“Bonjour! I am Hugo Lloris, I’m the goalkeeper and the captain of the France football team. I joined Tottenham Hotspur last August to play in the Premier League but I have only had one game. Instead, a forty one year old American keeps his place in the team and I only get to play in the Europa League matches and a Capital One Cup game when Brad is rested. My international manager is not happy that I am not playing for Tottenham in every game. Get me out of White Hart Lane!”
Things haven’t turned out quite as Hugo Lloris would have expected when he came to London and signed for Tottenham at the end of August. There was consternation in France that Lloris who made over 200 appearances for Nice and Lyon and has 42 international caps wasn’t installed immediately as Tottenham’s ‘number 1′. After Brad Friedel’s performance against Norwich at the beginning of September, Andre Villas-Boas indicated that there was no guarantee that the American would step aside so Lloris would have to compete for the position. The French manager, Didier Deschamps gave his opinion,
“Lloris did not appreciate Villas-Boas’s statements. I saw what Villas-Boas said and if I comment on this, it is going to echo on the other side of the Channel, but it surprised me. You all know the value of Hugo. I do not know what will happen but I hope everything goes well for him.”
At every international break there has been further comments from Deschamps questioning the wisdom of Lloris joining Tottenham.
“His situation to me appears incomprehensible. We are not talking about a young goalkeeper but a guy who has been the France keeper for several years. The problem is that he jumped on the train when it had already left the station and he did not start the season. The really important thing is that a player speaks directly with his coach and if Hugo had done that, maybe he would not have signed for Tottenham.”
The problem for AVB is that Brad Friedel has done nothing wrong in the League matches that he’s played. He’s done nothing that merits him being dropped, in fact, some of his performances have won him the Man of the Match and even in defeat his display can rarely be questioned. Friedel responded angrily to criticism from France about the goalkeeping situation at Tottenham.
Some Tottenham supporters who want Lloris installed in the team argue that Friedel could have done better where certain goals were concerned and that a younger goalkeeper could have reacted quicker and made a save. That, however, is simply a matter of conjecture and opinion. Adding to Villas-Boas’ difficulty when considering leaving Friedel out is that his new, younger goalkeeper hasn’t been faultless in the games where he has player. The Maribor goal is an obvious example while some would question his part in Norwich’s winning goal in the Cup tie. Lloris has kept Tottenham’s only clean sheet in the Premier League this season in his one match, against Aston Villa, but even then he was fortunate that a misplaced throw out didn’t lead to Villa taking the lead when their striker, Benteke, headed wide from a good position.
While Lloris has not shown his true form with Tottenham, he has continued to perform for France. In the recent internationals against Japan and Spain he was outstanding, with a number of saves including a penalty against Spain as France fought back to earn a draw against the World Champions. Now, with another international break, rumours have suggested that Lloris will look to move away from Tottenham in the January transfer window with former team mates urging him to leave Spurs.
Deschamps continues to air his views on the matter.
“It is a hard situation for him. Being benched after the performance he made with us in Spain is difficult, cumbersome for him. He is a competitor and he cannot be satisfied playing only one game out of two or three.”
“From my national coach point of view, even from a French point of view, we may say that his situation is impossible to understand. But at the moment, Villas-Boas is the only one to decide and he has preferred counting on the experienced Friedel.”
Villas-Boas dismisses the criticism coming across the Channel from France saying that Deschamps’ comments, “go in one ear and out the other.”
To be fair to Lloris he has not been critical of Villas-Boas’ decision, stating,
“It is not a problem. I have not just signed for Spurs for this season, my future is here and I am prepared to fight for my place.”