England’s No.1?

Posted on January 3rd, 2010 | 33 Comments |

Hoping for a bigger trophy?
Hoping for a bigger trophy?
According to his column in the Mail on Sunday, Gary Lineker reckons Newcastle’s very own Steve Harper can be the next Steve Bull. Well not quite, but he does believe that Fabio Capello should cast an eye to the Championship doldrums, if he’s worried about his World Cup custodian as he faces a dearth in quality goalkeeprs.

While there have been other examples, Sir Bobby Robson notably selected Steve Bull to represent England in the 1990 World Cup despite him playing in the second flight at the time. And Lineker believes that Capello would do well to follow the example of not ignoring those outside the Premiership, provided they’re capable enough.

Lineker wrote:

“I wonder if Fabio Capello might take a leaf out of Bobby Robson’s book by casting his eye over a player who is excelling in the Championship while rivals are floundering in the Premier League.

“Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper has been one of the main reasons his side are heading back to the top flight.

“Finding goalkeepers is a world problem because of the way the game has changed, particularly in the movement of the ball.

“I’ve seen even the best, like Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, have nightmares this season. So why not look at Harper? He’s solid, dependable and I know Alan Shearer rates him. But as far as I have seen, he hasn’t been mentioned.

“Having understudied Shay Given for years, he will not be fazed by sitting on the bench and staying focused if needed at a second’s notice.”

Lineker makes some valid points and it’s good to see Harps getting some recognition after a good start to the season. And he’s right, in as much Harper as well as being on top of his own game, he appears to have his defence well organised, such that we’ve got the best defensive record in the division and he’s kept a number of clean sheets.

There have always been question marks over Harper’s ambition, as some fans argue that it is a lack of ambition, rather than a sense of loyalty that has meant he’s remained at St James’ for his entire game, despite playing less than 200 games in that time.

However, there’s no doubting that his ambition would stretch to representing his country should he get the call. And with England struggling to find quality in a position we’ve always been fairly strong in, Harper would surely be a good shout. While I’m not convinced Harps is international class, James and Robinson are always apt to drop a clanger while Green, Kirkland and Foster are arguably no better than Harper, who has the advantage of maturity and experience on his side.

As as far as Newcastle United is concerned, our focus is on promotion and all that matters for now is selfishly black and white biased. Harper would undoubtedly take speculation in his stride, even if something like this turned up. It’s probably unlikely that he’ll get that dream call from Capello, but stranger things have happened…

NUFCBlog Author: bowburnmag bowburnmag has written 234 articles on this blog.

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33 Responses

  1. Great, great goalkeeper, bloke, and servant to the club for all these years. I sincerely hope that through every disaster Harper has pursued with us, relegation just about topping it off, he finally gets his reward as a return campaign to the Premier League sees him No. 1 for both us and England next summer. I haven’t seen him put a foot wrong apart from the obvious Alonso blip years ago which is forgiveable compared to the fantastic saves and reassurance he provides the defence.

  2. I’d love him to get a call up but i very much doubt its going to happen. Unfortunately Harps’s loyalty has gone against him representing his country. I’d like to bet if he jacked in with us all them years back, then he would be 1st choice in the prem for someone and be an England option.

    On the plus side, Geremi has gone! 60k per week off the wages. I wonder if we got any cash for him or if its a loan? Either way, as i say, its money off the wage bill meaning the large lad is less likely to flog any real key players. Downside is that its another squad player down, albeit in a position that we are well covered in.

  3. The 2 best english keepers on current form are, our very own steve harper and the young joe hart who is playing excellent on loan at birmingham, but capello will probably ignore both and opt for the unreliable dross they have had in recent england sqauds.

  4. We are celabrating getting geremi off the books and wage bill, are we all turning into mike ashley???

  5. It’s funny you should say that, Jay Jay, because I believe Capello has formed a reputation of distancing himself from picking the “untouchables – the big stars”. Hasn’t he already called up numerous lower division players such as Michael Mancienne and some League 1 goalkeeper?

  6. John – Rexn is a good lad and always pens a great article, his knowledge and stats are always impressive! It’s a persuasive argument!

