Adam Federici has been a player that's always divided opinion and frustrated Reading fans. He burst onto the scene with a terrific display in a cup tie 2007 at Old Trafford that saw him named man of the round but in the replay of the same tie he looked shaky, letting Heinze's low drive squirm under him for the opener. Saha's effort minutes later wasn't much better and it wasn't a great surprise to see Federici firmly as number 2 for most of the following 2 seasons.
Those two games sum up the best and worst of Federici, who's impressive spell of consistent performances have always been undermined in the memories of fans by games where he's dropped a clanger out of nowhere or beaten when he should have done better.I'm not going to sit here and try and defend those clangers but I would like to stick up for a goalkeeper who's shown he has got the quality to be at least a decent if not a good goalkeeper at Premier League level.
Last season was undoubtedly Federici's best in a Reading shirt and it's possible to suggest we wouldn't have gone up without him, with games against Coventry and Brighton particularly sticking in the mind.
Adam Federici 2011/12 (via rydum8)
OK not every one of those in the video above is a stunner but there's still plenty of examples of Federici proving his quality and helping earn Reading some vital points.
However the question of whether Alex McCarthy would have been equally as good is a fair one to consider. Certainly based on his 2010/11 performances there's reasons to believe he would have done well. On the other hand, McCarthy wasn't exactly a stand out performer on loan spells at Ipswich or Leeds last season so you can't take it as a given he'd have equaled or surpassed Federici's level of performance.
But all that is history and the important question now is whether the Aussie is good enough for the Premier League.
Based on seven Premier League games so far, the jury is still out but he hasn't helped his cause with his performances on the pitch or some of the events of it.
The first sign of trouble came against Stoke, when Federici allowed Kightly's slow, low shot to slip through his arms and into the net. OK so everyone makes mistakes but onto Chelsea and Federici's woes continued. While he could do little about Frank Lampard's penalty, Federici was guilty for letting Cahill's shot beat him far too easily. The third was clearly offside, while the fourth was scored with Federici up for a corner trying to score a late equaliser.
The Capital One Cup tie with Peterborough was another where Federici was beaten a little easily for both goals, though neither were outright clangers.
What happened next is only really known by McDermott and Federici but the official line was that Federici was both injured and dropped for poor form at the same time. Federici wasn't too happy at being labelled injured posting a picture of his kit in the dressing room that was swiftly removed from his Instagram account. The situation was then inflamed further when his girlfriend posted a series of tweets blasting the club for having 'no loyalty'.
This further enraged some fans who pointed out that Federici was hardly professing unreserved loyalty to the club during an interview with Sky Sports News in the summer of 2011 where he suggested he was keen to get Premier League football as soon as possible. Federici claimed his comments were taken out of context but they still lingered in the minds of some supporters.
Back to this year and how much of his dropping was down to form and how much was injury we'll never know but Federici certainly had strapping on his knee during the opening weeks of the season and he clearly wasn't right. That doesn't excuse his gaffes but no player can play at his best when injured.
Alex McCarthy stepped up in his place and after a slightly shaky start against Tottenham, put in a string of good displays in draws and defeats, though couldn't quite earn a clean sheet or help Reading win. After a few weeks out Federici returned to the subs bench but earned his chance in the 7-5 cup defeat against Arsenal, where he couldn't really be properly faulted for any of the goals and certainly nothing as high profile as his first two games.
McCarthy came back in for the QPR game but an injury sustained in the last seconds of the match has ruled the former Brentford loanee out for the season and has given Federici another chance to establish himself as number one.
Federici certainly made an impressive start results wise on his return, keeping a clean sheet against Norwich and then playing well in our first win of the season against Everton. However, Fedder's error side started to rear it's head up at Wigan as he failed to control Jordi Gomez's 8 yard shot, allowing it to spill and back into the Spanish striker's path to equalise for the home side. He couldn't do much about the second or third but again the seeds of doubt had been placed in the minds of both player and fans.
Federici was fine up at Villa, not at fault for the goal and did make a good save or two but Saturday's game with Manchester United was another that he'll want to put behind him. United's first goal saw Anderson slam the ball high into Federici's near post with some fans saying our 'keeper should have done better. While I'm sure Federici would have liked to have done better, in my opinion the striker is always favourite if he's got time to shoot less than 10 yards out and he won't thank his defence for giving him so much time and space to take that shot. Nothing Federici could do about goals 2,3 or 4 but he nearly gave away number 5 when he miscontrolled a backpass and then tried to Cruyff his way out of trouble only to get his pocket picked by Robin van Persie. While RVP missed, the incident again clearly rattled the Aussie who's kicking seemed rushed and low quality for the final 25 minutes.
So, does the above mean he's a bad keeper not cut out for this level?
I personally don't think so, it's just too small and fragmented a sample size to write him off.
He's clearly a confidence 'keeper and his injury, early dropping and general poor form of the team won't have helped his cause this season. While Alex McCarthy was superb in his seven matches this season, he's still only had a very small sample of games to judge him on and nobody was suggesting McCarthy was a liability after his dribbling and control error against Spurs, or poor performances against Palace or Sheffield United in early 2011.
Goalkeepers are lonely creatures and even at the best of times most managers will tell you it's the hardest position to play. Five great saves can be forgotten with 1 error, while fans will generally only remember Adam Le Fondre for his header against United, rather than the four chances he blew against Wigan and Villa. To have bounced back from a couple of high profile errors in the past shows that Federici has the mental strength to regain his mental strengthand I'm sure as soon as he gets into a rhythm again, he'll be a fine Premier League goalkeeper.
Sometimes you just go on a run of bad luck and bad form, it happens to all players at some point and even the goalkeeping greats will make cock ups and errors from time to time. His mistakes certainly haven't helped our cause but to blame him solely for not beating Stoke or not getting a point or three against Chelsea or Wigan is harsh to say the least.
Since his recall he's been OK.The only goal I'd really fault him for is Wigan's opener but even then, given the conditions and the fact it's a hard shot from such short range, it's not exactly a clanger, just a mistake. Plenty of Reading players are making mistakes this season but few receive such stick as Federici.
With the Australian signing a lucrative new 3-year contract in the summer he's on the books until 2015 so he's got plenty of time to win over the fans. To sell him now would be to sell when his stock is near his lowest so financially it makes little sense to tout him around. Buying a new 'keeper would seem like a waste, unless it's one significantly better long term than McCarthy and given that we've got two other in house alternatives in Stuart Taylor and Mikkel Andersen it seems an extra waste of what few resources we have. More to the point, to drop Federici now would all but destroy his fragile confidence for possibly a long time and again you'd be all but writing him off as a long-term option.
Personally I think McCarthy is going to be the better 'keeper long term, while Andersen also has plenty of potential to challenge both men. However with the club in a precarious position right now and with McCarthy out for the season it helps both club and player long-term and short-term to give Federici the chance to reestablish himself as a top 'keeper.
I'm certainly not suggesting he's been great so far this season but I believe in his potential and I'm happy to put my faith in the Federici who so often helped win us points from 2009-2012 rather than the confidence shy stopper we've seen in two spells this season.
But what do you think? Is Federici cut out for this level or has he shown too much mental frailty to recover? Should Reading cut their losses and ditch him and if so who would you bring in?