World Cup blog: who should occupy the sticks?

Indeed, almost every World Cup winning team has had a fantastic goalkeeper behind the ten outfield players. In 2006, Gianluigi Buffon of Italy was one of the players of the tournament.

In previous World Cups, the question of who was going to play between the sticks for England was never an issue. The country has been blessed with good quality goalkeepers—from Gordon Banks to Peter Shilton.
But this time, there is no perfect choice for manager Fabio Capello.

Joe Hart may be one for the future, but will play third fiddle at best to Robert Green and David James this summer. Photo: Blue Moon 505 via Flickr

The choice seems to be between West Ham’s Robert Green and Portsmouth’s David James. Green has endured a turbulent season at Upton Park, conceding 62 goals in the 36 league games he has played in. True, the defence in front of him haven’t given him the best of protection, but is that the kind of form that earns you the number one jersey? The unfortunate truth though is that Capello is unlikely to change the team that qualified for the tournament—meaning Green should get the nod in front of the more experienced James.

‘Calamity’ James, as he was once known, has matured with age like the clichéd fine wine. But it’s still not clear whether Capello trusts James’ eccentricity not to rear its ugly head again—or his 39-year-old body not to snap under the tension of a major tournament after a long season. Like Green, James has had plenty of balls to save this season—and hasn’t done particularly well.

Those two are a shoe-in. The third goalkeeping position is arguably up-for-grabs, but whoever it is, they are not likely to get a look in. Taking three goalkeepers is part of the FIFA regulations for the tournament, so England couldn’t take an extra midfielder for example, in the unlikely event that Capello would want to.

Joe Hart is still young but has had an excellent season at Birmingham City, while Paul Robinson has regained some kind of consistency at Blackburn. Robinson will still have hope of forcing his way into the squad, but realistically Hart would be a sound choice. It would also be an excellent medium-term choice, looking ahead to Euro 2012 and the next World Cup in 2014, where Hart will be the favourite to grab the number one jersey.

The goalkeeping position is one of the most important on the football pitch. But England’s options are uninspiring. Unfortunately for Capello, Banks and Shilton are likely to be unavailable for selection.

The Linc has chosen to take Robert Green, David James and Joe Hart to South Africa. What do you think?

6 Responses to World Cup blog: who should occupy the sticks?

  1. Alex Blackburne says:

    I think it’s an absolute travesty that Paul Robinson has been overlooked by Capello, ever since he signed for Blackburn. Let’s face it, he’s not been given a proper chance in the England goal since that rather unfortunate error against Croatia, which in my mind is very unfair. If that had have happened to James or Green, would they have been in the dark as Robinson is now? I doubt that.

    He’s kept 13 clean sheets for Blackburn this season, compared to Green’s 8 for West Ham. I agree with the James and Hart choices, but for me, it’s got to be Robinson ahead of Green.

  2. Dan Perry says:

    I’d go with the choices you’ve made as the three keepers. Robinson’s done well at Blackburn this season, but not quite enough to make it in my opinion.

    As for the starter, I think I’d go with James. I don’t get the hype with Green at all and I think James has become a lot more assured in goal in the past few years. Although, they’ve both had pretty awful defences in front of them this season, but I think James has done better considering the circumstances.

    Hart is going to be a great keeper and already is. He’s had a superb season, but I’d give James the edge over him for this WC purely because he has the big tournament experience already. Chucking Hart straight into a World Cup could be a masterstroke, but also the pressure could tell and it possibly could go tits-up for him.

  3. James Howes says:

    Green and James have been involved in a relegation scrap this season whilst Hart has gained countless plaudits for a team that should have been relegated. Hart for Number 1!

  4. Bradley King says:

    Alex- Robinson is a very good goalkeeper, contrary to popular opinion, but there’s no way Capello is going to drop Green from the squad entirely, despite his poor season.

    Dan- James is the better keeper and probably the better option in a big tournament as well, but it looks like Capello’s mind is made up.

    James- It’s a bit early for Hart yet, but this tournament will stand him in good stead for 2012 and 2014. Then again, we’ve seen goalkeepers been tipped for big things before going down the pecking order- Chris Kirkland and Ben Foster are two examples.

  5. Kevin Burgess says:

    GOALKEEPING/SQUAD SELECTION COMMENT: When the squad is announced, I hope Capello takes an extra striker, or a recovering player like Barry, and not three goalkeepers. Statistics on World Cups squads may be useful to him here: HOW MANY TIMES HAS A TEAM USED THREE GOALKEEPERS IN THE TOURNAMENT? Does anyone know? I suspect very rarely, and on some of those occasions it may have been an optional change.

    I would prefer to see an extra player like Emile Heskey or Darren Bent on the bench, rather than a third goalkeeper that we are never likely to need. Aren’t we are more likely to lose for lack of a goal, than because two goalkeepers were injured?

  6. Bradley King says:

    I realise this is a very late reply but I’ve only just seen your post Kevin.

    It’s in the rules and regulations of the World Cup that each team MUST take three goalkeepers, so even if he didn’t want to Capello would have had no choice but to take three.