How Long Will Spurs Keep Faith With Gomes After Another Blunder?
Mixed emotions is probably the best way to describe Heurelho Gomes' state of mind yesterday morning. On the one hand, his side had just been eliminated from the Champions League, with his error proving decisive in the single-goal defeat at White Hart Lane. Conversely, his blooper was not the deciding factor in an entertaining quarter final tie. Spurs were not eliminated on Wednesday night, but rather a week ago in the Bernabeu. As entertaining a side as they are, overturning a four goal deficit was never going to happen.
Despite the second leg loss, Gomes could probably have swept his latest mistake under the carpet. He has cost whichever team he has played for points throughout his career due to a number of errors – drawing attention to the latest when it could be locked away, never to be spoken of again, seems a strange choice. And yet, in the aftermath of Spurs' exit, the Brazilian stopper declared that this would not be his last mistake. Some would declare this a brave admission. Others would say foolish.
First off however, the 30 year-old is probably right. Goalkeepers quite often play well into their late thirties or even into their forties (just look at Edwin van der Sar). Gomes could potentially have another decade of professional football ahead of him. To have made so many mistakes so far, it seems unlikely that he'll avoid another gaffe in the future. However, true as his words may be, teams rely on a strong presence at the back. Confidence spreads through a team, giving the attacking elements the freedom to push on. If the goalkeeper lacks confidence in his own ability, how can the rest of the side be expected to believe in him?
What is important is that one blunder doesn't lead to a comedy of errors. The question that remains now is whether Cristiano Ronaldo's dipping long-range effort was the straw that broke the camel's back for Harry Redknapp. This might not have been the most costly of mistakes, but it was in a high-profile fixture with the season's end fast approaching. Could Redknapp be tempted to bring in a new man between the sticks? What Gomes has on his side is that Spurs will certainly not be the number one destination for keepers looking for pastures new. Van der Sar's retirement suggests a keeper is top of Sir Alex Ferguson's summer wish list. The rumours have been circulating on a number of targets and they won't go away.
While Gomes may be error-prone, he does not always receive the praise he deserves for his shot-stopping ability. He may have cost his team points in the past, but he has also won them by the shed-load. Eccentricity is also a common trait of goalkeeper. Think of the success enjoyed by the likes of Fabian Barthez or fellow Frenchman Bernard Lama to name but two. Yes, this might not be the last mistake Gomes makes, but he will certainly bounce back from it.