On Saturday evening, Hugo Lloris was to blame for not one but both goals as Tottenham dropped points at the Etihad. You can pinpoint Lloris as solely responsible, but Pochettino’s side were worryingly off-par as a newly reinvigorated Manchester City side ran riot for virtually all 90 minutes.
So yes, Lloris totalled two errors in the game. It was actually probably more when you consider the intricacy of distribution, but let us focus on the failed attempt at a header that landed on Leroy Sane’s hand as he was left with just an open goal to make it 1-0. Then there was the ‘hopeful’ cross that Lloris couldn’t quite grasp as the incoming Kevin De Bruyne benefited and bundled home for 2-0. We simply forget that in the first half alone, Lloris had make two good, not great, but good saves to keep Tottenham in contention. If we were to continually total up each goalkeeper’s saves and errors to formulate some kind of equation for what makes a good or bad goalkeeper, we would be missing the point. The crux for a good goalkeeper is indeed making saves and avoiding simple errors, but the position itself is no less immune to human error than a striker struggling for goals or a midfielder struggling to control his side’s flow. As we all know too well, goalkeepers are burdened by mistakes usually resulting in goals. That’s why in this season alone, Loris Karius and Claudio Bravo have been so excessively ridiculed. Lloris, as a fantastic goalkeeper and credit to his position, is one that will remain unmoved by a couple of blunders.
In truth, there is only one goalkeeper that comes close to the level of Lloris. That man is David De Gea, a better distributor of the ball but less of a reflex shot-stopper. Both in parts represent the modern goalkeeper; athletic, agile and good with their feet. While Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois are close, they lack that something which makes them special to watch. Cech career has flowed as Mr. Reliable and Courtois is a commanding presence in his goal, but Lloris possesses the ability to win his team points. When sides knock at the Tottenham door and nervous tension peaks inside White Hart Lane, Lloris remains assured and consistently provides the save that maximises his side’s points. From memory, his save from Bakary Sako meant Tottenham gained 3 points against Crystal Palace last year, his what seemed inconceivable save off the line in Leverkusen salvaged a point and his point blank reaction to Swansea’s Sigurdsson last season meant that Tottenham secured all 3 in their hopeful pursuit of Leicester. Kicking, as something integral to Tottenham’s style, is his only real downfall.
When the Frenchman joined Tottenham in 2012, Lloris already had legendary status in Lyon despite the club’s decline in status. Nominated for UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year and frequently named in the Team of the Year, Lloris joined an unstable Spurs. The ‘Andre Villas-Boas’ era was a strange one for the Spurs fans, and even as recently as 2012, there are only a few names who remain at the club. Remarkably, he played second fiddle to veteran Brad Friedel who was closing in on the record for the most consecutive amount of games played in the Premier League. On introduction to the first team, he was linked to the likes of the newfound money-spinners AS Monaco, but was always eager to pledge his loyalty to Spurs. In times of instability and managerial changes in 2013/14, Lloris was a rare constant. You could understand his frustration but his commitment to the club is something Spurs fans will always appreciate. For once, they had a goalkeeper they could rely on. He was prone to mistakes, namely the couple against Man City in a 6-0 drubbing, but never came close to number of calamities Spurs endured in that time period. Did he want to leave? Perhaps he did, but in 2015 his marriage with the club grew stronger as Pochettino gave him club captaincy. His character and promise to the club had been rewarded.
As club captain, fans and experts alike have grown to admire Lloris. As both captain of his national and club side, errors have been eliminated and Lloris is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. His self-assurance has been cultivated at Tottenham, where even in runs of poor form, Lloris has remained no.1. In a team now full of stars and promise, Lloris remains the highbrow choice as Spurs’ most important player. While Kane, Alli and Alderweireld receive the most attention, Lloris quietly picks up minutes, saves and invaluable statistics. Moments of genius generate a few talking points, but he is rarely the man under the spotlight. Rumoured to be quiet but respected in the changing room, the Spurs captain is as composed off the pitch as he is on it.
So two mistakes at the Etihad mean virtually nothing. In terms of forgiveness, Lloris has accrued too much respect at Tottenham to be truly scrutinised. As he entered the changing room, he likely apologised, addressed where the team had made errors and moved on. If the team ethic is anything close to what we are led to believe under Pochettino, the players will have accepted his apology and likewise, moved on. Even the media didn’t make a fuss as they, probably correctly, opted to point fingers at the level of officiating. When Tottenham fans could have laid the blame on Lloris, the general attitude was that, over his career, he is likely to gain significantly more points than he is to lose with his goalkeeping.
There is more to it than that though. Over his time at Tottenham, he has become resilient and resolute; treasured traits in his position. While other, more naïve goalkeepers would let two quite frankly poor errors wreak havoc in their minds, it seems more probable that Lloris has already swept them aside.