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Premier League - Football: Brad Friedel - Tottenham to miss out on Top 4 places

A Premier League stalwart, Brad Friedel is best known for holding the Premier League record for the most consecutive club appearances (310), while playing for Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur.

Having won the Football League Cup with Blackburn and having played alongside the Ballon d’Or winners of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, he’s a highly respected international goalkeeper who’s recently turned his attention to coaching.

Brad Friedel sat down with bet365 to discuss the futures of Matt Turner and Auston Trusty, who he’s backing to make the top four, what it was like playing with and against Steven Gerrard and whether Blackburn can make it back into the Premier League this season.

Arsenal have agreed a deal for USA international Matt Turner. What do you make of him, and could he challenge Aaron Ramsdale for the No.1 jersey?

I coached Matt and gave him his professional debut. Matt is an outstanding shot stopper. He will be able to put pressure on Ramsdale, I've no doubt about it. What I would say, is this will be the first time in Matt's Career that he sees what competition for places truly is.

He's such a good kid and a solid human being. With my other North London ties, I've not spoken with anyone at Arsenal about him or on behalf of him, so I don't know what the plans are, with Ramsdale, Leno and the amazing goalkeeper they have in their academy.

But this will be the first time Matt goes into a club and sees four, five, six top quality goal keepers all training at the same time, so it'll be interesting to see how he copes with it all.

Can he challenge? Yeah, absolutely - but like anyone he'll need to adapt and get used to the pace of the game. What's great is he'll be getting a pre-season with Arsenal, so perfect for him to get acclimated.

The Gunners have also completed the signing of Turner's compatriot Auston Trusty. How highly-rated is he, and do you believe he will be sent out on loan next season?

I coached Auston as well, really good in defence, really powerful in the air, left-footed so he can be deployed as a left sided centre back but also a left back if needs be. This will be an interesting one to see. It's going to be a big jump for Auston, but he's a great kid, really hard worker and I want to see everything work out for him, I really do.

It'll be interesting to see the amount of playing time he can get. I wouldn't want to say now it'll be a certainty that he'll be sent out on loan because like Matt Turner, he'll join in the summer and go through a pre-season, so let's see what happens and whether he can win himself a place inside that squad.

Tottenham continue to suffer from poor results, why do you think they are struggling at the moment (outside of the unexpected win over City at the weekend).

I think there's quite a few players who will be in Antonio Conte's plans and there's quite a few who probably won't.

At Tottenham, it takes a little bit longer normally to get the transfers going because Daniel Levy is very good in the transfer market financially. He's never going to put the club in any financial difficulty, and it'll be easier for him to do all the deals in the summer.

As we've seen over quite a few windows now, in the January transfer window you have to pay a big premium on top of the market rate to get the players you want, but even before we look at potential transfers, I see progression at the club for sure.

I know they'd lost three on the bounce before the result against Man City, but they've got one of the best managers globally at the helm, he knows how to win, he knows the players he wants and it's just going to take a little bit of time to get those players through the door.

Once those players are in, Antonio Conte is going to have a really strong Tottenham team. They still have really great players now, just not all of them will fit into his squad next season.

The fans are going to have to deal with a bit of inconsistency and rough patches until he has the players he wants, and the system is in place. I don't foresee any major problems or struggles; I see them building again.

Could he leave if he doesn't get the players he wants?

With how good he is and how much experience he has, then I'm sure if he's not able to get his players in then I'm sure he'd look to leave the club.

I know Daniel Levy's not going to change the wage structure and transfer policy, so hopefully those two can work it out to get the players in.

Is now the time for Tottenham to replace Hugo Lloris?

In one word, no.

Who are you backing to finish fourth behind Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea?

This is a hard question! Man United are now in there again, so it's incredibly difficult to back one as it could go to three or four teams. I hate to say it, but I'm going to have go with Arsenal even though I really want it to be Tottenham.

Morgan Gamst Pedersen and Tugay were two of the most memorable players at Blackburn during your time there. What do you remember of them? How influential were they?

Two entirely different people on their influences within the club. Tugay was brought in by Graeme Souness. I played with Tugay at Galatasaray as well - I'm not sure if Graeme had a part to play in it, but he must have, given his relationship with Rangers, as Tugay went from Galatasaray to Rangers; when he got the opportunity to join after we were promoted to the Premier League.

Tugay is one of the most gifted footballers you could ever be around. He didn't like to run in the later stages of his career, but he didn't need to. He controlled the tempo of the game with his passing. Such a great teammate, mild mannered guy, a winner, just a truly gifted, all-rounder of a footballer.

He hardly ever did an interview, he hardly ever spoke outwardly about anything, would always be there for children at the club, charity events - he grew on the fans as the years went on purely from being such a solid individual and such a great player.

Gamst was the complete opposite. He was an extrovert, he'd do the interviews, he wore all the gear, his hair was a certain way, he had an image about him.

