With the upcoming season just around the corner, Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp will have to decide who will be the starting goalkeeper for the Lilywhites. The current starting keeper Heurelho Gomes continues to have difficulty in goal, which has led some to question his starting role. That could have been what Harry was thinking by bringing in Brad Friedel from Aston Villa and extended Carlo Cudicini’s contract by one year to make Gomes fight for his spot and to improve his overall performance. However, I think the question still remains who should be the starting keeper. With the current keepers: Heurelho Gomes, Carlo Cudicini and Brad Friedel and with no possibility of anyone else being brought in, who to select?
I am going out on a limb in suggest that Cudicini should be the starting keeper for Tottenham.
I think it would be fair to say that Friedel was brought in to add an element of veteran experience at the age of 40. Furthermore, having Friedel compete for the position lets Gomes know he is replaceable considering he was making noise about a return to Holland. But the introduction of the American can only be seen a stop gap measure until Spurs located a long term replacement since I don’t think Gomes is the future of Tottenham.
To be fair to Gomes, he has improved since his arrival at Spurs. I think having Tony Parks as the goalkeeping coach has made Gomes a better player. The keeper cannot be blamed for all goals scored against Tottenham. English football is a team sport and the defenders do form that all important part of protecting the goal as well. However, Gomes is still dogged with errors on routine plays. To use a cliché Gomes, has “butter fingers.” I am sure all Tottenham fans, myself included, remember the famous Chelsea match where Gomes fumbled the ball resulting in a goal. Granted through instant replay he did stop the ball in time but it was routine catch. There was the fumbled ball in the second match against Real Madrid and of course other numerous examples.
However, all three goalkeepers do bring something to the table. While Gomes was at PSV, he had 60% clean sheets. And during his third season (2006-2007), he went 956 minutes without letting in a goal. Of course, one might ask what went wrong. Gomes has been called up for international duty with Brazil. Granted he hasn’t seen a lot of playing time at that level. But there is no doubt he played a critical role in the 2009-2010 season in helping Spurs secure that fourth place spot for the Champions League.
Cudicini had an impressive run at Chelsea before arriving at Spurs. During the 2001-2002 season, Cudicini was named player of the year by the Chelsea fans and voted best goalkeeper in the 2002-2003 season by the English Premier League. However, an old injury from his Lazio days surfaced during the 2003-2004 and with the arrival of Petr Cech saw his playing time limited with Cech securing a first team position.
Brad Friedel has seen several years of playing time in the English Premier League. Friedel had a long career with Blackburn Rovers, making 287 appearances and was named Blackburn player of the year during the 2002-2003 season. Friedel played very well for the United States during the 2002 World Cup. So, when looking at the three goalkeepers it does present Harry with a problem in who should be the number goalkeeper at Spurs.
However, Friedel is the new guy and should have to prove himself before securing the number one position. As stated earlier, I think Harry should hand the first team position of keeper to Cudicini. In viewing him I have been fairly impressed with his performance. During the last few remaining games of last season I thought Cudicini played very well in comparison to Gomes. I understand in relation to Gomes and Friedel he hasn’t had much playing time. Nevertheless, when something isn’t working you change it and try something new. I think Gomes has made too many errors to justify a starting role at this time. It’s time to give someone else an chance.
The long term solution is the securing of a young goalkeeper to build for a future. At 40 years of age Friedel is very short term. Almost all players at Friedel’s age have retired. Cudicini at 37 will have a few more years. Although Gomes is 30 years old, I just don’t see him being a long term solution along with the fact he has suggested a return to Holland.
At the end of the day they are the only keepers for Tottenham. I don’t see Harry bringing in any new keepers before the start of the new season. So, give Cudicini a chance if he doesn’t work out try someone else.