Friedel labels Barthez ignorant and disrespectful
The hullabaloo surrounding Brad Friedel and Hugo Lloris simply refuses to blow over. The latest in line to needlessly poke his nose in this matter is the French World Cup winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. The former Manchester United shot-stopper stated that the goalkeeping situation at White Hart Lane was ‘incomprehensible’ to him in an interview to the French newspaper Le Parisien.
“Lloris is one of the five best goalkeepers in the world. He is faster than Friedel, he jumps higher and he is very strong mentally. What is happening now is incomprehensible, but I’m not concerned. He will become the centre-piece of the club. Hugo is a calm guy, a good worker. Tottenham will not let him stay on the bench for a long time.”
However, if Barthez thought such snide comments regarding Friedel will go unanswered then he would have been in for an unpleasant surprise. The veteran American keeper minced no words as he took to Twitter to respond to Barthez.
“Just saw Barthez comments. I normally don’t comment but when disrespected by someone I don’t respect I must. Barthez was ignorant, disrespectful and out of order to mention my name.”
While his manager André Villas-Boas would probably have preferred his keeper to refrain from furthering this unnecessary controversy, one could see where Friedel is coming from. The man who has made a record 309 consecutive appearances in the league does not deserve to be on the receiving end of such disparaging remarks by a distant observer like Barthez.
The entire controversy started with the manager’s innocuous comments regarding his first choice keeper after the Norwich match, where the 41 year old Friedel put in an outstanding shift. As one would normally expect in the situation, AVB re-affirmed Friedel based on his level of performance will continue in goal for the next match and it was up to newly signed Lloris to displace him. The comment apparently did not sit well with the French number one keeper and his national team boss Didier Deschamps. From then on the media has kept pouring fuel on this particular fire and used it to get at the Spurs’ new manager. It seems like the pro-Redknapp segment of Fleet Street would stop at nothing to undermine Harry’s successor at White Hart Lane.
Thankfully, Lloris looks keen to draw a line to this entire farrago based on his post-match comments after the Lazio game in which he made his club debut.
“I want to work and I want to play but now I think the coach will take the decision on me. I will just work and we will see. Tottenham has a great project for the future and I will have my place, but now it’s a period of adaptation.”
If he only he had stated so in the first place, we would have been saved from much ado about nothing.
Mancini spells out Balotelli’s role in the team
While Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has categorically denied rumours regarding a fresh bust up with Mario Balotelli, he made it clear the Italian striker will have to live with the striker rotation policy he has in place at the club.
On Wednesday night, in one of the biggest games in the club’s history, Balotelli was deemed not worthy enough of even a place on the bench and watched the match from the stands. This led to a number of speculations in the media, all pointing to some sort of a fresh row between the striker and his manager.
But Mancini was quick to dispel such gossip by stating it was plain footballing reasons rather than off the pitch incidents on which he made the decision.
“There has been no argument, and no row. Absolutely not. Mario went in the stand only because we started to play with Carlos Tevez in attack and we couldn’t have three strikers on the bench.”
Even though the statement exonerates the maverick striker of any mischief making, it does makes one wonder about his role in the team. There’s no doubt that Sergio Agüero when fit is the numero uno striker at City. Carlos Tévez, in spite of all his previous indiscretions, has played his way into the team since the back end of last season and is the preferred partner for Aguero. But what will vex Balotelli greatly is the fact that Mancini has apparently put the Bosnian striker Edin Džeko, a player believed to have been near the exit door at Etihad in the summer, above him in the pecking order. Dzeko in his part justified the faith shown in him by his manager by scoring at Bernabéu when he came off the bench.
So now it seems Balotelli will have to do with bit part appearances in the team and wait till an injury or manager’s decision to rest one of the strikers to get into the starting lineup. While had it been someone apart from Balotelli, it may so have been expected that the player would take it up as a challenge and force his way into his manager’s reckoning by weight of his performance. But with the temperamental Italian, one is never sure how he would react.
Mancini, who has managed Balotelli for most part of his career, probably knows what he is doing. It will be fascinating to see how Balotelli responds to it the next time we see him on the pitch.