THE performance of young goalkeeper Michael Cooper in Tuesday’s late defeat to Chelsea in the Leasing.com Trophy was both a positive for the future and some personal redemption for the past.
Coops endured a bruising night exactly a year ago when the same opponents scored five past him in the Trophy last season but he was on top form in this latest meeting, and very unlucky to concede a last-minute goal to Jon Russell’s excellent finish.
In terms of shot-stopping, the Argyle Academy graduate is up there with the best but, like current first-team regular Alex Palmer, he is a custodian who must continue to work hard on his foot skills to play the progressive football adopted by manager Ryan Lowe.
“I didn’t know about the game last season because that’s irrelevant for us, whether he had a good game or a bad game,” said Ryan.
“Coops has been terrific in training, he’s been playing the way we want him to play and in the 11v11, good with possession and patterns of play. He deserved a chance and he’s done alright. He can do better with his feet but he made some good saves, and he’s there to get some game-time.
“He’s a terrific goalkeeper and could probably play at the highest level with his shot-stopping. Sometimes, it’s decision-making and whether to take a touch out of his feet.
“It’s hard for Coops because most ‘keepers are just taught to kick it and catch it. He’s learning every single day, like Alex, the way I want to play. Alex has been terrific when he’s played but can be better, and same with Michael Cooper.”