One of the most anticipated games of South Africa 2010 was this morning's Group C opener between England and USA. I had a feeling that USA might get up for it and repeat the heroics of their only other game against England in a World Cup.
When English Captain Stevie Gerrard waltzed through the US defence to score after only four minutes I was glad I hadn't taken a punt on USA to pull off an upset. However at 40 minutes a relatively harmless Clint Dempsey shot was fumbled into the net by the hapless English keeper Robert Green.
It used to be that English keepers were the touchstone for international keepers. Calm, strong and unflappable. As 'safe as the Banks of England' they would say, referring to 1966 stopper Gordon Banks. He was followed by a lineage of great English custodians such as Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton. (I'll conveniently forget Bonetti, anyway that names sounds more continental than Cotswalds.)
The number one English Number 1 of the 1990s and early noughties, David Seaman, was known as 'Safe Hands.' But it was Seaman's poor positioning against Brazil in the 2002 World Cup Quarter final allowed Ronaldhino to lob him from over 40 yards:
Maybe that blunder by Seaman started the current malaise between the sticks for England. Seaman's immediate replacement was Paul Robinson, who was well known for his errors, and failed spectacuarly against Croatia in a Euro 2008 qualifier, a tournament England failed to reach:
As for Green, there can be no excuse for his lame save which gifted a vital point to the USA, and lost England all three tournament points. The ball did not dip or swerve in flight, it was a tame daisy cutter which he saw early. English coach Fabio Capello (also not from the Cotswalds) must be worried. Green, who has been guilty of letting in soft goals before, is deputised by the tournament's oldest player, David 'Calamity' James. While James has a penchant for the spectacular he is also known for a tendency for the bizarre, and has been cuplable for some very soft goals over his career. Worse, he likes to wander far from his line, fancying himself as a bit of an outfield player. This has been a rich vein for comedy over the years.
Its not really a joke for England however, how did their keeping stocks drop so rapidly? If they want to win the World Cup again they'll need to shore up their stop banks to avert the flood of soft goals.
Here is Robert Green's howler from this morning; Judge for yourself.