Manager on Monday

Having taken 272 league and cup games to save his first penalty, Robert Green has now incredibly stopped three in his last ten outings

After seeing his once-capped England goalkeeper thwart former West Ham United striker Jermain Defoe in added time at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday afternoon, manager Alan Curbishley wasted no time in hailing Green's amazing hat-trick of spot-kick stops.

"Greeny's been fantastic all season," said the manager following the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur that extended his side's unbeaten run to half-a-dozen matches. "He's been very consistent and, yet again, he made some good saves.

"[On Saturday night], we sat down and looked at Spurs' last two penalties, which were both taken by Robbie Keane, who put them in two different places. But, luckily, we also had another look at the one that Jermain Defoe took against him last season and perhaps that's why he decided to dive that way.

"It was a decent game and, in the end, a draw was probably a fair result but it would've been very harsh if we'd been beaten in the last minute. You live and die by the referee's decisions and he had two big ones to make today. Some would say that Mike Riley got one wrong and one right, I don't know?" continued Curbishley.

He had seen Keane's vociferous first-half appeal waved away by referee Riley before Defoe's added-time stumble prompted the official to point to the spot. "For the first one, I thought that Robbie was offside and I was waiting for the flag to go up. Once he flicked it over Robert Green, there may have been a bit of contact but I think Keane perhaps only realised that there was that bit of contact once the ball was going wide.

"I could see why the referee gave the second one, though, because he was at an angle where Defoe was masked by Lucas Neill but, like most people in the crowd, I thought he'd awarded a goal-kick. Greeny has certainly come out of the game feeling a lot happier and he definitely redeemed himself for their goal, when he came for the ball and got beaten by Michael Dawson. Up until then, I just couldn't see their equaliser coming because as the game wore on, we were just getting stronger and stronger.

"When you decide to move off your goal-line like that, though, you just have to get the ball but he's said sorry and has also made up for it with both his all-round performance and that penalty save." Certainly, with so much uncertainty hanging over England's No1 shirt, Steve McClaren's eventual successor will be hard-pressed to ignore Green if he keeps up his superlative club form.

"As I've said, Robert's been playing very well all season and that's all he can keep doing," added Curbishley. "I don't think that he's got any hang-ups about the England thing - the bottom line is play and perform and the manager will pick you."

Indeed, that is the philosophy down West Ham way, too, where team selection is a delicate balance between picking those in-form squad men who have served the manager so well in recent weeks, and choosing the more experienced names who are finally making a welcome return to fitness.

"I'm delighted with players such as Carlton Cole, who have come in and done a job for me and, although some of the others are now coming back, it's difficult trying to integrate them into the team.

"We've also got people who are playing out of position, while others are having to get fit just by playing in the first-team. Mark Noble and Hayden Mullins got pitched into the side and they really dug in for a tough game against a resurgent Spurs side, who are now playing with a bit more freedom than they were a while ago.

"I'm delighted with my boys. Spurs may have had a lot of possession but they never really opened us up and I felt that if we just could've strung three or four passes together on the break, then we might have won the game," concluded Curbishley, who now faces a second successive London derby at Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime. "We dropped two points in the 93rd-minute in our last home against Bolton Wanderers and that felt like a defeat but after seeing Greeny make that late penalty save it was more like a win."

  • To see the manager's post-match press conference and hear from Hayden Mullins, click here.