first match, and I am happy to have a clean sheet. My last biggest crowd was 10,000 but I did not feel a lot of pressure on me, I just played. I want to be myself and I think I did it.”
“...it is good to work with the new manager and with the new staff, and it is good to show them what you can do. I think it was a good trip for us and now we have to go home and focus on the months ahead.”
-Marcin Bułka; source: Chelsea FC
So, onwards and upwards for Big Bulky from here on, right? There is, after all, at least one vacancy in the first-team.
Or maybe not. Chelsea might actually be doing something decently smart with the third goalkeeper role for once. Here’s yesterday’s rumor about a certain Rob Green, aged 76.
Rob Green to Chelsea, says a very good source. Not a direct replacement for Thibaut Courtois obviously but a strange one to sign even as backup. Top bloke btw is Rob.— Matt Lewis (@mattlewis27) July 24, 2018
Green, who made his name at Norwich City and by letting Clint Dempsey’s shot go through his hands in South Africa, is actually “just” 38 and without a club since being released by Huddersfield Town in July. And while the rumor itself might sound hilarious, signing Green to be, ostensibly, the third goalkeeper is a move that makes every bit of sense.
It allows the young goalkeepers to go on loan (or stay with the development squad) and it gives the team a homegrown option as backup-to-the-backup. With the squad limited to 17 non-homegrown players in both the Premier League and Europe, having someone like Eduardo or Marco Amelia as the third goalkeeper in recent seasons meant that we either wasted a spot or we didn’t register them, which then defeated their purpose from the get-go.
(As far as Bułka specificially, he probably should stay with the development squad for his third year so that he counts as not only homegrown but as Academy-trained in the future.)
It should be noted that Green has been linked with Chelsea just about every time we’ve gone in search of a backup, so this could yet be one of those instances. But for a pittance, we could get another veteran presence on the training pitch and a “top bloke” to boot, who’s unlikely to ever play a competitive match for us anyway.