A third MOTM performance of the season from Jack Butland has rightfully earned him many plaudits, with some saying he will challenge Joe Hart for the number 1 jersey at next year’s Euros.
This comes on a weekend where the Manchester City goalkeeper nearly gifted a point to lowly visitors Norwich with a calamitous error, dropping the ball at the feet of Cameron Jerome. Had Yaya Toure not rescued the game with a late penalty, City would be two points worse off and Hart would have been subject to immense criticism.
I wonder how many hours sleep England managers have lost over goalkeeping mistakes. At first it was the pony’s teeth versus the pony tail when Ronaldinho caught David Seaman off his line to break England hearts in South Korea in 2002, audaciously chipping him from a free kick. Then there was Gary Neville’s perfectly weighted backpass to Paul Robinson, that was before it hit a divot and bobbled over Robinson’s foot, trickling into the England net. Scott Carson made a woeful error on his debut against Croatia when a tame shot from Nico Kranjcar bounced inches before him, causing him to deflect the ball into the top corner. This mistake led to defeat, costing England a place at a major tournament for the first time since not qualifying for the 1994 WC held in the USA. Rob Green joined the party in South Africa 2010, when he failed to hold a feeble Clint Dempsey effort, before desperately clawing at the ball to keep it out. Green’s howler left Fabio Capello stewing after gifting a point to the American’s in the group stage.
Thankfully over the past few years, Joe Hart has cemented himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, putting in vital match saving performances both in Europe and in domestic competition. Saturday’s error shows that he is human, and it may only be a matter of time until he makes an inevitable England gaffe. Could it be time to stick the wise beyond his years Jack Butland between the sticks? The 22 year old tops the Premier League save chart with 46 stops to his name, keeping 3 clean sheets in the process. Former pros up and down the country have been singing his praises as the future of England goalkeeping. Joining Stoke from Birmingham in January 2013 for £3.3million, Butland seemed keen to go out on loan to get first team football in order to develop his game. Loan spells at former club Birmingham, Barnsley, Leeds and Derby have paid dividends for the man as he has been rewarded with a starting spot at Stoke following Asmir Begovic’s summer departure, and his first two England games, with no doubt many more to follow.
Having been so solid for England in his 55 caps thus far, it would be extremely hasty for Hart to be ousted as first choice at the moment, as England are heavily reliant on his experience. Only Wayne Rooney and James Milner have more caps out of the current crop, and only until Hart begins to look shaky on a regular basis should Roy consider starting Butland in competitive matches. A full 90 minutes against Spain or France in England’s upcoming friendlies would not go amiss however, only serving to give Butland more game time at the very highest level, something in which he is undoubtedly chomping at the bit to get more of.