Arsenal goalkeeper Mat Ryan has apologised for upsetting some Brighton fans after saying he was hoping to have two or three good seasons at the AmEx Stadium before earning a move to a bigger club in order to progress his career. He said this in an interview with Optus Sport via Sussex Live.
The Australia international left the Seagulls in the January transfer window and joined the Gunners on loan after losing his place in the team to Robert Sanchez in December 2020. He spoke about how shocked he was by the way Brighton manager Graham Potter informed him that he was free to leave the club in the transfer window.
He said he did not feel the complete support of the club. On Potter’s conversation with him, Ryan said the following, according to Sussex Live:
“We were training in the evening before the Fulham match midweek. He [Potter] pulled me into his office. I knew what was going to be happening in terms of I wasn’t going to be playing as it was a similar pattern to what happened with the first game when I was dropped.”
“What I didn’t expect was to be told that I can basically leave if I get a good offer in January. He called me to his office and basically said he would give Sanchez an extended run. That he likes the second goalkeeper in the role that he does in Jason Steele.”
“He feels like he supports the number one role very well. He basically said I would be out of the squad completely for the next run of games and he started thanking me for my time at the club. Saying you’ve been a great servant for the club, you’ve been professional, I can’t say a bad word about you and all this.”
“I was sort of stunned by all this. I had to stop him and clarify, ‘Gaffer, I understand you are telling me I am not playing for these next couple of weeks but can I still fight for my position at the club, or are you bascially showing me the door and telling me I can leave?’.”
“He basically said ‘knowing you and how you are as a person and a footballer and you have a willingness to want to play in a team, I suggest that if you get a good offer in January that you take it’.”
“I was a bit shocked to hear that at that time and how it all unfolded. It sort of contradicted a couple of things he had said to me previously as well after dropping me the first time.”
“I am just documenting what I was told. During a January window especially for a goalkeeper is tough.”
“And on top of that during a Covid period it was never going to be easy either and then you need some luck to come your way and a right suitor or fit comes along because I wasn’t exactly going to make a rash decision and try and move clubs in a desperate attempt to salvage my career.”
“Put myself behind the eight ball or something like that. I wanted to wait for a solid opportunity to come up and obviously what unfolded in the next few weeks unfolded and now I find myself here now.”
Ryan joined Brighton in the summer of 2017 and up until the end of last year, he was an ever present for the Seagulls. He made 123 appearances for Brighton in all competitions with 121 of those appearances coming in the Premier League. He is a seasoned shotstopper and has talked about how his plan was to do well for Brighton and earn a move to a bigger club in two or three years.
He admits that things didn’t work out the way he had planned at Brighton but is glad that he finds himself at Arsenal where he believes he can achieve big things even though he is the second-choice goalkeeper behind Bernd Leno. He said:
“I had in my mind a little bit of a plan that I wanted to play a couple of seasons at Brighton and try and do well and hopefully be bought by a bigger club and keep progressing in my career.”
“Perhaps it didn’t work out in the way of playing two, three seasons and then being bought for a fee as. No.1 and going and playing.”
“But one way or another I’ve obviously ended up in a massive step up from Brighton and to another level of football.”
“Playing at the pinnacle of the game and being a part of a team like this. Trying to enjoy the journey and take advantage of all that’s in front of me at the moment.”
“I’m not the first player to be in a situation where you are not wanted or you are not perceived or viewed as being the best man for the job.”
“There’s a number of reasons that can happen. Whether it is a performance thing or an opinion of a manager that one (player) is better than another.”
“You never really know if there is a political or business side of things behind decisions. As players sometimes it is really hard to get the real insight as to the reason why.”
“You can go stir crazy in your head trying to figure it out. This season at Brighton, the longer it was going on there were more and more signs that were happening that I just didn’t feel the full support of the club.”
“It’s very hard to thrive when you are not feeling the support of the business or the company. Unfortunately for me, that’s how I was feeling when I look back this whole season.
“I’m not trying to make an excuse. I also wasn’t able to get the job done out on the pitch.”
After a snippet of his interview was published by TalkSeagulls on their Instagram page, some Brighton fans were left disappointed with his comments about wanting to move to a bigger club while others understood the fact that he had ambitions to reach the top of the game.
Ryan apologised for his comments and said it was never his intention to be disrespectful towards Brighton. He said he would pay extra attention about how he refers to the club going forward. He said he has nothing but fondness for the club in his heart and wishes them all the best.
He commented on TalkSeagulls’ Instagram post and it reads as follows:
“Hey mate, it’s been brought to my attention that there’s been a few people who’ve been upset/disappointed with some comments I’ve made in this interview and I want to apologise to anyone who has felt I’ve been disrespectful towards the club, this was not and never will be my intention.”
“I recognise how people could have interpreted that through those comments and moving forward I’ll be sure to pay extra attention as to how I refer to the club to not have the same outcome.”
“The club will always have a special place in my heart as I said and I’ve got nothing but fond memories and wish all the best to you all for the remainder of the season and I’ll always continue to support the club because of our experiences together.”