With Gomes having dropped his team in it once too often, it would be a big surprise not to see him leave White Hart Lane over the summer. Here’s a look at some of the candidates in the frame to replace him.
‘Your career in Hollywood is over’ is what comes to mind when summarising Foster’s career at Old Trafford. Having been hyped through the roof for his performances on loan at Watford, when it came to the big stage, Foster seemed to have too much on his plate and his seemed to blow his audition. At any stage in a player’s career the United job is one that comes with pressure, expectation and unimaginable levels of scrutiny. Having been shown the door at Old Trafford, you would have doubted if Foster would ever be considered for one of the league’s bigger teams, but the rehabilitation of his reputation at Birmingham has gone so well that he must feature on the wish-list for sides aspiring for league titles and Champions League places. With England duty off the agenda for the time being he’s an even more attractive prospect and if he continues to improve his consistency, could solve Spurs’ goalkeeping problems for the guts of the next decade.
With Harry’s reputation for finding a bargain, it’s virtually impossible to imagine that Given is not on his radar. After finding out that the two way ‘competition’ for the goalkeeping duties at Man City was in fact a closed shop in favour of Joe Hart, the Irishman must surely be desperate to leave. Considering his age and increasing proneness to injury, it’s a slight risk, but the outlay for Tottenham should be minimal and it’s a move that could pay off handsomely. Prior to being unfairly being assigned to bench-warming duties at City, Given was playing very well. With the exception of international football and the odd Europa League outing, this season has been one of inactivity for Given and it remains to be seen if he can recapture his form. There’s no reason to think he won’t, but age catches up with all of us and the last 12 months my have aged him more than we’ve anticipated. He’s still a risk worth taking and Harry’s no stranger to taking a gamble.
The national side’s struggles to find a reliable goalkeeper has thrust Loach into the conscious of the typical football fan earlier than if probably fair on him. There’s no doubting his natural ability, but at the age of 22, asking him to step up to one of the Premier League’s most high pressure jobs will test his temperament almost more than his talent. He still needs room to make mistakes and build up experience. Having made around 150 first team appearances, that attitude may come across as overly cautious, but I’ve lost count of the number of young English goalkeepers who are exposed to the glare of a particularly savage sports media prematurely and never fully regain their confidence. Playing game is one way of gaining experience, but playing under the weight of expectation and pressure is still something he hasn’t been exposed to too often. Counting against a move is the unwritten rule of the ‘premium’ attached to signing young English players. As much as he rails against his wheeler dealer reputation, Harry has a fondness for pulling one out of the bag and the money Redknapp will be asked to pay for Loach may a little too close to his real market value for Harry’s liking. At some stage, Loach will get his chance to step up into the top rung of goalkeepers, but this summer may be too soon to be making that move.
Replacing Gomes with Lopez would be a bold move. Lopez is good enough to start for the vast majority of top international sides, but such is the depth of talent within the Spanish goalkeeping ranks, he’s roughly 4th or 5th choice. It’s more than lazy journalism to make the comparison between Gomes and Lopez. Both are tall, bulky men blessed with seemingly physically impossible agility. They’re capable of getting across the goal in an instant, but there is a lingering doubt about his handling. To be fair to Lopez, his handling may be perfectly fine, but he doesn’t tend to use it a lot and when I have seen it in action, it’s been on the jittery side of assured. When given the chance, he’ll parry or punch and although that’s not necessarily a problem, it doesn’t tend to go down well with certain fans and ill-informed pundits in the media. Sadly they go a long way to dictating public opinion and on the back of Gomes, Spurs will need someone who’s more obviously convincing. It’s as unfair as it is geographically inaccurate, but also counting against him will be the fact he’ll get lumped into the same ‘continental’ category that’s associated with Gomes. He doesn’t suffer from the same frequency of ‘rush of blood to the head’ moments that afflicts Gomes, but it has happened on occasion. He won’t come cheap and Harry may decide to give him a skip.
A quick look at their squad list tells you Tottenham have few problems with welcoming back former players. ‘Once you leave, you always go back’ seems to be the mantra amongst those departing the club. The Robinson that Spurs would be getting now is a much improved version of the one they let go in 2008. The stats from his time at White Hart Lane don’t make pretty reading, but in his defence he was playing behind a defence with an almost comic disdain for defending set pieces. Since retiring from international duty at the start of the season, Robinson has concentrated on his club duties with tremendous results. He always had natural agility in his locker, but made mistakes due to a lack of focus. For whatever reason (I’d suggest an absence of fatigue), turning his back on England duty has improved his reliability. The frequency of mistakes has decreased and his handling is tidier than ever. Plus, he looks like he’s enjoying himself. From Tottenham’s purely selfish point of view, a Blackburn relegation and an Ewood Park firesale wouldn’t his hurt availability.