The French international goalkeeper arrived at White Hart Lane at the end of this summer’s transfer window in what many thought it was a strange move. A lot of Tottenham fans didn’t see a whole lot wrong with what they already had in Brad Friedel.
They are now being turned round to this move as being a little masterstroke, whether AVB wanted the player in the first place or not. The reason for this is he is part of the way goalkeeping is moving in the Premier League. A transition is going away from the goalkeeper being isolated for the rest of the team and simply there to save shots. A keeper is a very much active member of the team and is seen as the start of a lot of the counter attacking football that goes on.
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Hugo Lloris is a prime example of how attention to detail in a goalkeepers play is so pivotal to the functioning of a team. The difference between Friedel and Lloris when they have the ball in their hands is the American chooses to bounce the ball a few times before he finds his man, whereas the Frenchman throws the ball out with accuracy to the wings on distributes to the wings with his feet with precision. I do not mean these aimless throws like Heurelho Gomes used to often deliver that looked impressive but often did not find the target. The distribution of a modern keeper is an aspect of a game that is so underrated. Despite the stereotype of footballers, they have to be smarter and Hugo Lloris illustrates an ability to know his team’s strengths. The keepers are meant to act as a calming influence and that is delivering the ball to a player’s feet. Lloris is aware that Bale and Lennon is the fulcrum of Tottenham’s attacking play and if they are released early with the ball on the floor they can easily wreak havoc.
It is for this very reason that I favour David De Gea to win the battle of wills at Old Trafford with Lindegaard to gain the permanent starting position, and why he commanded a fee of £18 million. There is a large aspect of a keeper’s play that is focussed around the ability to stop shots and have an instinctive nature to be able to stop the trouble. This is not a new commodity; there are several goalkeepers who can shot stop well. Bogdan was a prime example of this at Bolton last season, but you didn’t see a rush for Tottenham to sign him.
The reason for this is his distribution is not on the same level as Lloris. As the Premier League becomes more intricate too it is the goalkeeper’s responsibility to notice this too. Manchester United has been a team that have flourished because of their ability to devastatingly pick teams apart within moments due to incisive passing. The distribution of the Spaniard is stunning and it is clearly irresponsible for a keeper these days to boot it long and hope his team mates can work from there. The need to be skilful with their feet is often a talent that is forgotten in the discussion of what keeper’s need. They are footballers after all.
When your team is under pressure and shots are raining down and your number one receives a goal kick it is senseless to pump a long ball to the left, unless you have a play which is functioned around this. Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul could take note of the distribution of other keepers in the league, as his is piling pressure upon his teammates. I have never seen Demba Ba’s face light up with glee as a long ball happens to come into his airspace and he has to desperately challenge for the ball.
He has to take what he is given, but this doesn’t exactly encourage him to not panic when he does receive the ball on the floor. Especially when a team is struggling like Newcastle are at the minute you need a keeper who can be there to pass the ball back to and he will simply deliver it to his nearest full back rather than hitting it long and hoping for the best.
It may have been difficult for Tottenham fans to justify wanting Lloris ahead of Friedel when the 41 year old was making such great reflex saves. Now they have had a chance to see Lloris have a longer stint as number one they may be able to see why they have taken a step ahead of other clubs. The same appreciation I expect to occur when David De Gea fully comes of age. The distribution of keeper’s will be become an ever-growing influence in the Premier League.