Robert Green no longer looks like a Premier League standard goalkeeper, but that’s fortunate, because if he stays at West Ham, he may not have to be for much longer. Green’s inability to hold on to a straightforward free-kick against Chelsea ended with gifting Salomon Kalou one of the most comical goals of the season, but as with Green’s horrendous mistake at the World Cup, the high-profile clanger only took the attention away from the other glaring weaknesses that mar his game.
After the abuse he received for his displays in South Africa, it’s would be understandable if Green wasn’t exactly feeling like a world-beater at present. The sanctimonious bullying from the tabloid press would be enough to demolish the confidence, but in the case of top class goalkeepers, mental strength has been and always will be required when things need to be turned around. From his display against Chelsea, it looks unlikely that Green has the fortitude to battle through this difficult period in his career and come out on the other side as a better player. As balls fizzed head high across his six yard box, he looked remarkably reluctant to put himself in the firing line and take command. He looked to be cowering and hoping the game would pass him by without asking him too many questions. It’s the equivalent of an outfield player turning his back every time there’s a chance for him to get on the ball or turning to a lifetime of celibacy because you were once rejected by a woman.
The truth is Green’s best displays came in the Championship for Norwich and his elevation to the England number 1 spot came from hanging around long enough. As the players ahead of him in the pecking order continued to make errors, he was bound to get his chance before too long. His elevation to first choice of the national team may have hindered in so much as there was too much expected from him. Since arriving in the top flight, his stats haven’t been helped by playing behind various defences united through their paper-like robustness, but beyond that there have been problems. At times he has looked sluggish, lacking in agility and average at best when it comes to his ball handling skills. However, Green is a capable and undoubtedly brave goalkeeper when it comes to decisions on the pitch, but he needs to transfer some of that courage to the mental side of his game. It’s not fun, but his only option is to play his way back into form.