Calamity Green: as West Ham struggle, Laura Burnip considers the fate of their number one

Posted on September 12, 2010


Poor old Rob Green. Yesterday, during a 3-1 home defeat against Chelsea, Green once again found himself the protagonist of a goalkeeping blunder when he fumbled an easy free-kick from Drogba. Matthew Upson’s frantic clearance went straight to the legs of Kalou and into the West Ham net for Chelsea’s second goal.

And while England’s latest number one, Joe Hart, was also involved in a pretty farcical goal, I can’t imagine this was much consolation for the under-fire Green.

With 0 points from their first 4 games, West Ham are currently languishing at the bottom of the table. It seems that their luck is nowhere to be found, doing nothing for Green’s confidence.

Rob Green

Rob Green despairs after helping in Clint Dempsey's weak shot

It’s almost hard to believe how much Green’s fortunes have changed in just a few months. Chosen ahead of old favourite David James to wear the number one shirt in England’s opening World Cup game against the USA, Green literally had the world at his feet. But just one goalkeeping error changed all that, immediately being seized upon as the reason for England’s unimpressive performance in the contest.

The goal was blamed as having ‘set the tone’ of the competition, and Green soon became a scapegoat for the media and the public. While the new domestic season saw everyone and anyone associated with England in South Africa greeted with taunts and jeers, the abuse saved for Green seemed much more malicious.

So is it possible to come back after such an infamous mistake?

Looking at faces from the dark past of England goalkeeping, there certainly seems to be a long line of goalies who never reached their potential after failing at international level – Paul Robinson and Scott Carson to name but a few.

Saying that, Green has had some good performances this season. The 3-0 score line in their game against Manchester United last month does nothing to flatter him, but Green put in a solid performance in a game which could have been closer.

Goalkeepers do make mistakes from time to time, but unfortunately for Green, every tiny fumble or misjudgement is going to blown out of proportion, which is not an easy position to be in.

Furthermore, pressure is mounting on West Ham to get some points under their belt before it’s too late. Considering that their four games have included meetings with both Chelsea and Manchester United, they shouldn’t be too worried about being stuck on 0.

Green is said to take an interest in sports psychology, and it is obvious that despite the pressure he has not yet cracked. And he will need real mental strength to save his career.

I had been thinking that a loan spell could be the answer – Green could go on loan to a lower-division side and get his confidence back out of the spotlight of the Premiership.

But there doesn’t seem to be an obvious replacement: West Ham currently have three other goalkeepers in their senior squad, the oldest of whom is 22, and none of whom have any real experience. So in the circumstances, Green is probably their best option.

Also, chances are that wherever Green went he would receive the same treatment from the fans. And on his eventual return to the Premiership, the critics could have been strengthened by his absence.

So the only option seems to be that Green gets his head down, ignores the fans and somehow struggles through.

While yesterday’s mistake will not have helped, hopefully once West Ham start scoring and get some points under their belt, Rob Green can leave his ghosts in South Africa and show he’s got some serious balls.

Click here to re-live Green’s World Cup blunder

West Ham 1-3 Chelsea match report in The Observer