It is the football equivalent of the flap of a butterfly’s wings causing an earthquake elsewhere. But in this case it was the flap of a goalkeeper’s arms – Adam Bogdan’s to be precise.
The Liverpool No 2’s inept attempt to deal with Lee Holmes’ corner in Friday night’s 2-2 FA Cup draw with Exeter City has caused an earthquake in Aberdeen – and a significant tremor in Falkirk.
Derek McInnes has the most obvious problem as he deals with the gap left by Jurgen Klopp’s decision, surely based on Bogdan’s unimpressive performance on Friday, to recall Danny Ward from his loan period at Aberdeen.
Many put two and two together, presuming McInnes would then turn to Falkirk, where Aberdeen reserve keeper Danny Rogers is doing so well on loan.
The threatened chain reaction left Peter Houston, the Falkirk manager, facing the possibility he could be a goalkeeper down as he contemplates a crucial few weeks. The news put a dampener on the announcement that Houston has picked up the Ladbrokes Championship manager of the month award for December. Rogers, meanwhile, has won the player of the month award, conveniently.
Prior to the further postponement of Falkirk’s fourth-round Scottish Cup match against Dundee, which was due to be played tonightand will now be played on 26 January, it meant reporters could quiz the pair of them yesterday, just hours after it emerged Aberdeen – and possibly Falkirk – have had a goalkeeper crisis thrust upon them. It was also the chance to resuscitate that much-overused phrase: Houston, we have a problem.
Except the Falkirk manager didn’t look particularly careworn. Goalkeeper crisis or not, his team are set fair in the Championship after a splendid few weeks, hence the manager’s latest award.
Although Falkirk’s unbeaten run stretches back to October, Houston has been recognised, specifically, for the last five matches, which included a draw and a win against title rivals Hibs and Rangers, respectively. His side are second in the league on goal difference and face Hibs again on Sunday in a televised clash.
But his immediate priority was to consider Rogers’ fate following weekend developments, .but not because Falkirk have a cast-iron agreement already in place to extend Rogers’ loan period until the end of the season, which Houston revealed is the case. Rather, he expects McInnes will look elsewhere for an experience goalkeeper to replace Ward, while leaving Rogers to develop in the Falkirk first team.
“The situation quite clearly is that, if we don’t want to send Danny back, then we don’t need to,” he said, after sportingly agreeing to get straight to the burning issue – even if he also had an award to discuss.
“We have a legal agreement and papers lodged. I speak regularly with Derek regarding Danny’s performances and he gave it the okay two weeks ago for us to continue our loan agreement.
“If Danny Rogers was to go back to Aberdeen then it would be on our say-so but I’ve got a great relationship with Derek and I don’t want to sour that. They were good enough to give us Danny. He’s doing exceptionally well and I know Derek wants Danny to get first-team football at the sharp end with Falkirk.”
Houston is not prepared to play hardball, he stressed. Even though Falkirk are within their rights to say to Aberdeen sorry, Rogers is our man until the end of the campaign, Houston is ready to put his team’s best interests to one side if it means maintaining a good relationship with the Pittodrie club, from whom they were also loaned full-back Joe Shaughnessy last season.
“I don’t think you get anywhere playing hardball,” said Houston. “There might be a time when I want to go back to Derek McInnes and get one of his outfield players. I could be the rotten guy here but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”
A quiet weekend in which Rogers saw no action – Falkirk’s game at Dundee was called off on Saturday morning – was, the keeper revealed, suddenly disturbed by the continual pinging of his phone. He was being willed back to Aberdeen by some, and told to stay put by others.
“I was getting a couple of texts on my phone and then Twitter blew up,” Rogers smiled. “It was Aberdeen and Falkirk fans. Aberdeen fans were sending me train times back to Aberdeen and the Falkirk fans were saying: ‘He’s going nowhere!’ ”
Although Aberdeen are in the process of offering him a new deal, Rogers sounded as though he would prefer to remain, for the time being, at Falkirk, where he is playing regularly and well.
“We’ve got such a big month,” he said. “We’ve got Dundee. Hibs, Livi and Rangers, so it’s massive. It will more than likely decide whether we’re going to be in the promotion race as well.”