In Rob We Trust

by Tyrone Marshall

The Robert Green howler which cost England a win over the USA on Saturday night has left Fabio Capello with a massive selection headache, but Tyrone Marshall believes that faith is needed in the West Ham man.

Fabio Capello must make a firm decision on his first-choice goalkeeper in the coming days and stick to it, because the current audition process if damaging all of the contenders.

The Italian faces a tough choice over who to play in goal in England’s next match, against Algeria in Cape Town, and the decision must be made before 5pm on Friday.

There will never be any justifiable excuses for the inexplicable mistake by Rob Green that allowed Clint Dempsey’s speculative effort to earn the USA a point in Rustenberg on Saturday, but Capello’s indecision over the identity of his number one is threatening to undermine all three keepers.

The manager, who has earned a reputation for his tough approach to squad selection and discipline, must make it known to his players who his first choice is, and he must be given a public show of support and belief from Capello.

It was made clear that all three goalkeepers in the squad had an equal chance of starting against the USA, but the three-week audition for the job has highlighted the shortcomings of all potential candidates.

David James, at 39 and with 50 caps the most experienced of the trio, was given the number one jersey when the squad numbers were revealed.

But since then the England coaching staff have had reservations about his fitness, even though the Portsmouth keeper believes he is fit and is raring to go.

We are told that Joe Hart has been the most impressive of the three options in training, and he appeared to have jumped the queue when he started in front of the first-choice back four in England’s final warm-up game against the Platinum Stars.

But his lack of experience, having only played three times for England in friendlies, and never for more than 45 minutes, appears to have put Capello off in the final days before the opening Group C fixture.

That left Rob Green in the job almost by default, even though he had possibly his best 45 minutes for England in the warm-up friendly against Mexico.

That was perhaps Capello’s chance to declare Green was his first choice and instill confidence in his chosen man.

By failing to identify a number one keeper, all three could have lost confidence in their own abilities, and the rest of the squad, in particularly the defenders, have had little time to settle in to an understanding with the goalkeeper.

Goalkeepers can feel isolated and alone when they make mistakes, which is why it is important they are given the backing and support of their manager.

A confident goalkeeper is an assured goalkeeper.

A goalkeeper who is fearful of losing his place or has had his position or confidence undermined, is more likely to make a mistake.

Ben Foster was expected to be England’s number one by now, but after impressing when on-loan at Watford he has failed to make the grade at Manchester United.

He was never given a substantial run in the team by Sir Alex Ferguson, and could have felt he was under pressure to be perfect to keep Edwin van der Sar out of the team.

If Foster had been given the backing of Sir Alex, and told he was the number one, he would have been less fearful of making errors and would not have been living on his nerves.

When Harry Redknapp took over at Spurs he was initially critical of the error-prone and ridiculed Heurelho Gomes, but he realised that Gomes, so impressive for PSV Eindhoven, hadn’t become a bad keeper overnight.

Redknapp went out of his way to publically back Gomes, and got his players to believe in him to. Last season he was one of the best keepers in the Premier League.

David Seaman, David James, Paul Robinson and Scott Carson have all made high-profile blunders in an England goal in the past eight years.

All except James saw their England careers end almost immediately, and James didn’t feature in a competitive game for three years after he endured a torrid evening when England were hammered 4-1 by Denmark in 2005.

Green’s international career doesn’t have to end after that mistake, but Capello must end the debate and auditions, and he must back his preferred goalkeeper, restore his confidence and belief, and make sure the rest of the squad share that ideal.

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