New Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe will need to impress in his first few games if he stands a chance of winning over the blue and white faithful.
The 28-year-old fringe Socceroo surely has the CV to be a top A-League custodian, but the big question is whether or not the Victory fans will get behind him.
The club’s supporters have certainly been a fickle lot when it comes to approving of each goalkeeper to don the Victory shirt. Only two keepers, Michael Theo (nee Theoklitos) and Mitchell Langerak, have been given a clear thumbs up by the Victory’s fans.
Ante Covic also passed the tough test last season, but perhaps to a lesser, and more brief, extent.
On the other hand, the likes of Glen Moss and Michael Petkovic were the victims of intense scorn, as supporters sought to name scapegoats for a series of unacceptable defensive displays.
The issue, it seems, is that poor first impressions of a goalkeeper almost certainly last with Melbourne Victory fans.
If we look at the beginnings of Moss’s and Petkovic’s brief Victory careers, we find that they both shipped five goals in their first two games.
Having said that, one could argue that the goalkeepers were not to blame for conceding those goals.
Moss’s debut was a 2-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners on the sixth of August, 2009. Matt Simon lashed the ball into the top left corner at point-blank range after a set piece scramble, and this was followed by a Michael McGlinchey goal which took a wicked deflection.
His next game was a 3-3 draw with the Brisbane Roar which started with a Danny Tiatto rocket into the right side netting. Moss was also beaten by a Sergio van Dijk penalty and a great curling strike into the bottom right corner from Henrique. Brisbane’s goals could only have been stopped by truly outstanding saves.
Petkovic’s debut was another 3-3 draw for the Victory, this time against Sydney on the seventh of August, 2010.
Alex Brosque scored an easy opener after Kevin Muscat was caught in possession while dawdling in the box. This was followed by an impressive looping header goal from Terry McFlynn after young Victory fullback Evan Berger fluffed a simple clearance in the box.
The final goal came from a brilliant Shannon Cole free kick. Petkovic got a glove to the shot, but saw it too late to make any meaningful contact.
Petkovic’s next match was a 2-0 loss to Perth, where he was indeed to blame for coming off his line and missing the ball from a corner – it was slotted in to the net by Glory legend Jamie Harnwell. The second goal was not so much his fault, as Mile Sterjovski had ample time and space to fire a great shot inside the near post.
Despite the fact that both keepers were near blameless in their opening games, the Victory fans quickly took to social media to vent their disappointment in the new men behind the sticks.
This, coupled with the fans’ fierce loyalty and affection for Theo and Langerak (who were the first choices before Moss and Petkovic respectively), meant Moss and Petkovic would never get much love from the stands, even if they proceeded to perform impressively.
So Coe has a tough task ahead of him, especially considering the fact that Covic’s impressive form last season led him to win the Victory Player’s Player of the Year Award.
But if Coe can catch the fans’ eyes early, for the right reasons, they will surely bestow their affection upon him, and the club may have yet another fan favourite between the sticks.