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Sense of perspective needed on poor Rob Green

Posted on 13 June 2010 | 3:06pm

Poor Rob Green … even as the words go down on the screen, I can hear the fulminations to the phone-ins as one horrific moment is allowed to define a man’s career, even his life.

He is a professional footballer, and it was a playground error. Had it happened in the last minute of the Final, and been the difference between World Cup success and World Cup failure, then the wailing and teeth-gnashing might have been justified.

But it helped contribute to a draw in the most difficult of three games in the easiest group in the tournament. That’s all.

I watched the match at a fundraiser in Milton Keynes for England’s World Cup 2018. Quite a nice way to see the game, in the company of former England player Tony Woodcock, referee Dermot Gallagher and MK Dons rising star Sam Baldock. We were all asked for a prediction. The other three said England wins by one to three goals. I, the only non-expert on the panel, said that I thought America were better than people reckoned, and England would do well to win by a single goal (code for ‘I think it will be a draw but I don’t want to get booed in this flag-waving  atmosphere’).

Typing this having just watched Algeria v Slovenia, it is unthinkable for England not to qualify and when they do, the Green save will be largely forgotten and some other drama will take over.

As I left Milton Keynes I tweeted about what good sense the Radio Five live ‘pros’ Dean Kiely and Perry Groves were talking in refusing to go o.t.t, and how over the top the papers would be about Green. I ended up being asked onto Stephen Nolan’s show to elaborate.

Perry had already made my main point – that the press only do hero and zero, no shades of grey in between.

So when the event – a draw – did not live up to the hype – England to beat the world – then the automatic default position is to go into zero-meltdown mode. So it has proved, judging by thew news-stands I saw when out on the bike this morning.

Green’s one mistake does not make him a terrible goalkeeper overnight. And though England were not brilliant, they were not dreadful and will get better as the tournament goes on. You could delete England in that sentence and insert Argentina, South Korea, Mexico … (France were dreadful).

One thing I really like about Fabio Capello, as I said yesterday, is that he takes his time to make his judgements and when he makes them, he stands by them and accepts the consequences.

He and his staff know more about how the players are, and how they are likely to operate with each other and under pressure, than any of the pundits.

In selecting Green yesterday, he will have had sound reasons. If he decides to keep him for the game against Algeria, fine. If he decides that Green’s confidence is too low as a result of what has happened, and he leaves him out, fine too. Both tough calls. The choice of David James or Joe Hart is another tough call, and the phone-ins will have a field day on that too, now that the whole country is made up of experts on goalkeeping, many of whom had not heard of Rob Green till last night.

In the 24 hour media age, it is not easy to insulate people from its noise and its frenzy. But the England camp should be making sure Green, who knows better than anyone that he cocked up, is as shielded from it as he can be. And Capello is best making the decision without any reference to to noise and frenzy at all.

Only one question matters for Capello arising out of Green’s mistake … which of my three goalkeepers is best placed to do the job against Algeria (whose manager will now be facing a similar issue following his goalkeeper’s cock-up against Slovenia)? Only they can decide, however many million advisers they may have.

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  • Charlie

    I suspect that this new “Most Spherical Ball Ever” might cause problems for a few more keepers til they get used to it…

  • Bernie

    Never mind the lacklustre team performance and Green’s howler, the most disturbing thing about this blog entry is your attendance at an event which aims to legitimise franchising in football. I thought you were a true football fan and democrat Alastair, which makes your presence at that event so disappopinting. How would you have liked your beloved Burnley moved 60 miles away? No true football fan could support England’s World Cup 2018 bid until Stadium MK is removed from the bid document.

  • onimo_uk

    Much as I applaud your call for perspective I feel you’re shouting in the wind here. This is England, in a World Cup – perspective goes out of the window the minute they qualify.
    I notice that you, like many others (see The Sun’s E A S Y front page when the draw was made), were quick to dismiss the chances of the team who put Russia out and a top 30 team with huge experience of playing big matches in Africa and who put Ivory Coast out of the African Cup of Nations only a few months ago.
    Maybe more perspective is needed all round. That “there are no easy games in the World Cup” is a cliché doesn’t make it untrue. I do still think England will have too much for the two “minnows” in the group but they should take them lightly at their peril.

  • Layla

    As An Mk Dons season ticket holder I would so love the 2018 bid to be successful. Our stadium and the football has really brought the community together in Milton Keynes. Pity about the few AFC Wimbledon supporters who deserted Wimbledon and now resent the success of MK Dons

  • George

    Quite a Cameron-esque situation that goal! It looked so easy to get but yet it was as elusive as a clear general election win can be.

    Anyway good luck to Mr. Green for the following games and may the best nation win!

  • Patrick James

    I confess I find football really boring. This world cup thing is quite a drag when it comes I find it difficult to avoid it.

