Well I thought the Tomkins article was relatively uncontroversial, given I concluded he was a future England captain, but some still accused me of being negative and overly critical, so I approach this assessment of Green with a degree of trepidation. I realise that daring to find fault with Green amongst West Ham fans is the equivalent of showing up in Mecca for Hag with a copy of the Satanic Verses for a "holiday read" but I have never been one for allowing Orthodoxy of any form, Greek, Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Claret & Blue Klan to silence me, so here goes!
To begin, Green is a great shot stopper. Along with Friedal, James, Cech, Jaskelinen and Kirkland, he is up there with the very best in the Prem. He is agile, has strong hands and knows his angles, making it very difficult for any shot to get past him. So far so good. But does that mean he is an international quality keeper? Well, there is the rub.
If you can endure it, watch a tape of the Blackburn game through again. See how flustered Greenie looked as those crosses were boomed into our box and how passive he was when faced by the deliberate obstruction by Diouf. Now imagine for a moment Diouf trying that tactic with Van de Saar, Cech, Reina or Almunia. You can bet your life that the Spiteful Spitter would be manhandled the first time he tried it and the keeper would go down in a heap holding his face. Diouf would see yellow immediately and be warned not to repeat. What did Green do? He blinked a few times, looked puzzled and tried to reach round Diouf for the ball like a Tesco shopper trying to get a can of beans without disturbing the shelf stacker. He made a complete hash of one and got away with it, and the referee felt sorry for him and gave a free kick the second time it happened - ignoring the fact that Diouf did not move a muscle and so could not possibly have committed a foul. But Green did nothing to win that free kick, he wasn't protesting, he wasn't demanding protection, he wasn't imposing himself on the officials, his own defenders or El Spitter, he was just blinking and looking confused. The guy is too nice for his own good!
And he is not just too nice when it comes to officials and opponents, Green is also too quiet and understanding when interacting with his own defenders. How often have you seen him rollock anybody? Keepers should be generals of the penalty box, shouting orders to the defenders and giving them what's for if they fail in their defensive duties. The closest Green comes to reprimanding anybody is that arms half open gesture, supported by a slightly quizzical look and three blinks of the eyes. When he does this he looks slightly hurt and confused, like a Labrador ordered from the sofa by a bad tempered owner. I suspect that Schmeichel like rants may sometimes be counter productive if too frequently used but I would like to see Green let go sometimes, berating a colleague for failing to track an opponent. To move to the next level, Green has to be in control of others as well as himself and I never feel that he is. He is reactive, rather than proactive in my book.
Then there is the problem under crosses. I doubt anybody has saved a copy of the West Brom game (why would you?) but if there are any masochists out there, look at that elbow in the face Green collected. It was a foul, no doubt about that, but that isn't the point. The cross was bulk standard, was inside the six yard box but, foul or no, Green was never going to collect it in a million years. He was well under the ball, clutching at thin air, when the elbow connected and endangered his cheek bone whilst saving his blushes. If this was a one off, no problem, all keepers make mistakes and even Cech has dropped a couple of crosses. The trouble is, Green is vulnerable under crosses - his decision making is suspect and it is an identified weakness that Allardyce and Blackburn were deliberately seeking to exploit on Saturday. He has improved his game in this critical area this season - the gaff against Bolton at Upton Park was, I suspect, a wake up call to Clarke and led to Miklosko being told to put in some extra work with Green; but he is still not confident under crosses and still seems to misjudge whether to stick or twist when a ball is played in close to the edge of his six yard box.
"So what?" I hear you ask. "Look at James, he isn't called Calamity for nothing." True, but there is a difference. James has no actual weaknesses in his game save the tendency to make the odd complete, risible howler and you cannot plan your tactics around an unpredictable howler. Green, on the other hand, has an identifiable flaw in his technique and that can be exploited if the tactics are right.
So how good is Green? Very good. The best qualified England keeper? Sadly I think not. Personally I rate James and Kirkland ahead of him and suspect that Foster may overtake him in the pecking order ahead of the World Cup finals. I hope I am wrong and look forward to hearing the opinions of others.