In a football match, everything is complicated by the presence of the other team. Sartre certainly got that one right. I would add the addendum that everything is further complicated by the contrivances of one’s manager. And there isn’t a man on this planet who would agree more than England keeper Robert Green.
All of England, and many of the rest of us, waited like reservationless diners for Fabio Capellos’ announcement of who would be in the net for the Brits. David James was, according to reports out of the England camp, the choice of most of the England side. Communicates well, they said, has the experience, is used to the pressure and had been in nice form through most of a very difficult Premiership season with Portsmouth. It seemed that
Capello would be forced to go with the 39 year old keeper with the statement hair and a propensity for wandering off his line. But Capello brooks assumptions from no-one, certainly not his squad as it turned out, and taking up the position in goal on Saturday was Robert Green, the 30 year old keeper who suffered through a season with West Ham United that nearly ended in relegation. It was a decision Capello waited until the last minute to divulge; one wonders how long he kept it from Green.
When Clint Dempsey’s shot wandered off Green’s mitts like a curious toddler every former and current keeper looking on cringed in sympathy. It’s happened to all of us; the lob we didn’t get back fast enough on, the ball that skidded low on wet turf, the mistimed leap on a corner, the unmarked forward with the ball on his foot. Certainly Green’s performance was valiant and showed flashes of real brilliance; his great save in the second half off of Jozy Altidore was a combination of lightning quick reflexes and precise positioning.
But there is the lingering feeling the Green was done a disservice by Capello, that by not announcing his keeper he didn’t keep the boys fighting for the position, but threw doubt into the minds of the squad and, more importantly, the man who is ultimately responsible for keeping the ball in the field of play and out of the back of the net. Green certainly should have gobbled up what was an easy save, but Capello must be wondering if theatricality was a proper tactic in selecting England’s Number 1.