Brad Friedel has worked with more than a few managers in his lengthy career – including no fewer than three since he joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2011.
In the second of a three-part interview series, the veteran US goalkeeper reveals his thoughts on the current head coach at White Hart Lane, Tim Sherwood, and his Portuguese predecessor.
In his first season at Spurs three years ago, the team’s fourth place finish was not enough to regain them a place in the Champions League after Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in the final.
The result spelled the end for then manager Harry Redknapp, and chairman Daniel Levy turned to the analytical approach of Andre Villas-Boas.
But he too was shown the door after a fifth-place finish and a disappointing set of results earlier this season, paving the way for academy coach Tim Sherwood to take the reins - a move that appeared to have paid off with an excellent run at the start of his tenure.
Friedel has now worked under all three managers, so what does he think about the differing approaches of the club’s most recent two?
He said: “They both have different philosophies of football. Tim, being a Tottenham player, knows exactly what the fans want to see - that’s indoctrinated in his own philosophy.
“He likes the players to go for it, he likes crosses in the box, bodies in the box - it’s exciting. If you look through my career, the teams I’ve played for have been very similar – Liverpool and Galatassary were like that, Brondby at the time, Aston Villa when I was there, all very much on the front foot. I like that. As a goalkeeper it’s exciting.
“But AVB as well liked to attack - he just had a different manner. In the Newcastle game we had 27 shots on goal – you can’t say that’s not attacking. Sometimes football really is defined by fine margins – you can play awful and win 1-0 and everyone goes home happy or you can play well and lose and everyone wants everyone sacked at the club.”
A 6-0 mauling at Manchester City followed by a 5-0 drubbing at home to Liverpool sparked rumours of unrest in the Spurs camp towards the end of AVB’s tenure.
But Friedel insists the talk was pure media speculation, and that the squad has remained united despite the regime changes since he joined the club.
He said: “The mood has been really good since I’ve been here. It’s funny you wake up and you hear stories about all this unrest but when you walk into the building everyone shakes everyone’s hand every morning and that’s never changed.
“This is the third manager since I’ve been here and the team spirit is good and they’re a really great bunch of guys.
“When Harry was here we tried our best to play along with his tactics and get as high up the table as we can, we did the same with AVB and we’re doing the same with Tim so the ‘unrest’ or coming and going, I must say you don’t see it here on a daily basis – there’s not a lot of turmoil that goes on here between the players and coaching staff.”
Since Sherwood was brought in, a number of the club’s youth players have featured more heavily, in particular Nabil Bentaleb who has made a succession of starts under the new head coach.
As the squad’s most senior player, Friedel says he is always happy to pass on his advice and says he welcomes the introduction of young talent to the first team.
He said: “It’s great to see when guys like Zeki Fryers comes in and plays well or a Nabil or Harry Kane - we all get along. The players don’t choose the starting 11, it’s the manager and the coaching staff, so when a young player gets a chance, we genuinely want them to do well.
“You can see the training facility we’ve got here and one of the elements is to produce top players. I think AVB probably wouldn’t have known the younger players as well as Tim so it’s easier for Tim to know who he will trust in the games, and he wouldn’t put someone in who couldn’t do the job.”
Friedel was speaking at a media training session at Tottenham Hotspur’s Enfield training complex.
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