Filling the boots of Ali Al-Habsi is a daunting task at Reading but we now know that the man given that job is Italian Vito Mannone who’s completed a move to the club from Sunderland for a reported £2m fee. So what are we getting for our money? Our chums at Sunderland blog Roker Report give us their view.
What type of goalkeeper are Reading getting with Mannone?
I don't mean to disappoint you but he's just not that great. He suffers immensely with his confidence and I'm not entirely sure what he's supposed to be good at. I wouldn't say he was particularly commanding, he isn't quick and his distribution is absolutely atrocious. He's a decent shot stopper and when his head is up he'll pull off some fantastic saves, but Vito's problem is that he's wholly inconsistent and doesn't instill confidence in the rest of his team, which I'd suggest is perhaps the most vital characteristic of any good goalkeeper.
I am, of course, judging Mannone based on what I have seen from him in the Premier League. Who knows, he might be a better fit in the Championship.
To what extent was he to blame for an awful defensive record last season?
Not a great deal in all honesty, but that's because he was second in command behind Jordan Pickford - who, in fairness, had very little to do with our poor defensive record either. I suppose that Pickford's emergence at Sunderland served to show our supporters just how poor Mannone actually is. You think Mannone is alright, and then this lad comes along with such an abundance of ability and it highlights the major flaws in Mannone's game, which is perhaps why it may appear that I'm judging him harshly.
Stam likes to have his keepers comfortable on the ball and passing it out, do you think Vito will fit the bill?
I'm not exaggerating when I say this, but Mannone's kicking is probably the worst facet of his game and I've never seen a Sunderland goalkeeper with worse distribution.
If you're expecting him to be able to play out from the back you'll end up sorely disappointed.
As I said before, when you watch a player like Pickford - with the ability to kick the ball and put it on a sixpence, 80 yards up the pitch - and then go to Mannone, who struggled to get the ball over the half-way line, you come to realise just how poor his technical ability really is.
Were you sad to see him go?
Sort of. Contrary to what you may believe having read all of this, I think Mannone is a nice guy and he certainly had an affinity with our supporters, mainly due to his heroics in the 2013/2014 campaign, a season where we escaped relegation in the most obscene fashion whilst also taking in a Cup final at Wembley. Mannone's saves in the semi-final second leg penalty shoot-out at Old Trafford sent us through and those memories from that night will stay with me forever.
The time for him to leave was just right, though. That 2013/2014 season aside, I've been unconvinced by Mannone in the main and his last three years at Sunderland have been sketchy. His performance in our 8-0 drubbing away at Southampton in 2014 was probably the worst display of goalkeeping that I've ever seen, and he hasn't been able to recover since.
I'm sad that we're losing such a decent person, but in truth I'm just glad that, in a footballing sense, we're now afforded the chance to replace him with someone better.