Brad Friedel vs. Hugo Lloris: Who Will Finish 2013 as Spurs' Goalkeeper?
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Despite being wrapped up against the cold as he watched a game (you'd assume) he would preferably be playing in, the veteran did not look a forlorn figure.
Friedel’s decision to extend his stay at Tottenham indicated he was not the type of player to feel sorry for himself.
Still, it was slightly strange to see the American on the bench when for so many years he has been a permanent fixture keeping goal for one Premier League club or another.
The reason for this change in situation is of course Hugo Lloris, the summer signing from Olympique Lyonnais who has replaced his older teammate as Spurs’ first-choice goalkeeper.
The answer to the question posed in this article’s headline is—barring ill-health or a dramatic loss of form—almost certainly the Frenchman.
Lloris is younger and of the required quality that Spurs will have no qualms about continuing with him ahead of Friedel, even though the American is still a most reliable custodian between the posts.
Ultimately, there is likely to be little suspense from here on out, with Friedel’s new contract signifying he is relatively happy with the current situation and the guarantee of what one imagines is a further year and a half of a pretty healthy weekly wage.
So who could blame him for settling?
Friedel is to remain part of a club that has the potential to achieve significantly over the remaining 18 months of his stay as part of a project few players of his age are ever likely to be part of (i.e. a top-flight club with genuine aspirations of trophies and more).
Other similarly-aged peers have retired or like David James have moved down the divisions; while another Premier League elder Mark Schwarzer may be approaching a crossroads in his own career.
Friedel made it clear in an October interview with SI.com that he was never under any illusion he was guaranteed to be the long-term first-choice at Spurs.
But pleasingly for both his manager Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham supporters, Friedel is the type of determined and plugged-in professional for whom any instincts of slipping into a state of semi-retirement will be entirely absent from his mind.
Lloris may have the advantage in the competition to be the club’s No. 1, but he will have to graft incessantly and continue to perform fully aware there is someone who can replace him.
To have two genuine top-class goalkeepers at your disposal in a comparatively simple manageable situation is a luxury few coaches can claim (Sir Alex Ferguson, for one, is still attempting to bring the best out of either David de Gea or Anders Lindegaard so he does not have to keep alternating).
Villas-Boas is fortunate in that regard.
Although it is relatively safe to assume Friedel will be selected against Coventry City in the FA Cup Third Round this weekend (and thereafter in the competition should Spurs progress) while Lloris remains in place for league matches, there is an interesting conundrum ahead for their boss.
Friedel may have been set to become the de facto cup goalkeeper (a position that is becoming increasingly prevalent among Premier League clubs) before Tottenham were drawn against Lyon in the next round of the Europa League.
With the games against the French outfit not taking place until February, Villas-Boas may not have even considered who he will start, or if Friedel really is his man for the cups—he may choose him regardless.
Lloris will surely petition his manager to play against his former side and in his homeland, with the opportunity to prove he was right to move abroad probably too tempting to want to pass up.
It may be as controversial as things get between two goalkeepers for whom rivalry is probably too strong a word in labelling their situation.
If anything, theirs is a partnership.
One for whom competition does not fuel individual egos but instead a responsibility to ensure their club has the best possible goalkeepers for the job no matter what.
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