England rejoices. Paul Robinson is out as England goalkeeper--at least for tonight's friendly against Austria, which is four days ahead of a do-or-die Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia. Youngster Scott Carson gets the call and Robinson sits, much to the glee of the fans and pundits who've watched shaky play between the posts from Robinson for months. It's safe to say the McClaren-Robinson connection has made England's posture in Euro 2008 tenuous.
McClaren need look no further than the mess former U.S. women's coach Greg Ryan made at the women's World Cup with his goalkeeping situation to understand how closely tied a coach's tenure his with keeper. Ryan, to review, inexplicably pulled Hope Solo in favor of grandma Brianna Scurry in the World Cup semifinals against Brazil. The result was a 4-0 loss to Brazil, anger and dissension from Solo and ultimately, Ryan sitting on the unemployment line.
England needs a hopeless scenario of help to qualify for the continental championship, and surely McClaren's days are equally as numbered. Bottom line: A coach needs to put his best players on the pitch in order to give them the best chance to win. Paul Robinson is not the best England has, yet McClaren stubbornly sends Robinson out there figuring the odds are with him and things will eventually turn around. Robinson doesn't have the make-up to be a high-profile national team coach. Just ask Tottenham fans. Robinson is signed there through 2012, and for its investment,
Tottenham is mired in 14th place in the Premiership with 11 points and 24 goals against. Only one club has given up more: bottom dweller Derby County with one win and six points. By the way, that's one win fewer than Tottenham.
Is it all Robinson's fault? Of course not. But winning breeds winning, and Robinson obviously doesn't raise his game when conditions are adverse. It will be interesting to see how Carson does tonight. Carson's doing well with Aston Villa, which is on the cusp of a spot in Europe next year. McClaren, however, has put himself in a no-win situation. If Carson does well, the clamoring for him to be in goal against Croatia is going to be deafening. If Carson fails, McClaren is almost forced to go with Robinson--which is likely his plan any way--and another shaky outing not only seals McClaren's fate as England manager, but resigns fans to the fact that the national team won't be involved in the game's second biggest tournament.