29 - Tomasz Kuszczak Profile
The arrival of West Brom keeper Tomasz Kuszczak on-loan at Old Trafford in the summer of 2006 finally left Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson happy with the goalkeeper situation at the club.
After years of trying to replace Peter Schmeichel at the club, the signings of Edwin Van der Sar, Polish internaitonal Kuszczak and Ben Foster have left Ferguson content, even allowing him the luxury of being able to send second choice keeper Tim Howard on a season long loan to fellow Premiership side Everton.
Kuszczak signed for West Brom in July 2004 from Hertha Berlin. He had previously played for a number of clubs in his homeland before moving to the Bundisliga side in July 2001.
His first season at The Hawthorns started off frustratingly, unable to dislodge first-choice keeper Russell Hoult. He did make five first-team appearances, but he did go on to play a vital part in the club's season.
In the penultimate match of the season he came on for the injured Hoult in the 22nd minute of a tense game at Old Trafford against Manchester United. The Baggies managed to snatch a point from the game with a 1-1 draw. Kuszczak made several stunning saves and picking up the Man of the Match.
With Hoult still sidelined, he started the final match of the campaign - at home to Portsmouth - which the Baggies had to win and hope that their relegation opponents lost. With some fine saves, he helped the Baggies to a 2-0 victory which, coupled with results elsewhere, kept them in the Premiership for another season.
However, he could not perform the same heroics in the 2005/06 season and despite more brilliant performances, West Brom were relegated back to the Football League. Remembering that impressive performance at Old Trafford a year earlier, Ferguson attempted to sign Kuszczak as back-up for Van der Sar. His initial attempts were rebuffed by the Baggies, who turned down a ?2.5 million offer. Realising that his departure would be inevitable they eventually agreed to a season long loan deal, with two players moving permanently to The Hawthorns, and a view to a permanent deal.
Since his arrival at Old Trafford, Kuszczak has proved a useful understudy to Van der Sar and is expected to sign a three-year permanent deal when his current loan spell finishes at the end of the season.
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