This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Regular Punter’ series, where we gather original opinions from select, passionate fans of the clubs concerned on matters surrounding their team and share them with a wider audience…
Football League World’s West Bromwich Albion fan pundit Sarah Rudge has expressed her delight at the recent signing of free agent Ali Al-Habsi.
The club confirmed the signing of the goalkeeper as a free agent on Thursday afternoon and, with first-choice shot-stopper Sam Johnstone coming in for criticism as of late, Rudge believes it is a welcome arrival.
“I think this is a really smart move by the club,” the regular punter told Football League World.
“I was personally thinking that we needed another goalkeeper on the books with some experience, with Sam Johnstone still only 26 and Jonathan Bond the only other senior keeper at the club.
“Of course a goalkeeper wasn’t the ultimate priority in the recent transfer window but Ali Al-Habsi brings a wealth of experience and should provide healthy competition.”
The 37-year-old has been without a club since being released Saudi Arabian club Hilal in the summer but was clearly keen to make the return to England having spent a total of 12 years with Bolton, Wigan and Reading before.
However, despite recent criticism coming from the Hawthorns’ crowd, Rudge does not believe that current number one Johnstone has anything to worry about.
The 26-year-old signed permanently from Manchester United in the summer of 2018, making the move across the West Midlands after spending two seasons on loan with Aston Villa.
And our regular punter believes it is time for the fans to get behind him.
“I wouldn’t think he should necessarily be worried,” she said.
“Johnstone is the current number one choice and despite the criticism he has received, he was our man of the match against Derby County last weekend and was extremely impressive.
“I have been critical of him on occasions but its important to remember he is still young for a goalkeeper and it was always going to be tough to follow in the footsteps of Ben Foster.
“I definitely think we should stick with Johnstone as the number one for now.”