by Liam McConville
As Spurs cruised to their first league win of the season, talk of player unrest was ripe and threatened to overshadow an impressive win. As the French No 1, Hugo Lloris cut a glum figure on the bench, the evergreen Brad Friedel impressed with the gloves again, giving the new signing an indication of the challenge he faces to secure a regular starting place. Lloris, a £12million deadline day signing from Lyon has already expressed his frustrations at not immediately being in the first team.
Lloris’ national team manager, Didier Deschamps brought the goalkeeper’s issues into the open last week. Lloris being on the bench will be a concern to Deschamps and his comments added fire to the flames of a potentially volatile situation. Both Lloris and Friedel can both make a compelling argument as to why they deserve to be in the team, it’s an issue that simply won’t go away.
Andre Villas-Boas has stated that Lloris is the long-term goalkeeper for Spurs and rightfully so. Lloris is an immensely talented goalkeeper and would walk into most teams in Europe, but Brad Friedel continues to excel between the sticks and is seemingly going to remain in the team for now. However it appears that long-term option and a probable lengthy spell on the bench is not what Lloris was expecting. He could possibly argue that he was brought to the club on false pretences if he continues to sit on the side-lines and unless he finds himself in the team soon, it would appear to be somewhat of an odd signing.
It’s not like Spurs are lacking in goalkeeping options, Gomes and Carlo Cudicini are also both still at White Hart Lane and to have four goalkeepers at that quality does seem almost absurd. Gomes should have been moved on during the summer window, the fact that the situation stands as it is suggests Spurs’ transfer business was rushed. Daniel Levy is a shrewd man but his consistent desire to leave transfer dealings late on in the window may just have cost him this time.
The protracted saga that was Luka Modric’s move to the Bernabeu was not an ideal start to the season, his departure freed up the funds that prompted Spurs’ late transfer dealings. The swift nature of it all seemed to unsettle the squad a little, it will take a while for everyone to be able to settle down at White Hart Lane.
Quite bizarrely some newspapers went as far as reporting that Villas-Boas had just three games to save his job before the Reading game. These sorts of stories are clearly ludicrous and the sort of negative press that the Portuguese boss gets at times is hard to understand. He hasn’t been in North London long and similar to his stint at Chelsea, he has immediately gone about ruffling some feathers but to suggest his job is already on the line is just plain daft. He is starting the season without arguably two of Spurs’ most influential players from last season, Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart and he deserves to cut some slack because of this.
AVB’s predecessor, Harry Redknapp can probably feel hard done by to receive the axe from Spurs over the summer. However this change appears to show a shift in transfer policy again. Levy used the situation to wrestle back more control over transfers after Spurs were widely ridiculed for their business last January. Levy will now have more power than he would have had if Redknapp was still in charge. This new era does appear somewhat fragmented at the moment but this is probably just teething problems and not the sign of widespread confusion in the club.
Personally I feel that Villas-Boas will thrive at Spurs as long as he is given the required time to implement his philosophies upon the squad. Surely he will have learned from his chastening experience at Stamford Bridge and will not be as naïve this time. It is worth remembering that Villas-Boas has only been in management since 2009, he is still learning and will continue to make some mistakes.
AVB has to face up to the fact that he will always have his doubters until he achieves major success on these shores. However his man-management skills will be tested to the limit by this current goalkeeping situation. Keeping both Friedel and Lloris happy looks to be nigh on impossible, neither will be happy sat on the bench, for Villas-Boas and Spurs’ sake he needs to find a short-term truce to defuse the issue for now.
We will not have heard the end of this situation, how the Portuguese handles it may prove to be one of the defining moments of his tenure at White Hart Lane.