Hugo Lloris signed for Spurs on transfer deadline day in a £8miilion deal from Lyon, which could rise to £12million.
A day after joining the club, Andre Villas-Boas announced that Brad Friedel was going to continue between the sticks for Spurs in our next match away to Reading.
As Hugo Lloris joined up with the France squad, comments emerged from national Team manager Didier Deschamps that AVB’s words had upset his number one.
“Hugo has not appreciated the statements of his coach… I do not want Hugo to find himself in this situation.”
Whether Lloris was upset, Didier Deschamps didn’t like the decision or whether it is the media trying again to unsettle AVB, we don’t know for sure.
For me, whilst Hugo Lloris may be looking to just walk in to the Spurs team, there are several reasons why Andre Villas-Boas is right to bide his time before starting him.
What Hugo Lloris brings to Spurs
Hugo Lloris is just 25 years old, but already has a ton of experience. The French stopper has made over 200 appearances in Ligue 1, whilst appearing in 40 Champions League matches for Lyon and 35 times for the national team. This includes playing at the World Cup Finals in 2010 and also the European Championships this summer.
He is mobile, agile and also comfortable with playing the ball, which is what Andre Villas-Boas requires from his number one. The man between the sticks has to be able to distribute the ball from the back in order to start attacks and help the team retain possession. He also needs to be able to come off his line and clear up anything that goes in behind a defence that is pushing up to compress the field.
For some examples of how Hugo Lloris uses the ball well, if we take a look at some of his performances at Euro 2012, we can see that he completes a high number of his passes.
In France’s first match with England, we can see with the help of Stats Zone that Hugo Lloris is able to move the ball to the full backs and centre backs in front of him. He completes 18 of his 20 total passes with the majority short and only two long dead-ball goal kicks failing to find their target. His top passing targets are the centre back pair of Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami, with France building their attack from a central position.
Against Ukraine, he again completes a high percentage of his passes with 23 of 28 successful this time. Of his five unsuccessful passes, four are from dead-ball goal kicks sent long downfield, which can be more easily won by the defence.
The majority of his passes are again short, with centre backs Mexes and Rami his preferred targets. However, he also shows that he is able to play longer balls out to Gael Clichy in an advanced position at left back. France really went at Ukraine down this side, so Hugo Lloris moving the ball quickly out to Clichy helped to get the attack started.
Being able to be accurate with the ball like this will also aid Spurs, if we are going to push the full backs on to help supplement the attack. We will need a keeper who can hit the ball over a longer distance to them in order to get the attack started.
Although France don’t play a high line like Andre Villas-Boas wants to employ at Spurs, these examples still illustrates his comfort when playing the ball.
Hugo Lloris will not only bring this, but also he also has the agility to come off his line, as well as being an athletic shot stopper. Andre Villas-Boas needs this from his goalkeeper if he is to play as a ‘sweeper keeper’ mopping up behind a high defensive line.
Why it’s right for Hugo Lloris to bide his time
Hugo Lloris is a very good goalkeeper, so much so that he has won Ligue 1’s best goalkeeper award for the last three seasons. Andre Villas-Boas is right to bide his time bringing him in the team though. Lloris will be starting soon enough, but he needs to be patient and there are several reasons why.
1. Veteran players
If Andre Villas-Boas learnt one thing from his time at Chelsea, it’s not to make rapid changes to the line-up to exclude the veteran players.
The dressing room is a very tight unit at any club and a new manager can make or break himself by how he handles the established stars. AVB will have learnt from trying to phase out players like Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba at Chelsea, who can use their influence to create unease in the squad.
Brad Friedel has only been at Spurs for one season, but he is very much a veteran that has a lot of respect in the dressing room. If Andre Villas-Boas were to drop ‘Uncle Brad’ as he is affectionately known, as soon as Hugo Lloris walks through the door, this could have a negative effect on the group.
Jermain Defoe’s comments made this week may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but also highlight how players can be uneasy with rapid change.
“That was all a bit mad,” Defoe added. “I had my wisdom tooth out, so wasn’t around for a day and, when I came back, Tom [Huddlestone] had gone to Stoke [he would eventually return having failed to sign at the Britannia stadium] and someone else had gone as well. I said to the lads: ‘I miss one day and all the players are leaving.’
2. Coping with the English game
As we’ve seen with Goalkeepers like David de Gea, the English game requires a more physical keeper who can deal with contact, especially on crosses. The Spaniard’s confidence was destroyed in his first few games for Manchester United as he came for, and missed, plenty of aerial balls resulting in goals conceded. Sir Alex Ferguson had to drop him for Anders Lindegaard and the media were all over the flapping de Gea.
Andre Villas-Boas won’t want to see his high priced stopper also falling to the same fate as the £19 million de Gea.
3. Getting used to the defence
Any goalkeeper needs to develop an understanding with his back four and this comes through working on the training ground.
Hugo Lloris can’t expect to walk in to the side without establishing a relationship with the guys in front of him. If Spurs are to shift to a 4-3-3 and deploy a high defensive line, this will involve communication that can only develop through time.
Hugo Lloris may be a top goalkeeper and one we need to play Andre Villas-Boas preferred 4-3-3 system, but he needs to bide his time in the English game.
He is itching to play which is a good, but he needs time to settle in to the English style of play and develop a relationship with his back four.
Andre Villas-Boas knows this, which is why he is smart to keep the in-form Brad Friedel between the sticks for the time being. He won’t want a situation like Fergie had with David De Gea, with his keeper being scrutinised for struggling to adapt to the rigours of the English game.
He also won’t want unrest in the dressing room by immediately benching a veteran leader in ‘Uncle Brad.’ Besides, healthy competition should push both Freidel and Hugo Lloris to raise their games.