SAVING ACCOUNT - PART TWO

Posted on: Sun 27 May 2012

In the first part of his assessment of the season, Chelsea's goalkeeper coach Christophe Lollichon spoke about Petr Cech. Now it is the turn of others…

It was a clean sweep for Chelsea-owned goalkeepers when it came to handing out European club trophies at the end of the season.

Preceding Petr Cech getting his gloves on the 'cup with the big ears', Thibaut Courtois, the 20-year-old signed last summer who spent the season on loan at Atletico Madrid, ended up winning the Europa League.

As loans go it worked out perfectly. There would have been little point in the Belgian international who joined from Genk staying in London and playing second fiddle to Cech at this stage in his development.

Instead he had little difficulty in establishing himself as no.1 between the posts for the Spanish club who had lost David De Gea to Manchester United. He played 48 games and as well as the European triumph in which Courtois kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win, Atletico finished fifth in Spain's Primera Liga.

'It is a good time for the Chelsea goalkeepers,' says Chelsea's goalkeeper coach Cristophe Lollichon with a smile.

'I went to Bucharest to see the Europa League Final and Thibaut was very efficient, very calm,' he reports.

Courtois

'It was a fantastic opportunity for us to put him on loan at 19 years old as no.1 at a famous and important club in Spain. It was interesting for him to feel the pressure in Madrid because I went there four of five times and the pressure is incredible.

'But I am not surprised that in every situation Thibaut stayed very calm and the Europa League Final was very concentrated because I remember the play-off final at the end of last season in Belgium.

'There he played against Standard Liege and it was a big, big game for Genk to be champions after a long time and he was calm. The last 15 minutes he made three fantastic saves and this edge is fantastic. During the Europa League Final in Bucharest he was very efficient, and made two big saves.

'It was a very good season and Atletico want to keep him for next season. I'm not sure if that will happen yet but it would be a good choice for him.'

Closer at Stamford Bridge, back-up to Cech was again provided by Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario.

The latter's two appearances were back in August, both wins, and he has extended his contract to cover next season.

'I am very happy with that because he is a perfect professional to help the number one and number two,' says Lollichon.

'Every day he arrives happy to train and be with the other keepers, and happy to discuss the game and training and he helped me sometimes with training, and it was very rich.'

'Ross is not in an easy position when you have Petr Cech at no.1 but he stayed all the time concentrated and ready to help.'

Turnbull, who was the preferred no.2, played three Carling Cup games and the final two league games of the season when Cech rested ahead of Munich.

'Except for the mistake against Liverpool at Anfield, and it was the fourth goal and there were a lot of mistakes before it, Ross was one of the best players we had on the pitch that game,' says Lollichon.

'He did a good performance with good mentality and with Hilario I am very happy to have these goalkeepers.'

There was a third Chelsea goalie who lifted silverware in 2012. Jamal Blackman was the Under 18s' keeper throughout the run to winning the FA Youth Cup, frequently catching the eye including during a penalty shoot-out win at Norwich.

'Step by step his team ended in the Final with difficult games and in the shoot-out Jamal was decisive,' notes Blackman, 'because he has a fantastic wing span. But the youth team is a good team and Jamal did some good performances.

Blackman

'It was not easy for him because he trained with the first team and sometimes with the reserves and sometimes with the youth team.

'But it was a good season for learning and thinking about the route he has to take. For Jamal next season should be very important because now he is just reserve team and first team.That is easier for him to have a good focus and force his personality forward because if you want to be a be a very good keeper you have to be strong in your mind and your body.'