Northern Ireland’s veteran goalkeeper Maik Taylor signed for Leeds United today, providing Simon Grayson with much needed cover following the injury Andy Lonergan sustained last month and the subsequent meltdown of his understudy, Paul Rachubka.

In total, there are now five goalkeepers at Elland Road including young Alex Cairns and on loan Alex McCarthy who is likely to start in goal for the visit of Barnsley this Saturday after an impressive performance in the 2-1 win over Burnley at the weekend.

At 40 years young, Taylor’s age may be of some concern to fans, but his wealth of experience could be just what The Whites need. The Irish international is no stranger to a promotion fight and was a key figure in the Fulham side that went from League One to the Premier League in three seasons (1998-2001).

Taylor went on to play for Birmingham City in the Premiership where he was voted the EPL Fans’ Goalkeeper of the Year 2003-04.

Even if Taylor never starts a game for Leeds United, his presence at the club is worth the transfer alone. Andy Lonergan and Alex Cairns could learn a lot from such an experienced professional, but so too could the rest of the team – when you’re aiming for promotion, having players around that have been there and know how to handle the pressure can be a huge bonus.

From a fans perspective, looking down at the bench and seeing Maik Taylor in the seat Paul Rachubka once kept warm will be a comforting sight.

  • The ‘Even if Taylor never starts a game for Leeds United’ paragraph is spot on in my opinion. In my perfect football team you’d have your first choice keeper, a promising youngster, and an experienced old codger for the reasons you have given.

  • Carl Hamilton

    Northern Irish international not Irish!

    Great addition to the squad, as a Leeds fan from Northern Ireland i have seen Maik play alot, very solid goalkeeper with a wealth of experience!

    MOT

  • Gryff

    Totally agree. Experienced at the top level, and an adequate backup to McCarthy and then Lonergan.

    If he’s any better, we can see about a year’s deal. If we have better options then we can move in January.

    Good signing given our predicament.

  • Matt wright the white!

    Bang on article, well said

  • Colin

    Sorry, but this is a TERRIBLE signing. You could have called the article ‘Leeds sign unemployed 40 year old.’

    I’ll tell you why it’s bad:

    1) Maik Taylor was unemployed. He was not wanted by any professional football team.

    2) He’s 40. I don’t care how good HE WAS. He isn’t any good now. That’s why Birmingham City released him. He may be able to pass on his words of wisdom, but he can’t show Alex Cains how to make a quick reaction save like McCarthy did as his near post against Burnley, because he can’t move that quickly.

    3) What message does this give to Alex Cairns? The message is, a) you’re not good enough and b) an unemployed out of work 40 year old is better than you. We’ve given plenty of opportunities to young or inexperienced players and it’s come up trumps. Think Alan Smith, Milner, Beckford, Howson. None of them were great at the start but they became great. Hey, I seem to remember us playing a 19 year old keeper called Paul Robinson. He wasn’t so bad was he?

    4) Maik Taylor has been signed as a Number 2 – he’s not a threat to Lonergan. So there’s no pressure on Lonergan to keep himself sharp because he’s got no competition. There’s no pressure on Lonergan at all.

    5) There’s no reason for Maik Taylor to push himself and get match fit, because he’s not expected to topple Lonergan, so Taylor has no incentive either.

    6) The last time we signed an experienced player who had shown real quality in the past and a player who would add experience to the team was Michael Brown. Need I say more?

    In conclusion, if you want Maik Taylor to share his wisdom, then fine. But hire him as a GK coach and not as a player. Coaches don’t get paid what players do. I’m pretty sure that Taylor was sat on his arse watching Loose Women before Grayson called. His time has gone. His experience does not mean that he deserves to get signed up as a Leeds player.

    If you want to develop Cairns, fine, but I’d suggest, keep Cairns as Number 2 and ask Nigel Martyn to come along to Thorp Arch and train with him one day a week, and offer Nigel Martyn £1000 each week for him to give to his own charity. Would Nigel Martyn turn it down? Doubt it? Would he learn more from Nigel Martyn than Maik Taylor on £5,000 a week or whatever we’re paying him? Definitely.

    Here’s a crazy idea – Rather than praise Grayson and the Leeds board, why not berate them?

    If I was manager of LUFC, I would think ‘Hold on, this McCarthy guy ain’t that bad. Reading don’t play him, so I’ll badger Bates and ask for some money either for a season long loan or £1m and tell Reading, “You don’t rate him, but I do” and see what they say.’

