Robbin Ruiter on Millwall howlers, Simon Grayson and why he can bounce back under Chris Coleman

Robbin Ruiter in action against Aston Villa.
Robbin Ruiter in action against Aston Villa.
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“I’ve been a goalkeeper all my life. I’ve never made a mistake like that, to be honest. I don’t really know what happened, I was surprised myself.”

Robbin Ruiter is, of course, talking about that free-kick from George Saville, that found its way into the net on a surreal afternoon at the Stadium of Light.

He makes no attempt to play down the error and admits the reaction from fans was only to be expected.

To those on the outside, Ruiter’s nightmare and that of his opposite number Jordan Archer was comic gold.

Footage of the Sky Sports Soccer Saturday panel in stitches went viral, and there were few ‘banter’ accounts on social media that didn’t take advantage of the bloopers reel.

On Wearside, it was the low point of a season where goalkeeping has been a major issue.

Ruiter has impressed at times, but neither he or Jason Steele has nailed down the number one spot, the constant rotation symbolic at a club where the slide has shown no signs of halting.

Many would have expected another change after the Millwall game, but a superb reflex save in the second half convinced Coleman to stick with Ruiter.

At Burton, the elusive clean sheet arrived. Ruiter hopes that ‘unbelievably good’ feeling is a turning point.

“The manager had faith in me,” he said.

“The main thing from the manager is that I showed him I can deal with the mistakes, I showed him in that second half against Millwall.

“I came for crosses, made important saves second half, and I think that was one of the main reasons he showed faith in me for Villa.

“It has been a really difficult situation [this season]. The changes between Steeley and me were not good for either of us.

“As a goalkeeper you want the confidence of the manager and we didn’t really know what was what.

“One week I played really well, and then the next game I was on the bench, and the same thing happened to Steeley.

“You mentioned my mistake against Millwall and everybody has written and spoken about it, but I think I stood up well in the second half and made a good save at a crucial moment in the game at 2-2, and that is the important thing for a goalkeeper.

“A striker can miss 10 chances, but can then score the winner in extra time. A goalkeeper can make a thousand saves, but if he makes a mistake at the end which costs the game, he is the loser.

“I’m experienced enough to deal with that, and I think I showed that.

“Of course, I was really glad that the new manager gave me the confidence that I needed.”

Ruiter speaks warmly of former manager Simon Grayson, but hopes that Coleman’s preference for patient build-up from the back will allow him to flourish and show his best qualities.

“Of course it is different, but I say it like that then it sounds like I am being negative towards Simon,” Ruiter says.

“It wasn’t like that. Simon was a great guy and he tried to give his best, everyone did. Chris Coleman is a different manager, he thinks differently about the game.

“He tries to helps us in different situations to the way Simon did. I am not saying one thing is better than the other, but for me this fits more for the way I think about football and how we think in Holland.

“It’s a different country for me, a different style of football, and I am really happy that we are starting to play football from the back now because that is more what I am used to in Holland.

“I don’t think we have the players to play kick and rush all the time, sometimes the game needs that but I think we have quality and players to play football on the floor and to make the chances and goals.

“We are all working on it. It is not something you can fit in one day to the other. It’s a process, a project, it’s for the manager to get it into the team.

“In the beginning we only focused on the attacking side of the football, now we are looking at the defence. It is really important to defend together as a team and attack together as a team.

“You need everyone to defend when you are looking to tighten things up.

“Over the next few months and weeks I think you will see a big difference in the way we play.

Coleman’s arrival has seen positivity sweep the club and Ruiter is no different.

“You guys haven’t seen the best of me yet”, he says.

If Sunderland are to get away from trouble he will have to be right.