Comment - Conundrums continue for Capello
Published : 13 Jun 2010 08:19:20
Fabio Capello cannot say he was not warned.
Just about everyone in football had been telling him for the past couple of years that his goalkeeping position was his weakest link.
But no-one could have predicted that those warnings would come to pass in such spectacular fashion in a captivating 1-1 draw against the USA.
Poor Robert Green. You have to feel for him. You have to have sympathy when someone sees their world collapse at the pinnacle of their career. But the stark truth is that you cannot win a World Cup with a dodgy goalkeeper. You cannot throw in goals. Not from tame shots from 25 yards which Capello's wife would quite comfortably have dealt with.
Green, to the collective bewilderment of the thousands of England fans in the Royal Bafokeng stadium and millions of viewers back home, let Clint Dempsey's shot spin from his arms and trickle agonisingly over the line.
It's not the first time a goalkeeper's howler has been the talking point among England fans. And while Green's error may not be terminal in terms of the tournament the problem is now exposed like a festering sore. Does Capello drop Green and almost certainly shatter his confidence? Does he play injury-prone David James? Does he switch to unproven Joe Hart?
It is the last sort of conundrum you need with the vuvuzelas at full blast so you can hardly hear yourself think and the World Cup pressure increasing by the day.
If only it was Capello's only problem. But the substitutions which saw James Milner replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips after half an hour and Ledley King by Jamie Carragher at half-time suggests Capello is still wrestling to find his best team.
Green's error was all the more disappointing because it robbed England of their rhythm after a wonderful start. A swift throw, a flick from Wayne Rooney, a sweet move from Emile Heskey to steal two yards of space on USA defender Jay DeMerit before slipping the ball precisely into the path of Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool skipper did the rest, flicking the ball home with the outside of his right foot.
At a stroke Capello's selection of Heskey was vindicated.