But again, a really nice guy and a powerful left foot. Very good in the air and he was another player that Graeme had brought into the club.

The way Blackburn worked with John Williams and the board, they'd pay really good transfer fees and wages down the spine of the team, and they'd usually do one extra. And when Gamst came into the club and started really performing and Damien Duff left, Gamst was that extra, so to speak.

He came up with some huge goals out of nothing, was a great free kick taker, crosser of the ball and worker. An all-round great pro.

Blackburn may be struggling of late, but do you think they could still be promoted to the Premier League?

I hope so, the Championship is such a strange league sometimes. There are so many games where your destiny is decided on a shot hitting the post or it going in, a referee's decision for you or against you, injury or suspension at the right or wrong times and a lot of the teams are on a similar level when it comes to quality.

When it comes to the play-offs, a lot of teams who have sneaked into 5th or 6th on recent form have the advantage going into it and not necessarily the teams who were better over the course of the season.

So, do Blackburn have the quality? Yes, but they need a few things to fall their way, too. Hopefully if they're in the mix at the send of the season, they can get their players mentally and physically set for the play-off run in, because it’s a tough old league to get out of.

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How impressed have you been by Philippe Coutinho and Jacob Ramsey's partnership at Aston Villa?

This is a perfect example of how being a recent former player can bring enormous benefits to a football club when they’re the new manager. The friendship Steven Gerrard and Philip Coutinho have, will have made the move viable.

I don't think Coutinho would ever have gone from Barcelona to Aston Villa if Gerrard wasn't there and I say that with all the love and respect for the club.

It's not a normal move. I think this was a move for and on behalf of Steven Gerrard. And Coutinho on his day is one of the best in the world. He has the vision; he is the player that can replace what they lost in Jack Grealish.

In the final third, Coutinho has a special power, getting him into the club has been a remarkable achievement and I look forward to seeing what he can achieve there.

You were a notoriously good penalty stopper during your career. Emiliano Martinez, at your former club Aston Villa, also has a similar reputation, although his antics are a lot more controversial. What do you make of him doing everything he can to put opponents off?

It wasn't my style, but everyone has their own way and I guess as long as he's dishing out the banter in the right way, I don't have an issue with it.

What I would say is, if he's giving it all out and the player does score against him, they're going to come right back at him. My style was much different from that - I'd focus more on myself, what I wanted to do and detections in the run up, as opposed to psychologically trying to throw the striker off.

But Emi and other goalkeepers like him will eventually run into the striker that can't mentally compose himself as well, so they’re right to try it. We all have our own styles, whatever works - so long as they don't do or say anything that crosses the line.

How does it feel to be part of the exclusive club of Premier League goalkeeping goal scorers?

I don't talk about it too much because we lost the game. We tied it up 2-2, we were euphoric for a couple of seconds and then we conceded last minute!

So, in the history books I guess it's fine, and it’s great to be on that list of goalkeepers, but it’s a sore point for me as it was such a deflating day.

What do you think of Gerrard as a manager? I believe you knew him when he was a youngster at Liverpool, what was he like then? Did you see traits of a manager even at that age?

When I was with him, he was 17/18 maybe 19 so as a result I never looked at him as a manager.

What I would say you could see when I played against him, was how good he was at Liverpool on the pitch, how he controlled games and the tempo of games and communicated with his players. So yes, you could definitely see a manager in there.

I know Stevie off the field, players will love playing for him, they'll respect him. But just because you were a great player doesn't automatically mean you'll be a great manager.

He’s learned from very, very good coaches along the way on how to be a great coach, so I don't think you'll hear many players coming out against him.

I was really excited as an ex-Aston Villa player to see the hire of Steven Gerrard. It's a wonderful club and I think he can do wonderful things.

I saw he brought Gary McAllister with him who was with Gerard Houllier, so he knows the club when they were coaching together at Aston Villa.

Ultimately, they have a top young football mind at the helm in Stevie. I hope he's incredibly successful and can stay there for a long time.

Aston Villa have a Royal following - did that add extra pressure to match results?

It came up a couple of times when we were playing at Wembley but as far as extra pressure, no, it wasn’t there.

It’s great for the club and the exposure it brought. Perhaps some of the local boys will have felt it more. When I was at Villa, I was in my late 30's / early 40's so I was just grateful to be able to walk off the pitch after each training session!

Another big player during your career was John Carew at Villa. What do you remember of him? What was it like to have him as a teammate?

He was a great teammate. Fun, fun guy. On his day, that guy could be the best. He was so fast, strong, skilful, his shot was powerful. He was a funny guy to be around as a teammate. He loved the game and I loved playing with big John.

When we'd be trying to play out from the back when teams where pressuring us, he could hold the ball up, he was so hard to defend against. I really enjoyed playing with him.

I have no idea what he's doing these days though, probably modelling or acting.

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