    I’d be grabbing my arms around the England Under 21 goalkeeper and saying ‘Bollocks to Reading, they don’t care about you. Come to Leeds and fight for your place with Lonergan. If you’re better than him, you play. Leeds are going places, and so are you. Get on board at LUFC and I’ll give you at least what you’re on at Reading.’

    That would make Lonergan pull his dislocated finger out and play and you’d see McCarthy play like he’s never done before.

    We’ve got a serious opportunity to get an England Under 21 international on our books. Grayson’s throwing that away and signing a 40 year old keeper that no-one else wants.

    The signing of Maik Taylor is absurd. And it makes us look, quite rightly, like a joke outfit. The fact is, we’re the only Championship club signing a 40 year old player who used to be okay. Even Birmingham in the PL wouldn’t play him and didn’t want him in the Championship, but Grayson does. Go figure?

    • Dje

      It’s rare that I disagree with you Colin, but I do regarding Taylor. I think you forget that he is only here for two months – not two years. That’s two months of cover before Rachubka returns as No.2 or we bring in another keeper for the rest of the season (possibly McCarthy, who knows). The bigger critique is why Grayson brought in Rachubka as such a weak No.2 when it is clear to see that he could never dislodge Lonergen as No.1, however poorly he played.

      As to Taylor’s experience and advice to youngsters, you cannot teach the save that McCarthy pulled off by showing it, it is a reflex save. What you can teach is how to be alert, how to look at the opposition shaping up to shoot, how to decide when it is best to stay a moment and move your feet or to fling yourself horizontally (had McCarthy chosen solely the latter he would not have saved that near post shot), and how to consider the second phase of the save – ie. had the ball spilled, had, it hit the post etc. If Taylor is with us only two months then I reckon that is a great mount of time to ween him dry of his football knowledge and experience, rather than slowly tap it out over a prolonged two year contract.

      Finally, if you care for Cairn’s so much, then what message does it send when you bring in a lad barely older than him form Reading the first chance he might get a sniff at action in the first team?

      Personally I think we have played McCarthy well to-date. We’ve given him games, we’ve praised him, we’ve welcomed him with bigger crowds and possibly better facilities than there are at Reading (possibly not these days, too!) and yet haven’t made any promises of first team football that we aren’t likely to keep. Come the end of the January transfer window and if we are in the top four, and Reading are about 15th in the league then that is the time to poach him – not to try and do it now.

      • number1inyorkshire

        unless we go up we have no chance of signing him he is very well thought of at reading and if he was for sale we would have a fight from prem clubs .

        i recon 2-3 million is what they would want too ..

        lonegan is gonna be NO1 he has to be he is ours for a start and has done ok he will not sit on the bench whilst a younger ,loan keeper plays in front of him not a chance

        • Dje

          @number1inyorkshire

          To be honest, I don;t think we do have a chance of signing him as we don’t do £2-3 million transfers, and I’m not sure we necessarily would do if we were promoted either. That said, a top-rated reserve keeper is not a priority and more a luxury for the next couple of matches – as long as Lonergen recovers. No team ever won anything down to one single player (well, perhaps Maradona at Napoli), and I’m sure you shouldn’t be looking to your keeper to do so!!

  • number1inyorkshire

    the fact is that we have signed him to play second fiddle to whoever is number 1 .
    we have replaced rachubka who some people said was crap but to honest had a good pre season ,,but could have warmed the bench like Taylor will .this signing makes no sense really alright if we needed a 1st choice keeper then ok .but in real terms keepers get injured rarely so rachubka could have stayed ..

    This is where we move on to grayson and O’Brien he is too quick to publicly slate his players , and on another post earlier i said the good mangers would never do that ever ,
    I think that grayson and O’Brien have clearly had a fall out and its escalated to O’Brien thinking i have no future here so better force something before deadline day .
    so now barring terminating his contract O’Brien is left at leeds til January at least on wages ,and no chance of playing according to grayson .
    now i am not saying sack grayson but HE NEEDS TO GROW UP ,if he is to become a great manager he needs to do his player related stuff away from the media ,
    they are good at keeping signings from us ,the same should be done with discipline etc ..

    • Gryff

      Yeah, he could warm a bench. Unfortunately when it came to playing in goal he looked more like a 12th man for the oppo than a keeper.

      Compare that to Maik Taylor. He spent over half a decade as first choice in the Premiership and plays regularly against world class opposition as NI keeper. He’s past it but he’s still going to save us points straight off compared to Rachubka.

      Only other option is pay stupid amounts for McCarthy to sit on a bench, on the off chance Lonergan gets injured again.