  7. If the powers that be don’t know the ‘keeper stats, then they’re not doing their jobs & if they are aware, then they must pick Harper.

  8. “Allowed to leave”? I would have been happier if we got a fee for him, but I suppose the wage bill makes up for that.

  9. bowburnmag says:
    January 3, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    “John – Rexn is a good lad and always pens a great article, his knowledge and stats are always impressive! It’s a persuasive argument!”

    Bowburn, you can’t compare statistics for players who are playing in different leagues, otherwise you could start arguing things like Peter Whittingham is better than Stephen Gerrard and stuff like that.

  10. Daan4tooN – inevitable really? But surprised by the timing. Geremi didn’t have the legs when we signed him as highly publicised and has done nowhere near enough to justify his wages.

  11. It wasn’t really a direct comparison though? He provided stats and delivered summaries to promote Harper’s case.

  12. Bowburn, it looked like his case was based mostly on stats to me, and the stats were completely flawed because he forgot about the most fundamental issue. I’m not saying that Harper isn’t a great goalkeeper though, just that this fellow’s method of arguing his case is fundametally flawed.

  13. All this Beckford thing’s getting a bit out of hand now.

    Neil Warnock on the FA Cup show:

    “He (Beckford) is like Berbatov with pace.”

    Presenter: “Is he a thirty million pound player then?”


  14. Beckford’s got 20 goals though and Berbatov’s only got 4. Beckford has proved he can score against Man Utd this season whereas Berbatov hasn’t.

    I think the stats tell the story pretty well…;)

  15. I like the article and I feel it raises a good point that he should get a look in, but for me it would be just down to the form he has been in this season. You can’t go comparing stats inbetween leagues because there is no comparison. For instance after 24 games (League) last season we had cenceeded 40 goals, whereas this season after 24 games (League) we have conceeded 14. Does this make Harper better than Given? Or is it just the sheer fact that Yes Harper has played well, but also our defence isn’t torn to shreds by the attackers in the championship as it was in the Premiership last term?
    All that aside, I would love to see Big Steve in a 3 Lions No. 1 shirt!!!

  16. Looked like a fair summary to me. Forgot about Carson at West Brom being capped, and it does seem to be a good argument that a keeper needs games and confidence. England doesn’t have much in the way of consistent keepers at the moment.

    Good job offloading Geremi anyway.

  17. You could never question Shearer’s ambition for coming to Newcastle so why would people question Steve Harper for staying??? He is surely the finest example of a committed player – unlike Seamus.

    I have always thought that Harper is just as good a shot stopper as Shay Given, anyway – nearly. In Shay’s absence, before it all went tits up last season, Harper always put in a good shift for us.

    Harper’s confidence has shone this season and he’s doing a cracking job as results are showing.
    If given the chance, I would not feel worried in the slightest seeing him between the sticks for England.

  18. Hey where are the England goalies ?
    Harper is probably as good as most out there, dont understand it, since the days of Frank Swift, who ?
    England has always produced great goalies, what went wrong.

    If he Harper was as good as Seamus, how come he sat on the bench for ten years, let`s not get carried away here and face it we are not defending against PL sides.

  19. Look to-days game was an aberration, sure Beckford scored, great, I`m happy for the kid, he must be on the high of his life.
    But it does`nt make him Berbatov.
    So lets not get carried away, eh!

  20. chuck – You raise a good point about Beckford and the 1 game thing. Unfortunately, your point will fall on deaf ears of anyone thinking of selling him such as Ken Bates, who will now see the opportunity to get more money for the boy. Despite yesterday, its still a gambke signing Beckford, if we do. How many players have come from non-league and cut it in the prem? Not many. Currently i can think of Jimmy Bullard. The championship has a few more, such as Aaron McClean and George Boyd at Peterborough, and i’d imagine League 1 has even more.

    Its a fine balancing act really. We need to get players who can help finish the job off this season, and i think Beckford can help in that department, but we also need to have at least half of one eye looking at the premiership. Can he consistently do a job there? I guess we need to wait and see.

  21. Back in the the day – Kerry Dixon, Iain Dowie, Alan Pardew.

    Ever so slightly more recently – Mackem Phillips, Steve Guppy, Stan Collymore

    More recently – DJ Campbell