Ryan's toughest test yet, says supporter Schwarzer

Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan is facing "the biggest challenge" of his career to deliver in the Premier League, according to Socceroos great Mark Schwarzer.

Mat Ryan

Mat Ryan in action for Brighton Source: Getty Images

The legendary gloveman distinguished himself during an EPL career which spanned 20 years and brought him 514 appearances for four clubs - Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea and Leicester.

Ryan, 25, is just embarking on his maiden EPL voyage with newly-promoted Brighton and Hove Albion, who begin their campaign at home to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City on Sunday (AEST).

It's looming as a brutal baptism for Ryan but he will have to adapt at warp speed, says Schwarzer, who is all too aware of the pitfalls and potential peaks that lie ahead.

"It's a massive challenge for Maty, in my view the biggest of his career," declared Schwarzer, who will be at the Amex Stadium in person in his role as a pundit with Optus Sport.

"The way the EPL is played, there's a lot of attention on goalkeepers and strikers.

"He's going to come under a lot of pressure, and at 6ft 1ins,  he's probably not renowned for his aerial ability.

"Clubs will know that pretty quickly and he will come under a lot of pressure.

"It's something he will have to adapt to and get used to."

Signed from Valencia by coach Chris Hughton as the new number one in place of the departed Dave Stockdale, the Seagulls have invested heavily in the keeper, whose performances on loan at Genk last season sealed the deal.

"While La Liga is a fantastic league, it still doesn't attract the attention of the Premier league with every game shown live around the world," said Schwarzer.

"Every single aspect of your game is analyzed and criticized in England, and also praised when things go well."

Schwarzer believes Ryan has the qualities to make himself indispensable on the south coast.

"Maty's an incredible athlete, he's super fit, he's super agile and he's super quick," he said. "He's also good with his feet and his distribution is excellent.

"He did get caught at the Confederations Cup a couple of times being too aggressive, and that's where he is going to have to find that balance.

"It can be a very fine line and you can easily get punished, whether it's at international level or in the Premier League.

"So there might be a little bit of an adjustment there for him."

While Schwarzer's attributes earned him universal approval during his playing days, he sees Ryan as the personification of a new generation.

"He's a sweeper-keeper, and is effectively an outfield player," he said.

"It's difficult to play that way ... and it's a huge test for Maty, especially if Brighton are going to play out from the back most of the time.

"David Stockdale was one to hoof it long last season, but I am sure bringing Matty in they are looking at playing more out from the back.

"Playing that way, it's inevitable you are going to make more mistakes because you're putting yourself out there, and are involved more.

"That's quite normal. The manager will be backing the way Maty plays and will understand he will put himself in situations where he will come under more pressure.

"That's part and parcel of it. The key is eliminate as many mistakes as possible, and if he does that he will do really well."

Schwarzer believes Ryan must keep his "excitement and adrenaline" under control to squeeze every last drop from his talent.

"He's at a new club with a bit of a transfer fee on him and a lot of expectations," he said.

"He hasn't played as much football as he'd have liked in the last couple of years and may feel he has a point to prove.

"There will be so much going through his head

"He just has to go in there as relaxed as possible, and try to play his own game."

Schwarzer is prepared to offer Ryan any tips and advice he can as the season unfolds.

"I haven't spoken to him throughout the [northern] summer yet but I will see him at the weekend and I will send him a message beforehand wishing all the best."

Schwarzer has been impressed by Ryan's resilience in refusing to let his fall down the pecking order at Valencia derail his determination to succeed.

"I like the fact that just like [fellow Socceroo and EPL debutant] Aaron Mooy, Maty has had some kicks in the teeth while in Europe but has bounced back," he said. "They have both been really persistent.

"Yes, Aaron went back to Australia and played a couple of years there but his ambition was to come back here and play at the highest level.

"Maty is exactly the same. After his time at Bruges he struggled to get consistency at Valencia.

"He could easily have gone back to Australia and started all over again but he stuck at it and has reaped the rewards of going out on loan in the second half of last season.

"I have admiration for both of them, that sort of determination is something you don't see enough anymore from Australian players coming overseas."

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5 min read
Published 11 August 2017 at 8:41am
By Dave Lewis