Has brad friedel's career in the premiership come full circle? (#721) on 22-05-2011 at 16:55:03
Apart from the fans of Liverpool FC, still hoping to cap a disappointing season with a place in next seasons Europa League, todays fixture at Villa Park was not of the highest Premier League billing compared to those that offered significance into who was going to escape the same fate as West Ham.As it turned out, a 33rd minute goal from Stewart Downing was sufficient enough in providing Aston Villa with a 1-0 victory, giving them the three points as they claimed a 9th place finish well clear of the relegation zone which they had so often been drawn towards throughout this past campaign. Brad Friedel, an ever present in the Aston Villa side as usual, and 40 years young earlier this week, produced a sterling performance against his former club. A fine save to deny Raul Meireles a certain equalizer in the 61st minute, reminded us all of Friedel's high standards and consistency set since his personally long awaited Premiership debut back in 1998. With rumours circulating in the press this week about the possibility of Ben Foster making the switch across Birmingham from newly relegated City, the question is considering Friedel's current contract expires this summer, have we seen the last of Brad Friedel in the Premier League? If it is to be the case that Friedel either hangs up his gloves and retires, or follows the paths set by previous American Premier League stalwarts, i.e Messrs Reyna, McBride and Keller, and takes the route back home for a final flourish in the MLS, then we have all witnessed Brad Friedel take his Premiership bow at the ground where it all began. Curious as it is, despite numerous non-starts with Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United and Sunderland, Friedel made his Premiership debut in 1998 for Liverpool against Aston Villa at Villa Park. Despite tasting defeat on his first Premiership outing after getting beaten twice by the then Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore, Friedel put in a credible performance including a fine one v one save to deny a Manchester United bound Dwight Yorke getting on the score sheet. After vying for the Anfield number one slot with David James for a season and a half, both goalkeepers were not long in heading for the Anfield exit door soon after the sole appointment of Gerard Houllier back in 1999. Houllier sought to bring in a different goalkeeper in aquiring exspensive dutch goalkeeper Sander Westerveld fom Vitesse Arnhem, which in turn put Friedel's Premiership career in jeopardy as he became frozen out of Houllier's plans giving Friedel little to no first team opportunity. It was only when Graeme Souness, who originally tried to sign Friedel for Liverpool whilst in charge in the early nineties, offered Friedel a career lifeline when he signed him on a free for Blackburn Rovers in 2001. The rest is history as they say as Friedels career went from strength to strength upon joining Blackburn, as for Gerard Houllier, it seems strange that the man responsible for nearly ending Friedel's Premiership career should be the man in charge of Friedel during the autumn of his career at Aston Villa. It would appear that Gerard Houllier obviously underestimated Friedel during his Anfield days which begs the question perhaps if he had given Friedel the benefit of the doubt more back then, then perhaps both men would have had arguably lengthier careers at Anfield with greater success. Although there are now question marks about the pending Aston Villa futures of both Brad Friedel and Gerard Houllier, both men can take pride in having got one over on their former employers on the final day of the 2010-11 Premier League season, thus condemming the reds to a season without European football next campaign.
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