This week has seen a rather impressive PR campaign launched on behalf of Mr Gomes and his oil-covered gloves. All and sundry have come out in force to assert, most emphatically, that he actually is a pretty impressive goalkeeper, and is just having a poor run of form, coupled with a rather public crisis of confidence.
It may surprise seasoned all-action-no-plotters to know that I too actually subscribe to this opinion. Stop sniggering, it’s true. The guy was extremely highly-rated for five years at PSV, making the last four of the Champions League, and was a regular choice under Guus Hiddink. Indeed, he has already displayed here in England that he is a shot-stopper par excellence. However, this will count for precious little if his bizarre, vaguely vampiric allergy to crosses continues. While ‘Arry has apparently made a living out of “putting his arm around players” (never had a boss who did that to me, mercifully) and telling them that they’re great players and wonderful people and sensational human beings and actually deities, even his patience will wear thin if Gomes continues to use the sieve-catching-water method of gathering crosses.
However, Gomes has this week received the benefit of the doubt and a stay of execution. Instead, the fall-guy at White Hart Lane has been a chap named something like Hans Leitert, chap who’d only been at the club five minutes. He was brought in by Juande Ramos and Damien Comoli (a thousand curses upon him) as goalkeeping coach during the summer. And what a master-stroke that was. He’s now enjoying his P45 and the memories of thirty-six thousand howls of anguish on a weekly basis. His replacement is Tony Parks, a Tottenham legend whose claim to fame is having met my oldest brother (he, the latter, has a blog too btw – http://www.richlac.blogspot.com/), a moment recorded for posterity by a local newspaper, back in 1984. (Coincidentally enough, this clash of titans occurred just days after Parks had saved a penalty in the final of the 1984 Uefa Cup, thereby winning the trophy for Spurs). The drill given to Parks is simple – teach Gomes to control his area. This is apparently as much about communication with defenders as about movement around them. It seems a fair diagnosis, as many of Gomes’ problems have stemmed from ill-judged attempts to storm his way through masses of his own players to reach the ball. The lad seems not to realise that such a strategy, while noble in intent, is hindered somewhat by those pesky laws of physics, which dictate that his progress is impeded by the presence of phycial bodies obstructing his path. Parks was only hired this week, but fairly immediate results are required. Tomorrow’s match sees the return to White Hart Lane of our former number one, Robbo, to whom Gomes can refer if he wants any proof of how quickly a goalkeeper’s star can fall at Spurs.
Another point of note will be how ‘Arry adapts to the absence of everyone’s favourite paperweight, Modric, who is out for a couple of weeks with an injury (presumably inflicted when a strong gust of wind picked him up and tossed him around). One option would be to let Lennon play centrally, in the hole, thereby utilising his pace without having to subject everyone to his infuriatingly poor crosses from wide positions. Another, more daring alternative would be to opt for a second striker, in the form of the wonderfully cheerful Campbell, or the slightly stroppier Pavluychenko. A home game vs the team one place above us is one we ought to win – and I think we’d all be grateful if it turns out to be a nice low-key afternoon for Gomes.
A useless fact you can take with you into tomorrow’s game is that Blackburn is, bizarrely, a team I seem to have watched several times over the years. I guess everyone who goes to football matches has a team they inadvertently see fairly regularly – mine, for no good reason, is Blackburn. I remember seeing a game against them in the Hoddle era, a fantastic 3-2 victory over them in the all-action-no-plot days of Martin Jol, and then just last season seeing them beat us 2-1 in the last minute, the day before Juande took over. They have nothing in particular to recommend them, they just seem to pop up on my radar fairly frequently. Told you it was a useless fact.