This is one that Green should drop

By Martin Samuel, September 28, 2010
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There is an Italian television programme called La lene, on which guests are required to give instant answers to questions about their personality. Carlo Ancelotti, affable, well-liked manager of Chelsea, appeared during his time as coach of AC Milan.

"Name something you always wanted to do but never did," said the questioner. "Beat up a journalist," Ancelotti replied.

So we know. We understand. Even Ancelotti, one of the most respected and sociable men in the game, can get a little snippy with the critics. Paul Gascoigne once told me he had contemplated waiting for the bloke from the Daily Mirror with a sock full of lead. I didn't think ill of him for it, though. So had I.

At the time, Gascoigne would have been bludgeoning from a position of strength as a crowd favourite and the most talented English footballer of his generation. This is not something likely to be said of goalkeeper Robert Green, the latest to vent his fury in the direction of the press box after West Ham United's win over Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.

In Green's case, this was his first wholly credible performance since June 12, when he chucked one in during England's opening World Cup game against the United States. Since then, in his first four club appearances of the season, he conceded three goals in each game, and then had a bit of a flaky afternoon in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City. There followed the stormer last weekend and a gesture to the press box that defied misinterpretation. Fair enough, dish it out and you have to take it; but Green would have been better off giving Avram Grant a cuddle rather than the media seats the bird. It was Grant, his manager, who stayed loyal when many would have turned cold. I like Green, too. I agreed when Fabio Capello made him his first-choice in South Africa, and disagreed when he abandoned him after a single mistake. Green handled that situation with dignity and, considering this, his poor start back home was surprising. Even so, I understood why Grant persevered - at first.

After the game with Stoke, however, there was a strong case to reconsider; particularly as West Ham then won in the Carling Cup at Sunderland with Marek Stech in goal. Grant's hunch was rewarded, but must have shuddered when he saw Green's reaction at the end of the Tottenham game. It was not the behaviour of a man putting the past behind him. If Green's head was right he would know that one good game proves nothing. It is a season of quiet accomplishment from the goalkeeper that West Ham need, not a decent match in five, followed by a gesture of defiant self-aggrandisement.

Green no doubt feels maligned - although why, heaven knows, his mistakes were obvious and avoidable and the criticism was professional, not personal - but West Ham cannot afford to have such an important player taking the field with a head full of vendettas, particularly against people who are irrelevant. After such a show, all eyes will now be on him again against Fulham, which only adds to the post World Cup pressure. Sadly, there is no guarantee yet that Green can deal with it.

    Last updated: 1:42pm, September 28 2010