World Cup 2010 Predictions: Who Gets Gloves for England—Hart, Green, or James?

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World Cup 2010 Predictions: Who Gets Gloves for England—Hart, Green, or James?
Phil Cole/Getty Images

This is the most intriguing story of the World Cup so far. It was supposed to go away in the USA game. Robert Green was supposed to have a strong game and end the controversy.

But he didn't—and the controversy is more out of control than before.

England fans are all abuzz about who should get the gloves against Algeria on Friday. The issues have changed from the USA game decision. Then, it was James being not 100 percent fit. Green vs. Hart was a decision that came down to cumulative experience so far.

The Algeria decision is a lot more complicated. James is now 100 percent fit and demanding to start. Green is emotionally rocked after a blunder seen around the world. Capello wants to give the start to Joe Hart but cannot bring himself to violate his principles that favor experience.


The Joe Hart Option

If Capello drops Green for the next game, he will effectively only have two keepers for the rest of the campaign. If he picks Hart, he'll have sent a message to James that he doesn't have the confidence of the coach and is third in pecking order.

Essentially, Capello would be down to one keeper by picking Hart. He cannot go back to James or Green if Hart falters. He'll have to live and die by a keeper who has no international experience.

 

The David James Option

Consider the other scenario.

If he gives the gloves to James, he'd still lose Green emotionally. Assume that England make it to the second stage and James falters or is injured.

In a knockout game. Win or go home. Joe Hart?

With no group stage game experience even.

Or Robert Green, the keeper whom he discarded after one bad game with no confidence left. It's also a terrible situation.



Robert Green

The final option: Continue with Robert Green. Yes, that would enrage James. Yes, that would deprive Hart of valuable group stage game experience. If Green cannot recover emotionally—and England fail to advance—Capello will lose his job.

It's really a no-win situation for the coach. He has to live and die with one keeper.

This is the poisoned chalice situation. If he takes the gloves away from Green and Hart crumbles, he cannot go back to Green in game three anymore. That leaves James as the only option—and vice versa if he chooses James and then Hart.

So three keepers in three games.

That's a total farce. It's a laughing stock situation. It's a total revolving door and Capello cannot be sucked into that situation.

Should the choice now be Green, James, or Hart?

We're back to the same question we had at the beginning of this note. Unfortunately, as with many dilemmas, the roots go farther than what is visible.

Capello should have sorted out this situation in the qualifying stages. Yes, I hate to get into the "shoulda, coulda, woulda" argument. But there is lots of truth to it.

He created this goalkeeper controversy by not making a decisive choice earlier in the process. If he really wanted to develop Hart, he should have played him more in the qualifying games so that he didn't enter the World Cup with no experience.

If he wanted Robert Green as his top choice, he should not have included James in the final World Cup squad because that's a distraction to Green and the rest of the team. 

Personally, if I had to make this decision—presented with three poison chalices—I'd go with my gut feeling and choose the keeper that I'm most impressed with in training.

Forget about experience. Forget about everything else. Just pick the man who impresses you the most and looks most ready to play the next game.

That man has always been Hart. He's had a brilliant season domestically. He's confident and waiting for his chance. He is the future of England at goalkeeping.

His time has come.

His destiny has been thrust upon him by circumstance.

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