Three Goalies for the Shirt
By Isabella Stockwell.
It seems the season of the ‘extra two’ is fast approaching football. Discussions on whether there should be an extra two officials in next seasons Champions League are currently underway and of course, Fabio Capello’s indecision between the three goalkeepers travelling to South Africa has been causing a stir.
Italy are settled on Gianluigi Buffon, Brazil on Julio Cesar and England on, well David James, Rob Green and Joe Hart, making England the only favourites to be undecided on their goalkeeper.
Out of the 371 to have ever qualified for the World Cup Finals, only four teams in a single World Cup tournament have used all three goalkeepers. So is Fabio’s indecision worrying? Technically, no, as it is a necessity, in fact, it is a FIFA rule, that all squads must contain three goalkeepers, giving Capello extra time to mull over his decision.
But it seems many of us are as indecisive as Capello on just who should be the rightful number 1- and after not qualifying for the last European Championship, it’s imperative that Capello makes the right choice.
Tipped to be Capello’s ideal goalkeeper by some, Portsmouth’s David James, the favourite of ex-England goalies Gordon Banks, Dave Beasant and Peter Shilton, is the most experienced out of the three. However, he has had an awful season at Fratton Park. James has been injury-prone (many blaming his prime age of 39), with a calf injury preventing him from playing many international matches. He appeared in only one fixture last term in October, but only after Green had been sent off against Ukraine. This leaves many of us wondering, could he handle so many games in such a short space of time? Shilton seems to think so. After all, Peter played on for 18-months after playing at Italia ‘90 and he was 40-years-old, showing perhaps that mental fitness is more crucial than age when it comes to keeping.
Next in popularity is said to be West Ham’s Rob Green. Like James, he has had a bad season, with the Hammers finishing a disappointing 15th in the league. For England, however, he has been consistent, having started 8 out of the last 10 games and making a string of impressive saves against Mexico last Monday. He has youth on his side in comparison to James, but unlike him, he hasn’t played in a major international tournament before, which could prove to be risky.
Green and James have not only had a poor season, but their statistics aren’t looking too promising either. Between them this term, both James and Green have conceded 1.73 goals per match. Joe Hart, however, has conceded a lower average of 1.23 goals per match, although ironically he is the least favoured of the three to take the jersey.
Manchester City’s Hart has had a good season on loan to Birmingham, helping the blues reach 9th place in the league. He’s Mancini’s favourite for the England squad (but that’s to be expected), and he most certainly has age on his side at the tender age of 23. However, this may prove a problem. It could be said he is too inexperienced for the position, though there hasn’t been much to go by; Hart has only played a game and a half for England, with little to do against Mexico. It is also a worry that a mistake on such a stage as the World Cup would permanently damage Joe Hart’s young international career. All we have to do is look to Scott Carson’s game against Croatia two and a half years ago at Wembley for proof of how a debut for England can go horribly wrong.
Hart would be a brave choice, but perhaps a fresh one, though we won’t know Capello’s choice until England take to the Rustenburg pitch on the 12th June. Until then, we can only speculate as to who really is Capello’s favourite and wait for any subtle hints that he may let slip… the first being who wears the shirt against Japan.
Decided on who you want to be England’s Number 1? Comment and let me know….
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