Football: Coton's clinic for depressed keepers

TONY COTON has revealed he has become an agony aunt as well as a goalkeeping coach at Manchester United because of the cut-throat competition for a first-team place.

Coton claims he spends almost as much time consoling United's three goalkeepers - Mark Bosnich, Raimond van der Gouw and Massimo Taibi - as he does coaching them.

At least one of the trio is always going to be disappointed every time United play and it has become Coton's job to lift the spirits of the unlucky one.

Coton claims, though, that with three top-class goalkeepers United will never be caught out between the sticks. The former Manchester City keeper said: "It's not healthy having three senior keepers to a certain extent.

"It's good for the club because you know if anyone gets an injury, we have a senior keeper to step in and if anything happens to him you still have another senior keeper.

"But you're always in the situation where you are putting your arm around one of them, certainly for the League games, and saying keep your head up, keep working, you're doing well, and so on.

"It's not an ideal situation from my point of view because you are a bit of a Clare Rayner, Marje Poops and goalkeeping coach rolled into one."

Coton's angst will only get worse when the Champions' League resumes in March because Taibi will finally be eligible to play, which means that one of the trio will have to suffer the grief they currently endure in the Premiership.

Meanwhile Luke Chadwick has become the latest Old Trafford youngster to go on loan at Royal Antwerp. The 19-year-old midfielder has joined United's feeder club until the end of the season.

Chadwick joins his fellow juniors Kirk Hilton and George Clegg at Antwerp and should make his debut when the Belgian Second Division side resume action following their winter break.

Chadwick, who has already been called up for the England Under-21 side, is regarded as one of the best of the new crop of players at Old Trafford. He made his senior debut in the Worthington Cup defeat at Aston Villa in October.