Tottenham Hotspur were able to secure the services of French international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on the final day of the summer transfer period and it seems it has only taken a couple of days for the new signing to become upset with Spurs' manager Andre Villas-Boas. According to France's manager Didier Deschamps, Lloris is annoyed that he won't automatically be first choice.
Following current Tottenham starter Brad Friedel's stellar performance against Norwich City, Portuguese manager Villas-Boas had this to say about Lloris's role at Spurs:
When you transfer it's not written in the contract that you have to play. He has to compete against three good goalkeepers and at the moment Brad is doing extremely well. He deserves to be playing and he'll continue to do so.
This statement, while perfectly reasonable on its face, has, apparently, not sat well with either Lloris or Deschamps.
Speaking to the press before France's World Cup Qualifier against Finland new France manager Didier Deschamps said that he pretty much thought that Villas-Boas' comments were the dumbest things he'd ever heard.
Lloris did not appreciate Villas-Boas' statements. I saw what Villas-Boas said. If I comment on this, it is going to echo on the other side of the Channel, but it surprised me. I'm not going to create a problem that I'm not part of, but if it happens [Lloris is No.2], then it will be worth talking about. You all know the value of Hugo. I do not know what will happen but I hope everything goes well for him.
This is probably the nicest way that I've found any English language news source phrase it. Some have this interview so twisted and mangled that it looks like Deschamps is calling Villas-Boas out. Something to the effect of "I saw what Villas-Boas said. I hope everything goes well for him" has been reported by several papers and blogs.
In all actuality, all Deschamps is doing is looking out for his guy. As France's number one goalkeeper Lloris is important to Deschamps' job. If Lloris isn't getting regular minutes at his club team he's going to be less sharp for the national team or Deschamps may have to turn to another keeper, which could make qualifying for the 2014 World Cup slightly more difficult.
The more important thing here is that Deschamps says that Lloris does not appreciate Villas-Boas' comments. This, of course, was blown up by the media to show another example of Villas-Boas' poor man-management skills. My question is, would the rags and blogs have lit him up for benching Friedel after such a strong performance? My guess is yes. That also seems like a worse man-management decision because you risk alienating player on the squad who probably already have some allegiance to Friedel.
I too am surprised by Villas-Boas' comments, just like I was surprised by most American news outlet's reaction to the prospect of benching Friedel. To me, you don't sign a player like Lloris to let him sit on the bench for a few months. Certainly, Friedel has played well this season and he does have that consecutive games streak, but I think we can all agree that Lloris is the best option in the long-term. With that in mind, the more quickly Spurs can get Lloris adjusted to the Premier League the better it is for Spurs. Friedel can continue to play in the cups and in Europe, but his consecutive league game streak has to end sooner rather than later.
Now, do I understand Lloris being a little miffed? Sure. He's a damn good goalkeeper. He hasn't had to compete for a job in years. However, I don't really care about Lloris' feelings. Modern sports are all about "What have you done for me lately?" Friedel has done quite a bit lately. Lloris hasn't done anything. If he doesn't like the idea of having to compete for the number one shirt than he probably came to the wrong club.
One thing we don't know is if somewhere along the way Lloris was told he would be first-choice right away. We don't really know how these transfers happen or what is said in the backroom at Spurs Lodge. Perhaps Daniel Levy told Lloris that he would be in goal from Day One, that he was a guaranteed starter, and that he wouldn't have to compete with anyone. If that's true, then that's Levy's fault, not Villas-Boas'.
When it comes down to it Villas-Boas is right to say that Lloris has to compete for the number one shirt. If Daniel Levy told Lloris something else, then there is nothing AVB can do about that. If Lloris is annoyed, then he better get it together with a quickness because he's got a heck of a competition on his hands. Basically, everyone should stop their whinging and start playing football.
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