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Time For Capello To Restore Paul Robinson As Englands No.1

For me, there is only one English goalkeeper that can be England’s number one for South Africa next summer and that man is Paul Robinson. After being so badly treated at Tottenham under Juande Ramos and unfairly blamed for giving away a soft goal for England against Croatia, Robinson has finally got back to his best. He was hung out to dry by Steve Mclaren after Gary Neville’s wayward back pass bobbled over his foot.

Everyone conveniently forgot the string of saves Robinson had made to keep England in a game they were a poor second best in that night. Right now, he is playing better than any of his counterparts, with probably the exception of Steve Harper at Newcastle United and Joe Hart at Birmingham City. Forget the Robert Green argument, he’s nowhere near good enough.

Of the goalkeepers available to Capello, Robinson is head and shoulders above all others and has been for the best part of a year. David James is injured and playing for a team in free-fall, both on and off the pitch. Robert Green is bang out of form and consistently makes mistake after mistake. He also has a tendency to try and deliberately foul players whenever possible.For all his bravado and wearing “England’s number 6” on his gloves, he’s not good enough. He’s always been poor coming off his line and his aerial ability is not the best.

Poor old Ben Foster has suffered from some rather unnecessary criticism but still can’t shift the dreadful Thomas Kuszczak from between the sticks at Old Trafford.There is no doubt that the lad can go a long way in the game, but he’s suffering from a crisis in confidence at the moment, but he’s still a better goalkeeper than Kuszczak.

Scott Carson still suffers from a lack of concentration at West Bromwich Albion and still seems to bear the scars from the defeat to Croatia in November 2007 at Wembley. For all his shot stopping ability, Carson can still make some all mighty howlers from out of nowhere and seems to have fallen away from anywhere near the England team.

Poor old Chris Kirkland simply can’t keep fit, whenever he gets on a great run of form, his long standing back injury seems to flare up and take out of the side. Despite the 9 goal mauling Wigan Athletic suffered at White Hart Lane, it’s no exaggeration to say it could have been twenty if it wasn’t for Kirkland. He showed such promise at Coventry but injuries blighted his time at Anfield and he’s never been able to shake the tag of being injury prone.

Other than Robinson and Hart, the other stand out candidate for the three places in South Africa for me is Steve Harper at Newcastle. He’s now getting the opportunity to show just how good a goalkeeper he actually is week in week out after Shay Given left last January for Manchester City. Whilst most people would have been itching for a move, Harper has shown incredible loyalty to Newcastle over the years.

After 16 years service, with 12 of those as Given’s back up, he’s incredibly only played 151 games for Newcastle, with 86 of those appearances coming in the last four seasons. He has constantly served the club with pride and is now in the form of his life. Whilst others may have viewed Given’s depature as a real blow, having a player of the ability of Harper would certainly soften the blow.

Whilst some people seem to point out that you need a great goalkeeper to win the World Cup, with the exception of Buffon in 2006, you have to go all the way back to 1982 to find a team with a world class goalkeeper that won the World Cup. Every other winner since then has had good, and in some cases distinctly average custodians between the sticks. Paul Robinson is far better than average and Capello would do well to welcome him back into the fold.  With Harper and Hart, that would be a dependable and quality set of goalkeepers to choose from.

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  1. Stephen Short

    January 3, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Some people who are ruling out harper straight away are pathetic. “you must be the only person on the world that thinks so” Gary linekar thinks so!
    Newcastle have had for a while “two amazing shot stoppers” bobby robson.
    The reason why anyone would say a team of 11 players gets relagated because of a goalkeeper Is ignorant and has an extreme lack of knowledge for the game.

    Hart on current form cannot not be considerd as no.1 with harper 2 and thirds a mystery

  2. Simon Burke

    January 1, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Hmm, i cant see Robinson getting back in the fold -still looks heavy to me and was always far too easy to beat from outside the box.
    I agree Hart is the player that deserves it and already been in the England frame via Pearce etc… I havent seen enough of how he deals with crosses but shot stopping he is excellent.

  3. Clampdown

    January 1, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Robinson? Absolutely.

    I hope Hart isn’t in goal against the US. England may actually win if he is.

  4. SamSpur

    January 1, 2010 at 4:14 am

    “after being so badly treated at Tottenham under Juande Ramos…”

    could you care to explain that phrase? he was dropped at different points under Ramos (and Jol iirc as well) for Radek Cerny; but wasn’t completely frozen out; he was the winning keeper in the CC final vs Chelsea. He was dropped, and finally sent to Blackburn mainly because after the ’06 WC, the rest of his time for Spurs he was complete sh1t. This is why England went back to James, and experimented with the likes of Scott Carson as #1 (yikes). Watch the goals of the season videos for ’06-’07 and ’07-’08, all you’ll see is one 25+ yarder after another screaming past Robbo in the Spurs goal, simply because his reflexes and agility aren’t good at all (and although he’s improved this season and probably has made his way back into England’s top 3, just watch again Bent’s second goal in the recent S’land match and see how slow Robbo was to dive to it.)

    • Paul Bestall

      January 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      As a Spurs fan, I can assure you I’ve seen plenty of Paul Robinson.

  5. Brad

    December 31, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Harper has been the most consistent English keeper for a while. He was only Newcastle’s number 1 for half of the season they were relegated, as Given was before he was sold. Harper played well, and continues to this season. He’s not going to make mistakes, which are things almost guaranteed amongst the other candidates.

  6. kevin_amold

    December 31, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Robinson is “head and shoulders” above Joe Hart? My friend, I could not disagree more.

  7. Rob McCluskey

    December 31, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I’d obviously like to see Harper go to the world cup but I don’t think it will happen. Harper has been solid this season and made some amazing saves. If Joe Lewis can make the England squad then why can’t Harper? We struggle for goal keepers but he is one of the best English goal keepers going at the moment.

    I’d like to see Robbo in the sticks, ideally i would like James but I think retirement is on the horizon for him, not fit enough and too old. Rob Green will have no confidence by the time the world cup comes around. And as for Joe Hart, hes only got the one cap so probably doesn’t have as good an understanding with the back four as green and robbo. Now isn’t the time to be making drastic changes.

  8. IanCransonsKnees

    December 31, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Steve Harper! You must be pissed.

    Having seen Joe Hart less than seven days ago he is in fantastic form and deserves a try out for England in one of the friendlies. In outstanding form and keeping Brum at the right end of the table. He deserves a chance to prove he’s up for it.

  9. Rob Dee

    December 31, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Steve Harper? you must be joking!!! in his first season as Newcastle’s number 1 they get relegated and now he’s doing well in the championship which is hardly surprising as Newcastle are walking away with it. You my friend are the only person on planet earth who has ever said the words Harper and England in the same sentence!!! As for Robbo, i would take him to south africa, would he start? i think the starting place is waiting to be grabbed by somebody so with a good run of form, yeah why not. Can’t wait for England USA, the americans are making the same mistakes as the last world cup when they claimed the czech’s were past it and learned respect after getting hammered 3-0!!! All you read on this website is England bashing. Bring it on chaps!!!

    • ovalball

      December 31, 2009 at 1:05 pm

      Well, Rob, it seems to me a fair amount of the bashing on this site has come from your own side! I don’t know of anyone who thinks we’re going to somehow walk over England. That’s ludicrous. However, given the right phase of the moon and a few other factors you guys may have more on your hands than you imagine.

      In any event, it should be fun. As you say, bring it on! 🙂

  10. Erich

    December 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I have to believe that if Hart continues to play at the level he has displayed of late, he will be England’s first choice between the sticks.

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