    I don’t know who Rob Green is but I hope things aren’t too bad for him.

    Lord Cashcroft has written a book. He’s publishing it himself and it’s going to be very critical of the Conservative party leadership.

    Looks like he doesn’t think he got his money’s worth out of them!

  • tom t

    Layla – if MK needed to steal another town’s club to bring their community together, it says a hell of a lot about the place. What’s wrong with getting behind your local team, supporting them and watching then rise through the leagues? Like, er, Wimbledon did.

    But, no, you cheated and stole Wimbledon’s league place instead. For the record, it isn’t just AFC Wimbledon fans who hate you; all true football fans regard you as a pariah club and that’s why I’m shocked that a so-called proper fan like Campbell would pitch up at this event.

    And for the record again, we didn’t desert Wimbledon. Once the move to MK went ahead, that “club” wasn’t Wimbledon anymore. AFC Wimbledon are the direct continuation of Wimbledon FC; MK “Dons” are a tumour on the game.

  • Mark Mabberley

    Excellent sensible post as usual. I know nothing about or watch any football and it seems I was one of the few last night not glued to the television. However, you are right about the media and armchair experts. The same approach applies just as much to other fields. How many of the columnists in today’s papers thrust into such a position, playing for your country in front of a worldwide (minus 1!) audience, would not make a human error? None, I expect, is the only truthful answer.

    And, as someone else has pointed out today, England drew their first match on the 1966 Would Cup (and suddenly I am an armchair expert!).

  • CB

    As a non-football follower who watched the game last, the first in 4 years, I’m fascinated by this hysteria.

    The USA had plenty of very near misses, only prevented by luck or good goalkeeping. In fact, it was only a few minutes before the slip that I was saying how pleased I was with our goalkeeper.

    It’s amusing how people get really hacked off with the one inevitable slip up by the goalie, but don’t say how well he did to prevent those near misses.

  • Jack

    Layla, fans of AFC Wimbledon didn’t ‘desert’ their club, their club was hijacked and shipped of to a completely different town. Through their own determination they are a few seasons away from entering league football for the second time, when your franchise hasn’t had to do it once.

  • Tony

    Layla. So you think Wimbledon fans should travel up through London 70 miles for a ‘home’ game that is at a club with a different name, badge and kit to the one they support and then be happy with a half empty stadium in a souless environment in a league below the one they were in in 1991 when they were stolen because the franchisers couldn’t keep them up. You clearly are a fair weather fan who does not know anything about what makes the heart and soul of football clubs. Yes its those people who are always there when owners, managers and players have made money out of them and buggered off. So why is AC supporting them?

  • Alan Quinn

    Jack, well said, it will be nice to see Wimbledon get back into the league. Alan, FC United fan.

  • Trevor Malcolm Portsmouth Hampshire

    Instead of “blaming Cameron” this once – I see Mr Campbell claims some chappie called Fabio Capello “ … takes his time, to make his judgements” (see blog published opposite, please) and then, made ‘em, the chap stands by ‘em and awaits, then accepts the consequences. Best summarised – “hey, lads, I done screwed up for y’all, hehehe …”

    Whereas some chappie with a bit of old-fashioned commonsense between his ear-rings, might contest if only Fabi’ made the correct judgements in the first place, we could all dispense with this footie-goalie fumbling faffings about to ensure the team wins the game 1-0 for England instead

    See, in layman’s terms, if only Fabio’d shoved David James – best goalie in the country – in between the goalposts, all this 1-1 England draw could so easily have been avoided

    Let’s face it, if the team manager can’t even choose the right player to wear the Number One shirt for England, then you might as well begin future England games, with our lot trailing at least three goals behind, at kick-off

    I presume the manager chap’ll see the sense in “changing strategy” and shove the Pompey FC keeper, Mr David James, between the sticks next game. Then, we’ll have no more of this football-fumbling nonsense to contend with, tut, tut-tut …

    Good job we don’t take footie too seriously, down here on the south coast of England

    Trevor in Portsmouth ——–

    —————————–

  • redcliffe62

    Having watched the Aussies take a pumping, and lose their best player for the next match after he was sent off for essentially tickling someone, I assure you a 1 all draw in a group without Germany, Ghana and Serbia is pretty good.

  • Robert Jackson

    As with others, I take little interest in football.

    But what tickles me about your narrative is that it is almost word for word in its advice from sixteenth century Florence and the words of Niccolo M on being an effective prince.

    Choose your advisers. Listen to their advice. Make up your own mind.

    There is timeless essence to this which makes the politics of Politics and of football and of almost anything else so interesting.

  • Steve R

    SHOCK HORROR. Alistair you don’t blame the coalition for Greens faux pas! Amazing