Former players and pundits will tell you one mistake doesn’t make you a bad player, however in West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green’s case, it appears so. The 30-year-old has been punished for his mistake in England’s opening World Cup match against the USA after being dropped by Italian coach Fabio Capello for Wednesday’s untimely friendly against Hungary at Wembley.
Green’s failure to deal with Fulham striker Clint Dempsey’s speculative long-range effort will live long in the memory of most Three Lions supporters. The stopper’s mistake set the tone for the rest of England’s woefully inept performances in South Africa and Green found himself dropped for his country’s next game against Algeria. Capello even refused a second chance to re-call Green following Paul Robinson’s decision to retire from international football and head into the fiendly game with only the unproven duo of Joe Hart and Ben Foster to choose from. Capello may yet regret the decision to drop Green given England’s current lack of options between the sticks. With David James now playing in the Championship, Robinson’s retirement and Green’s snub, England are not left with an abundance of options.
The West Ham No.1 deserved a shot of redemption in an England jersey yet his horror show against the USA could now well be his last international appearance. England goalkeepers don’t seem to get a second chance as former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Scott Carson and Rover No.1 Robinson will confirm. Gunners legend Seaman’s mistake in a Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia, where he conceded directly from a corner, proved to be his last before he was swiftly dropped in favour of David James. Scott Carson was also vilified after failing to gather a timid 30-yard Niko Krancjar shot in a 3-2 defeat to Croatia which ended England’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2008. He has only played for England on one occasion since the costly mistake.
Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Robinson was also cast into the international wilderness, following a mistake in Euro 2008 qualifying. The former Spurs man misjudged a back pass from Manchester United defender Gary Neville, allowing the ball to bobble over his foot and into the back of the net in a 2-0 defeat to Croatia. If players are not given the chance to recover from their mistakes, then England will continue to have problems trying to overcome the fear factor of playing with the weight of such great expectation. Having overlooked Robinson for the World Cup, Capello forced the player to make a decision on his future and his availability will be missed in future England squads.
It’s amazing that the former Real Madrid coach can select Green as the country’s best goalkeeper heading into a World Cup tournament but not even in the top three following his error. Capello has shown absolutely no loyalty to Green and has clearly cast him as the scapegoat in England’s World Cup mess. With Hart likely to struggle for a regular first-team slot at Eastlands and Capello’s other goalkeeper Foster having to re-build his career at Birmingham after failing to make it at Old Trafford, Capello may yet regret the times he turned his back on both Robinson and Green.
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