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Englands Goalkeeping Crisis....Can we win the World Cup without a World Class Keeper?
England National Football Team
Member Name: huggy2009
England National Football Team
Advantages: Very Few, Young English Keepers have little chance to develop
Disadvantages: Money rules!!
With the World Cup only 4 months away it is becoming increasingly clear that Englands goalkeeping options are not overwhelming Fabio Capello.
At the moment press speculation implies that his first choice keeper would be the veteran David James who at 39 is still younger than the legendary Dino Zoff who won the World Cup at the age of 41 with Italy in 1983, the big issue with James is not his age but the knee injury which has niggled him since cruciate ligament surgery during the summer. The fact he has hardly played is something of a disadvantage for Capello who will want a player in form, fit and ready for a non-stop tournament.
If James does play he will also have to contend with the fact he is playing at Portsmouth, a club in utter turmoil at the moment with nobody quite sure whether they will last financially until April. With talk of a loan move to Stoke City, with all due respect this is more suited to a Journeyman professional than the English National Keeper, but then English goalkeepers are not an essential part of the Premier League anymore.
Of the other contenders for the goalkeeping spot, Ben Foster is not the first choice keeper at Manchester United and has not had enough games to build up any level of consistency, he also appears to make one mistake a game which is disappointing, Robert Green is going to have a stressful season with the West Ham defence under constant pressure but has eliminated a lot of the errors he used to make, although he is still very dodgy on crosses, while Chris Kirkland possibly the most naturally gifted English keeper would have been put down if he were a horse due to the constant range of injuries he suffers.
Looking back on previous tournaments individual goalkeeping errors have hit the England team hard with David Seaman's poor judgement costing the team against Brazil in the 2002 tournament. While the defence has players of the quality of Ferdinand, Cole and Terry with lots of decent back up players, the goalkeeping spot has never been quite as stable.
Although James has held the spot, his consistency and ability to make errors in big games has never made the English public comfortable with him as the last man.
Is this a problem, can a team win the tournament without a great keeper, well yes they can, but generally they can't win it without a reliable one. Unfortunately at the moment England's biggest problem is finding a keeper we all believe to be reliable. As good as James is, how many of us in our heart of hearts believe he won't make one of his irregular big match cock-ups during the tournament, equally Green for all his good points is not strong on crosses and is also well known for the occasional big match balls up.
Is there a young keeper who could make a late surge for a place in the squad? Unfortunately not, Joe Hart is having a fantastic season at Birmingham but doesn't have the experience to play at the higher level quite yet, and Capello is not going to experiment at this late stage. Scott Loach is the under 21 goalkeeper but like Peterborough's Joe Lewis his experiences at Watford don't give him the experience or profile to go to the tournament.
Rob Green, Paul Robinson and Joe Hart are the only 3 English Keepers really guaranteed first team football at the moment and while Green is consistent as West Ham's last line of defence, Robinson has come through the mental turmoil of the season where his form utterly left him and Hart has been a revelation, none will start in the World Cup unless James is injured.
With only three English goalkeepers guaranteed first team football in the Premier League there is a small pool of options for Capello to choose from, this means we will probably go with James, Green and either Robinson or Ben Foster, but being honest who believes any of these goalkeepers could help us win a World Cup?
It has been discussed that perhaps the Premier League need to have some kind of ratio system to ensure young English players get a chance to play and develop in their league, allowing them the opportunity to really understand the game at the highest level. Young keepers like Hart, Foster, Loach and Joe Lewis have the ability to play at the highest level, but most have to seek loan moves to gain first team football, otherwise like Foster they play the odd Carling Cup match and lots of reserve football.
With reliable Scandinavian and American keepers being cheaper and more used to the big matches, it is a conundrum, the Premier League really needs to put the national game above money for once and consider it, because while its Goalkeepers at the moment, without Wayne Rooney we would also be seriously bereft of a top English goalscorer at any of the top 4 clubs, we could end up with a Premier League watched around the world and a national team filled with reserves and youth team players who never live up to the high standards required by the English media and fans.
The current English goalkeeping issues put this in perspective with only 3 keepers possibly even less at the moment playing in the Premier League, Capello is limited in choice and this can't be good for the England football team in the short-term or the game in this country over the longer term.
Summary: Englands Goalkeeping Crisis....Can we win the World Cup without a World Class Keeper?