      • number1inyorkshire

        thats the point you are saying that lonegans not gonna get injured again so taylor will not play .therefore neither will rachubka so he could have gone on bench .he had a bad day against blackpool ,but personally i think right now he is better than taylor .

        people have said on here recently that the players have been above critisicm but thats not been the case rachubka ,obrien and others have been vilified on here .but when your manager does it your fair game

        • Gryff

          @number1inyorkshire No, I am saying Lonergan is not likely to get injured again. But it all comes down to risk. If Lonergan gets injured, it would be better to have a keeper who isn’t going to have a nervous breakdown on the pitch.

          Is a little bit of cash saved worth the risk of dropping a few points and having to shelve out like we did for McCarthy?

          Maik Taylor has done well at the top level, Rachubka did alright in the Championship and has since entirely lost it mentally. It wasn’t just against Blackpool, you obviously don’t remember the way we almost threw it away against 10-man Brighton.

          If you look back at the comments here circa start of the window I was one of a minority who defended Rachubka. But he’s a failed signing pure and simple.

        • TSS

          @Gryff@number1inyorkshire Rachubka was solid pre-season, I can only reason that his problems are purely psychological, but that could be more difficult to overcome than a lack of fitness, or any other problems that can effect pro athletes.

          I think the loan move is in lieu of a permanent transfer personally. I fail to see how he can stay at the club after what has happened. There’s no way he’ll want to walk out onto the pitch in a Leeds shirt ever again because he’ll know he’s lost the confidence of fans, players and the manager and that one little error will escalate quickly.

          The club have been on the PR offensive since this all started, trying to make out they still have faith in Rachubka, but I don’t think that’s actually the case – I think they just need it to look like that so they can find a suitor.

        • number1inyorkshire

          @TSS@Gryff i feel you are right he will stay at tranmere or some where else free transfer he cost nowt so !!

          The reason in my opinion why he cant stay though is not because of his poor performances ,we had plenty of them over the years from players on a lot more money than him and a higher level, is because of what grayson did with him .

          opinions differ about taking him off etc ,but to talk about it to the press afterwards was wrong .same with obrien .

          He is still being paid and i bet is a top earner at leeds and is unplayable according to grayson .now there is plenty of known disputes with players /managers and the player gets games ,the same has to be done with o’brien .there are very very few player s leave football clubs by sacking the same can not be said about managers

  • Dje

    I agree with you number1inyorkshire re: O’Brien. Yet again, terribly managed and it has hurt the club more than it has the aimed target. My worry now is that we will have a dissenting voice in O’Brien still connected with the club and I can see a very real scenario when we have to either bring him back into the squad or Grayson looks stupid for mouthing off about O’Brien and yet having neither got rid of him or replaced him when he could have (ie. until 5pm yesterday).

    As central defenders, with Bruce now out on loan, we currently have:

    Kisnorbo
    Lees
    Bromby
    O’Dea

    + O’Brien

    Suspensions, injuries, and another fall out with Grayson and we really might need O’Brien in some capacity. To play Connolly, or Howson or Brown at centre back just to spite O’Brien is going to be absurd, so I can;t see what good has come of this needless out-burst to-date.

    • Gryff

      What I find worse is that we have no depth at full-back level either.

      At rightback we have Connolly, and Lees can deputise if he’s not needed at centre-back.
      At leftback we have White, and O’Dea can deputise if HE’s not needed at centre-back. Until Jan we have Pugh but he’s much better as Winger or wingback than fullback.
      At centre-back we have four, two of whom we might need out wide at any one time.

      Kisnorbo has had bad trouble with injury, Bromby got dropped completely for ages at L1 level – why’s he going to be significantly better at Championshp level?

      It’s just not convincing. If we had 6 lads in their prime who were well known for not getting injured maybe it’d be alright. And 6 centre-backs was a bit stupid before. But now we’ve 4 centre-backs which exacerbates the lack of depth in the fullback position.

  • TSS

    I did say he was a Northern Ireland international at the start, surely “Irish” is an appropriate term for both?

  • lar

    another great signing at the tender young age of 40.what happens if he turns out to be another nightmare and donkey.do the leeds united staff actually go and look at these players.simons choice of players is very questionable,rachubka,bessone,paynter,brown,bromby,collins,connelley,obrien,is there more.look how long it took grayson to take rachubka off or out of the squad.bruce out on loan when he should held in the squad.whats happened beechio.its the whole set up at leeds.lot of fans forget its been going on for the last 3 seasons.well still 5th…just have to wait and see.

    • Gryff

      Well the good news is if he turns out to be a nightmare he’ll be out of contract in approx five weeks…