The international break will be done by Tuesday; club matters will again be front and center.
For former U.S. international Brad Friedel, all troops reconvening after qualifiers and friendlies spells the proper launch of competition to hold his spot as top man in White Hart Lane goal.
Here, the wisdom of the years are paying off handsomely for Friedel, who is handling all this with pinpoint perfection.
Tottenham’s final stroke on transfer deadline day was singing France’s talented No. 1, Hugo Lloris. This was hardly optimal news to Friedel, 41, who was Tottenham’s unquestioned starter up to the second that news broke. (And holding the position wonderfully, it should be said.)
Friedel seems to have a great attitude about it all. Publicly, at least, he’s saying all the right things. What he told Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday:
I’m 41 right now; when I signed the contract at Tottenham I signed as a stop-gap while they looked for a long-term No. 1 goalkeeper. Carlo Cudicini, who is an outstanding goalkeeper, has just turned 39; Heurelho Gomes, who is an outstanding goalkeeper as well is 31. Tottenham Hotspur deserve a long-term goalkeeper.”
That’s a man who understands his place, who gets it. Count him as the anit-Roger Clemens that way.
At 41, he knows his days as a top-flight pro are just about numbered. Friedel has enjoyed a brilliant career, prolonged, highly capable and reasonably well decorated. So why make a fuss? Why threaten to dent the dignity by which he has generally held his ground?
If Lloris does take over sooner rather than later – and that’s precisely what we’re talking about here, a matter of “when not if,” because Lloris will eventually displace the American – Friedel can stay around happily for the entire 2012-13 0season, providing top-notch cover, topper-notch tutelage and continue pulling respectable wages all along.
He’s smart not to create big ripples in the White Hart Lane pool. That would be an invitation for Tottenham officials to dump Friedel and his salary right out into the Thames, adjudging by January that things in North London will be better without him.
None of that means Friedel will concede the job without a fight. Here, too, Friedel is taking a wise, strategic approach. Again, from the Goals on Sunday show:
Hugo Lloris is going to come in and he’s going to be, I’m assuming, a very good goalkeeper. It’s a tricky situation to come into the Premier League because it does take some learning. …
“Hugo Lloris is France’s No 1 and he’s going to want to come in and play; it’s a friendly competition, if you like. You have to understand Hugo Lloris is going to be a team-mate, not an enemy. … The fact of the matter is, right now, we have four quality goalkeepers at the football club. Right now I believe the shirt is mine to lose. I believe the manager came out and said that.