Don't get me wrong. The butterfingered backstop cost England a goal against the USA. He knows that, and he's been man enough to admit it. (Some have rather cruelly pointed out his handling of the criticism has been better than his handling of the Jabulani.) But what I wonder is whether he deserved what he got yesterday morning. The sarky little jokes are, I suppose, ahem, par for the course:
Although long-lens pap pictures of someone playing a round of golf...? I suppose the one thing that would really annoy you more than anything when you're trying to get over the biggest error of your entire career is knowing that some bastard with a massive camera is following you around a golf course, praying that you'll drop your golf ball, or slip over. I suppose it's not the worst kind of intrusion, but it's still a bit mean. We know what Rob Green looks like without having to see him playing golf on his day off.
What Green really didn't deserve, though, was this:
What is fairly sinister is that the story of Green's 'love split' seems like it was ready to go, and that the papers were just waiting for a suitable opportunity to publish - like when he made a big error in a match. (Charming of the Mirror, by the way, to call his ex-partner 'one' as if she's just like a football.) It's as if the England players will be under even more pressure now - make a big error, become the inevitable scapegoat, and you'll end up with your private life all over the red-tops as well.
The other thing that gets me is the way the Sun claims Green 'hid' his personal life. As if not trumpeting all your personal agonies to the tabloids is 'hiding' it. How dare he have a private life! How dare he hide it from us by thinking it belongs to him, or that he might have a choice about these things!
But then these are those barmy days of World Cups when the Silly Season news gulf gets filled with footballing flim-flam. News is sport; sport is news. The sports reporters attempt to attack Fabio Capello for not revealing his team until 2 hours before the game - not because it actually damages the team, but because it means they're left in the dark and don't have exclusive inside tracks to report to their sportsdesks back home; so they have to guess and get made to look like mugs if they get it wrong. Rob Green is attacked by news for 'hiding' his private life, not because there's anything wrong with that but because they feel entitled to a piece of his personal agonies and woes to fill some empty space in the front end of the paper.
So who's next for the long lens on the golf course treatment? And what other tawdry stories are tucked away, ready to go as soon as an England star makes a mistake? England had better hope they start winning, or the feelgood factor will turn to poison. And even if they do win, they won't be safe from it.
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