Crawley: Mat Ryan could walk into any European team
Central Coast goalkeeping coach John Crawley says the inexperienced Australian line-up will be in safe hands with Ryan at the back.
Crawley worked with the young gloveman for nearly a decade, through the ranks of Blacktown City and then the Mariners.
And he believes his former protégé should get the nod as first-choice custodian in Brazil ahead of Mitch Langerak, Eugene Galekovic and Mark Birighitti.
“I worked with him since he was about 14 years of age,” Crawley said. “Over the years he’s developed into a fantastic goalkeeper.
“I think his performances to date show he is deserving of that spot.
“I think compared to the other goalkeepers he certainly has an edge.
“As good a shot-stopper, as good a goalkeeper as Langerak is, I think it’s safe to say that Matty has got him with his feet and that could be the edge going into a major competition.
“Eugene Galekovic - you can see over the last few years he’s really developed his game too, with his left and right foot.
“I think that’s essential playing at international level that you can use both feet. You’re limited if you can’t.”
After making his Socceroo debut in 2012, Ryan has notched up four clean sheets from six games with the national team.
Crawley believes Australia’s coach Ange Postecoglou will look to take advantage of the keeper’s offensive game at the World Cup.
He added: “(Ryan) reads the game well, he’s an attacking-type goalkeeper, he’s always on the front foot and his starting positions are very bold and he takes chances.
“I think the modern day goalkeeper takes a few chances, they’re not stuck on the line and just shot-stoppers any more.
“He’s the kind of kid that gets off his line, commands his back four very well and he’s got that added offensive game where he clears balls with both left and right foot and play balls off touches.
“He can find people in the middle of the park better than a fullback, better than any midfielder could.
“That’s an element to his game that obviously Ange is looking to utilize, and it’s a weapon - that competence on the ball – behind whatever defence he’s going to play in the World Cup.”
Last year Ryan left the Mariners for Club Brugge and recently took out the Belgium Pro League’s Goalkeeper of the Year award.
His performances have already attracted interest from other leagues and Crawley believes Ryan could handle the step up.
“He’s got a wide skill set and I think he could walk into any European team,” he said.
“Given that he’s actually proven that he can do it in Belgium, I reckon a competition like the Spanish competition, like the Italian competition – they’re not known for having big six-foot-three, six-foot-four shot-stoppers.
“The continental game is his kind of game I guess – it would suit him down to the ground.
“They play a certain style of football. A little bit more slow in build-up, compared to a ruthless English Premier League which is just fast and sometimes very physical.”
Ryan made his A-League debut for the Mariners as an 18-year old and over three seasons picked up a swag of awards as well as claiming a grand final win in 2013.
“We didn’t really know how good he was until he stepped up and showed us,” Crawley said.
“There was a chance for him to show us what he had and he certainly took it with both hands. It was just a matter of when he was going to get the opportunity.
“I thought he was great in the A-League… he was exceptional and he had no problem saying after he was done that he was ready for something bigger.”