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Who Should be England’s Next Goalkeeper?

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Paul Robinson’s crucifixation has started again, and combined with ‘that goal’ in the Croatia game as well as the short term memory of the press hacks calling for the recall of David James – these people seem to have forgotten that they hounded David James out the same way and for the same reasons that they’re chasing Robinson out right now.

I’ve said for some time that Robinson does not command his box as well as other top keepers and his decision-making is lacking at times – so I’m not surprised to see him under pressure. What I am surprised to see is the fact that McClaren is thinking of recalling David James (as he gave him 45 minutes against Germany – which would otherwise have gone to Carson). Sure, he’s experienced but then isn’t Steve McClaren supposed to experienced as well? Has he forgotten why James got the boot in the first place?

I like David James as a person but he’s not the smartest bloke on the field and when you’re the keeper this can cost your team quite a bit.

Who can replace Paul Robinson then? I’ve already talked about David James but we also have four more names available to us: Robert Green, Scott Carson, Ben Foster and Chris Kirkland.

At this point Ben Foster is injured and out till December, but he’s the most likely of the four to be the long-term successor for Paul Robinson. Chris Kirkland has been out of favour for a while because of his injury problems and for my money it should be Green, Kirkland and Carson duking it out for the England #1 shirt, not David James. He’s had his time, he somewhat blew it and now if we’re going to recall him it will cut out the opportunities of younger and possibly better keepers.

The thing working against Kirkland and Carson at this point is their lack of international experience (which makes Jamo’s case stronger and might just keep Robinson in his place). Green has had more time to play in the league and could be a safer bet but I doubt that McClaren looks at Green as a long term option.

As an England fan, I’d prefer giving a fresh player a shot at the jersey – and it might be a good idea to give Green, Carson or Kirkland the jersey and let them have a run with it during the qualifiers. The hard reality is that despite his experience James has been underwhelming as England keeper and Robinson has clear flaws in his game that haven’t improved in the last two years.

If McClaren isn’t going to pick Green / Carson / Kirkland, then it makes absolutely no sense to drop Robinson based on ‘that’ goal – it was a culmination of defensive errors and Robinson got caught out when he could have been better protected by his midfielders and defenders. Like Wenger said, you don’t banish keepers on one or two mistakes, and Robinson overall has been reliable and has suffered some criticism because of the mistakes of the players in front of him.

It’s hard for me to say much against James but Robinson hasn’t done enough to deserve being sacked (unless McClaren thinks he sucks, which I doubt he does) and in any case, there are more players who are both deserving AND potentially more reliable than David James.

I also think that the main reason McClaren would hesitate to pick anyone other than Robinson or James at this point is because he sees Ben Foster as the future England #1 and because he’s gone with the ‘experience’ theme because in his view it’s the best bet to qualify for Euro 2008 (and save his own job). If his initial experiments had gone well with England we might have seen a more adventurous Steve McClaren but the one we have now is conservative and fearful of trying out new things. Which could be good, in some cases (3-5-2 in Croatia) but bad in others (moving Richards to center-back at half-time against Germany and not adapting to the match situation which warranted that Richards continue playing at right-back).

What do you guys think? Should Robinson be replaced? And if so, with whom?

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