Last updated : 06 January 2005 By editor

‘Barcelona, 26th May 1999, is a place and time that will be forever etched in the history of Manchester United. The formal version of events record that evening as the time when the club clinched an historic treble. The alternative reading, however, is that it also marked the start of a goalkeeping crisis that took another twist when Roy Carroll threw Pedro Mendes’s long-range chip into his own net against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday evening.

‘Captain for the night in the absence of Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel lifted the European Cup in his final game for the club. Since then, Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager, has given six goalkeepers the chance to claim the place as their own. Each has failed to convince.

‘Carroll is the most recent to find the pressures of the job play havoc with normally reliable reflexes and could find himself with plenty of time to ponder the future if, as seems likely, he returns to the substitutes’ bench. Thanks to the match officials, Carroll’s gaffe did not lead to a goal. Yet on a personal level, it may prove much more expensive.

‘Ferguson’s problems began when his first attempt to replace Schmeichel, Mark Bosnich, wrote off his own hopes by turning up late for his first training session. Since then Massimo Taibi, Fabien Barthez, and Ricardo, as well as Carroll and Howard, have been tried with varying degrees of success.’