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Blood in the Water

Written By Justin on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 | 10:46:00 AM

Gomes seems to have turned the corner at Spurs, turning in three solid performances in a row. So for now, the media hysteria over his "clangers" has simmered down. But it won't be long before it again comes to a boil, if not over Gomes, then surely one of his Premier League custodial comrades.

The football press may not know much about goalkeeping, but they know what they like: out-of-form goalkeepers. For much of last season, we were treated to the regular evisceration of Paul Robinson. It was not entirely without justification: there can be no doubt that Robbo's form slipped, that he made errors or generally looked unconvincing for both club and country for much of the season. Robbo was the latest in a long line of goalkeepers to get the roast from the media (specifically, the tabloid press).

Before Robbo there was, of course, David James. Few will need reminding of the ups and downs of his career, especially in the 90s at Liverpool, and the cruel "Calamity" moniker. He has rehabilitated his career and reputation to a remarkable degree in recent years, but it takes only one mistake for the eye-rolling and hand-wringing to start again.

Before James there was Bobby Mimms (left), who had the unenviable task of replacing Ray Clemence at Spurs. He was quickly branded a failure, and is still considered so today, despite the fact that he didn't actually do much wrong at Spurs. He did make a mistake or two, but then so did Clem himself, towards the end of his career. The difference was that fans and the press trusted Ray Clemence, so the odd mistake was forgiven. The knives were out for Bobby Mimms from day one.

Bruce Grobbelaar, like Mimms, had to follow in Slim Ray's footsteps, but at Liverpool, back when Liverpool challenged for silverware every season. Criticism of his early performances came fast and heavy, but Bruce had the personality and confidence to carry on. He apparently didn't give a hoot for what the press wrote about him. He won a shedful of trophies, and there are Liverpool fans who will tell you they actually rate him above Clem.

All this started, in my opinion, with Gary Sprake (below), Leeds United's Welsh goalkeeper in the 70s. Sprake was talented, athletic, and prone to clangers. The goal he allowed to squirm under his body at Wembley against Chelsea is the first thing most people think of when they hear his name, and footall writers took delight in documenting his every bobble.

Gomes, Paul Robinson, and let's not forget Scott Carson, who sadly hurts his own England chances every time he gets a cap, have felt the sting of media attacks in recent years. Whether or not it is fair is irrelevant; criticism comes with the territory. They weren't the first, and they won't be the last.

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