Laying off, not into, Gomes…

Let’s be clear from the beginning. I like Gomes. I think he is an excellent goalkeeper. Yet, not since Paul Robinson and David James, have I seen a goalkeeper get so much stick and have his confidence undermined by the press so much. The crazy thing is, reading reports you would think these ‘keepers don’t even belong in the Premiership, that they are inferior. I think this has more to do with the press enjoying having a whipping boy than anything else.

It’s important to understand that I am not saying that Huerlho Gomes does not make mistakes. He does. That said he also makes saves that I can compare only to the very best in the world. Saves I have not seen since I watched Peter Schmeichel. There can be no doubt that where Gomes has lost Tottenham a point or two he has won them far more with top notch goalkeeping.

I am not going to go through exhaustive examples because we all have lives to get to. So, briefly, the Chelsea incident is only mentionable because he recovered from his mistake, only to have the goal given. This is because Sepp Blatter is an arse who no doubt wishes we could return to the days of the horse and cart, such is his aversion to technology. Moving pictures on a box are obviously unreliable as they are works of the devil himself…

The goal scored in the home leg against Real Madrid by Christiano Ronaldo is mentionable. This is because, without doubt, Gomes should have saved it. If you watch the clip (1) he gets directly behind the flight of the ball but as it dips sharply and moves left just as it is reaching him he should read it and push it away. He misjudges and it ricochets into the net. Yet any other PL goalkeeper would have at least got a “wow that moved a lot in the air” which the replays from behind showed it did. Instead the Gomes narrative kicks in “here goes Gomes again”.

In the “double penalty” Blackpool game Tottenham were on top, playing well. Gomes makes an excellent save (2). Off the subsequent corner Dawson is pushed, he allows his hand to flail and a penalty is given. The penalty take is almost perfect (watch the video link). Right in the bottom corner yet Gomes gets to it and saves. A corner is now quickly taken and almost no-one in the Spurs defence is awake. Gomes has to come for the ball. He parries it but still only one Spurs defender is on the move, (3) he reaches to catch it but is nudged (by the only Spurs defender on the move, oddly enough) and the ball falls for Gary Taylor Fletcher who overhits it and then makes the most of what is minor contact, if contact at all, and takes to the ground.

Somehow the “Gomes is unhinged” narrative kicks in and Gomes is a villain.

It is tiring, especially if you remember where it comes from. Gomes’s earliest days at Spurs were a torrid time. He had a specific achillies heel and that was crosses. For some reason the best keeper in Holland, a country full of really tall people, couldn’t handle them. It was confusing.  Only later revealed that he had been playing whilst carrying an injury. Naturally that is something you do not reveal to PL opposition players, who will do their best to take advantage, but by then the Gomes blunderman narrative had stuck.

That is what papers and news look for now. Narrative is what you need to draw people in to a story and now Gomes will get extra grief for every mistake he makes, like Real Madrid, and many that are not his fault, like Blackpool. Tottenham Hotspur will simply not get a better goalkeeper at the moment. When they are challenging for the title, perhaps, but not now.

Already people forget how valuable he was in securing a top four finish, and how commentators, by the end of that “blunderman season”, were touting him as a front-runner for the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.

Huerelho Gomes is the clean-sheet record holder in Holland. He has incredible reflexes, gets Tottenham Hotspur points where they have not deserved them, sits behind an unstable back four and is uncompromisingly brave, even when injured. From his time in Holland: “Notable was an incident in Rotterdam in the match against Feyenoord, when Gomes injured himself whilst celebrating a goal, scored by his teammate Phillip Cocu. However, he managed to continue and even managed to pull off a wonder save, keeping his side in the game, which they went on to draw.”

I put it to his critics that our problem is not Huerelho Gomes but a solid, settled back four with good cover in front of them and leave you with a compilation of Gaolkeeping howlers that includes the best Goalkeeper I have ever seen, Peter Schmeichel (4). I think we should be getting behind our goalkeeper, not on top of him.

Jester

The post-scripts:

Video references:

(1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2YVTG7VOsY&feature=player_detailpage#t=206s
(2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUuLJwbV1AI&feature=player_detailpage#t=183s
(3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUuLJwbV1AI&feature=player_detailpage#t=249s
(4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksY9Pll3gDM

This season’s Gomes man-of-the-match performances according to Jim Duggan of Topspurs.com

16 October Fulham 1-2 Tottenham
16 January Tottenham 0-0 Manchester United
05 March Wolverhampton 3-3 Tottenham
23 April Tottenham 2-2 West Brom

Man-of-the-match performances: Modric 8, van der Vaart 6, Bale 4, Gomes 4.

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