Rumours which had built up for around half a year finally came to a head today as the Official Chelsea site announced the signing of former Middlesbrough ‘keeper Ross Turnbull.

The 24-year-old had let his contract run down at the Riverside and joins us on a free transfer. While Real Madrid have brought in Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Jesus, Babe Ruth, and will continue to buy big names until they have triple-figured squad numbers, we have gone down the rather more conservative route of buying a player who we need. After Carlo Cudicini’s departure last season we needed a back-up ‘keeper and Turnbull fits the bill.

But while Ronaldo and Kaka are more familiar names, some fans may be scratching their heads over the identity of Ross Turnbull. Of course, Middlesbrough fans know him well, so who better to ask? Shaun Graham from lifts the lid on our new signing:

CFCnet: “How disappointed are you to see Turnbull leave?”

SG: “I was quite disappointed as I feel Ross has a lot of potential and all the raw ability to be a very good goalkeeper. I want to wish him all the best at Chelsea though and I hope he gets some games next season.”

CFCnet: “What did you think of his performances last season?”

SG: “Initially his performances were very good; he looked very confident and was pulling off some superb saves. At the start of the season many Boro fans were questioning the decision to let Mark Schwarzer go without a replacement, after the initial few weeks I think we thought that decision had been vindicated and that Ross Turnbull was going to fill that position. Sadly it didn’t work out that way and goalkeeping was an issue for us all last season.”

CFCnet: “He started off as first-choice ‘keeper following Schwarzer’s summer departure last season, but was eventually replaced by Brad Jones. Why do you think he didn’t cut the mustard?”

SG: “He had a couple of bad games and started shipping goals; we were thumped at home by Chelsea for one! I think his confidence took a huge blow and he was removed from the side. I am still of the opinion that he was hung out to dry by some awful defending in those games and that the finger of blame was unfairly levelled towards Ross.

The main reason many Boro fans believe he was effectively dropped for the rest of the season though is his refusal to sign a new contract. Brad Jones put pen to paper on his new deal, Ross continually refused the terms offered to him and so Jones got to start in goal. I am a firm believer that Turnbull is a much better keeper than Brad Jones and that, if it is the case that he was dropped for refusing a contract, it is one more Southgate error in a season full of bad decisions.

I am disappointed that he left on a free but the rumours I have heard are that the terms offered by Boro were far below what he was expecting, so it is no surprise to see him leave. I am shocked he has gone to Chelsea as he continually stated his desire to move away to secure regular first team football and I can’t see it happening at Stamford Bridge, money talks though!

The feeling around Boro fans is that Chelsea have signed him to increase their quota of English players, I’m not sure what the feeling is around Chelsea fans to his signing though.”

CFCnet: “What can Chelsea fans expect to see from Turnbull (if he ever gets a game)?”

SG: “I think you can expect to see him spending a lot of time sat on the bench! I think with a solid defence in front of him he will really shine, he is a good shot stopper and has a large presence in the area. One area he needs to improve is his command of the box, he needs to be a lot more assertive with high balls into the box and use his large physical presence to really command the box.”

CFCnet: “What kind of reception will he receive when ‘Boro come back up to the Premier League (foregone conclusion right!?)?”

“I don’t think there is too much bad feeling towards Ross, he is a young keeper who has moved on to bigger things, and at the end of the day he wasn’t in the team for large periods of the season so there is not the feeling of having lost a key player like there would be if Wheater or Downing had moved on (obviously there is still time for that to happen yet!).

Good luck this season and hopefully we will back next year.”

Thanks again to Shaun Graham from Boro Mania.

Along with the announcement of Turnbull’s arrival, Chelsea also revealed that our other back-up ‘keeper Hilario has signed a two year contract until 2011. Let the battle commence then…I mean not for a place in the starting XI…On the bench. Still a battle isn’t it?

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