Brad Friedel talks Tottenham v West Ham, Harry Kane and Jose Mourinho
Brad Friedel is a former player who knows the Premier League inside out having played 450 games in the top-flight during his career at Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham.
The American stopper finished his playing career at Spurs in 2015 and we spoke to him ahead of his West Ham v Tottenham Ladbrokes 5-A-Side selection at the weekend.
On West Ham v Tottenham
“Tottenham are coming up against a West Ham side who will not be easy to break down. David Moyes has done an excellent job this season, especially after thier last campaign. Last year was a fight and a half for them, but this time out their players are full of confidence. They’re now heading into most games believing they can win.
“Tottenham aren’t favourites here in my opinion; it’s probably just about level. West Ham might be slight favourites on recent form, but if you look at key players and which side boasts the most quality, that’s still Tottenham. But if you’re looking at the confidence of the two teams, it’s West Ham who are the more confident right now.
“With that in mind, I think it’s going to be a tense game. The first goal will go a long way towards deciding who comes out on top in this one, but it’s a tough game to pick a winner.”
On Harry Kane
“Eventually, I can see Harry Kane moving on. Winning the Premier League isn’t necessarily going to be the be all and end all in his decision, though.
“This is where Tottenham’s board have always been very savvy; I’m sure they’ve had offers in the past. One thing I am certain of is that once Daniel Levy has an offer for Kane that he doesn’t think is ever going to get any better, that is when he’s going to sell him.
“Winning – or failing to win – trophies won’t have much of an impact on whether or not Harry stays at the club. He’s a great team player, an excellent person to have around the squad. Don’t get me wrong; he’s going to want to win trophies, but I also think that each season he thinks he can win them at Tottenham.
“There will be a time where the Spurs board feels that it’s time to sell Harry Kane. I don’t know whether the financial difficulties COVID has brought will act as an instigator, we’ll have to wait and see. But do I see him moving in the future? Yes, I do.
“The ‘one season wonder’ tag never made its way to the dressing room while I was playing at Spurs with Harry. It made no sense to us as players because every day in training he was banging in goals for fun.
“I was doing my coaching badges at the club while Harry was coming through the ranks and even from a young age his shots were so hard to save. He always had such a quick release on his shots, with both feet. Everything about him was just impeccable in front of goal.
“There are some big similarities between Harry Kane and Alan Shearer; their striking abilities come to mind. I’d say Alan had a nastier streak in him, mainly because of the era he played in. But they’re both so good in the air, they know how to use their bodies and their eye for a goal is so similar.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s with their strong foot, their weak foot or their head, they score all kinds of goals. They both know how to break the lines between defenders, they’re both leaders, and I think they’re two of the best number nines to have graced the Premier League.”
“If he can keep fit, and he doesn’t move abroad, I see Harry Kane breaking Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record.”
On Mauricio Pochettino
“This is just my personal opinion as he’s a man that I got to know quite well in my last year at Tottenham – I think every team in the world missed a trick by not hiring Mauricio Pochettino. He’s outstanding; he really is.
“He’s a very intelligent man, his whole staff are intelligent. He works tirelessly. His knowledge of football on and off the field is excellent.
“I think he’ll be able to go into any boardroom and navigate through that boardroom in a successful manor, while keeping his philosophies intact. He’s been in and around the biggest players around his whole life, as a player and manager. He knows how to handle players with egos. I couldn’t say any more nice things about him.
“He also has a hard streak, and if you’re not doing things the right way for him, he can be ruthless.
“I’m glad he’s at a team where he’ll be able to get a trophy haul in. When you’re not at one of the bigger teams, it’s hard to lift trophies; it really is. What Leicester did a few years back was truly remarkable. But Pochettino is outstanding; he really is.
“I don’t know whether he’ll come back to the Premier League any time soon. I hope he does because he’s a great talent, but he could really build something special at PSG, and from there who knows? Maybe he’ll then look at the Argentina job as his next project.
“Mauricio is one of the very good guys when it comes to player management. He knows who’ll back him, he knows the players that are honest and hard-working, and also he knows the people that won’t work in his system.
“Not every player is a good pro, and he has no problem getting that player out of the club. When he knows someone isn’t good to work with, that’s it; they’re gone. He has no problem getting rid of that person.
“So without a doubt it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the next couple of transfer windows in Paris because there’s going to be a couple of players in there he’ll want to get rid of. Not every player is for every head coach.”
“He’s made mistakes before [Alisson], he’ll make them again and I’m sure that he’s not only going to be fine, but he’ll come out of the experience stronger. Just because he’s made a couple of mistakes doesn’t mean he’s not still one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
“I don’t know his personality; I don’t know whether he needs an arm around the should or whether he just needs ignoring. Sometimes as a manager ignoring something like what’s happened with Alisson lately is just as effective. That way he still knows that he’s number one, he still knows he’s the best at the club and he can just get on with things.
“This is where having a manager like Jurgen Klopp helps because he’s one of the best on the planet, so he’ll know what Alisson needs.”
“The difference between Ederson and someone like myself is that you could probably put the number nine shirt on him for a game and he’ll get you a goal. I was just going up to try and grab a late equaliser for Blackburn when I scored my goal.
“I’ve said this about Ederson before – and while I respect every goalkeeper, there are very few teams where I’ll turn a game on just to watch the goalkeeper. Ederson is one of them. Every time the ball goes back to him ‘m wondering what he’s going to do – and not in a bad way. He’s just so savvy on the ball, so he makes it difficult for the opposition to press, because of his range of passing and confidence on the ball.”
On Jose Mourinho
“After the Manchester City game I thought Jose Mourinho was very complimentary of the Tottenham players. Jose is no longer in a position in the game where he needs to go and grovel with his players, that’s for sure. I think his message after that City game was accurate and heartfelt; I think he was genuinely proud of his players for the efforts they put in.
“It doesn’t look as though Jose has lost the backing of his players. What Daniel Levy and the board’s conversations are with Mourinho, I don’t know. They’re sitting ninth in the table; they’re definitely going to want to be higher than that. If they drop any lower by the end of the season then Jose getting fired is definitely a possibility.
“I don’t like seeing managers getting hired and fired all the time, but I understand that fans and boards want instant success. My take on the situation is that a manager should only really be moved on if they’ve lost the dressing room, and I’m not seeing that at Tottenham right now. But you never know; it’s a results industry. If Tottenham fall down the table any further, of course sacking Jose is going to be a possibility.”
You can continue our chat with Brad who had his say on Tottenham’s season so far, transfers and his West Ham v Tottenham score prediction.