A confident display by the American against Reading justified André Villas-Boas's decision to pick him ahead of France's No1
A little over two weeks after he signed for the club, Hugo Lloris finally discovered what it feels like to be a Tottenham player. He would have enjoyed the conditions on a warm, still afternoon in Berkshire – and seeing his new side record their first win of the season – but little else will have been to the Frenchman's liking as he remained rooted to the bench, out of sight and, as far as his manager is concerned, out of mind.
Going into this contest, André Villas-Boas had reiterated that for the time being, and until injury or loss of form forced him to think otherwise, Brad Friedel would remain his first-choice goalkeeper. Watching on, Lloris could have taken little comfort or hope from seeing the American put in another assured performance and come within a few minutes of keeping his first clean sheet of the season.
This was Friedel's 307th consecutive appearance in the Premier League – he appears certain to make it 308 when Queens Park Rangers visit White Hart Lane in six days' time. The situation is an intriguing one. Having signed the captain of France, and a man regarded as being one of the finest goalkeepers in the world, it was expected that Villas-Boas would thrust Lloris straight into his starting XI. He made clear, however, after Spurs's 1-1 draw with Norwich on 1 September, and 24 hours after Lloris had completed his £12m move from Lyon, that there would be no immediate change.
With players then departing for international duty, it fell to Didier Deschamps, the France manager, to declare that Lloris "has not appreciated the statement of his coach", with the player expressing his dissatisfaction personally soon after.
This was all taken to be another example of Villas-Boas's lack of man-management skills, the trait which did for him at Chelsea. Looked at another way, however, and it could be deemed as proof that the Portuguese had learnt from his torment at Stamford Bridge and instead of having favourites, would now reward players on their performances alone. On that basis, Friedel deserves his place.
The 41-year-old was excellent against Norwich, and while hardly troubled against a generally toothless Reading side here, he displayed the calm and confidence that persuaded Harry Redknapp to sign him on a free transfer from Aston Villa in July 2011.
He plucked crosses out of the sky with ease, marshalled the four defenders ahead of him with authority, and, barring one clearance on 38 minutes that landed straight at the feet of Garath McCleary, cleared danger from the Spurs's area with little fuss.
It should be reiterated, however, that he was facing a Reading side who, 25 days after their last league match – a 4-2 defeat at Chelsea – appeared well short of attacking guile. Brian McDermott made the decision to maintain Pavel Pogrebnyak as a lone striker, but with the Russian receiving little or no help from midfield, the hosts were a blunt force for the majority of this contest.
Neither did it help that the bulk of their free-kicks, which should have caused Spurs problems given they were being delivered by Danny Guthrie and Ian Harte, drifted high, wide or both. Some credit should also be given to the Spurs central defenders, Jan Vertonghen and William Gallas, who generally kept their positions well and, more often than not, timed their tackles and blocks perfectly.
Indeed, the one time Friedel was left wanting, drifting out of position to leave Adam Le Fondre with an effort at an open goal, Gallas made a decisive goal-line clearance. Reading did eventually score, with Hal Robson-Kanu striking late on as Tottenham's defence, for once, left their goalkeeper exposed.
It was reward for a more energetic second-half display from the home side but, overall, Spurs were in total control. As was their goalkeeper. Lloris has more waiting to come.