[AMERICANS ABROAD] Brad Friedel would like to remember Frenchman Gerard
Houllier, his new boss at Aston Villa, for what he did in helping rebuild Liverpool rather than for anything that led to Friedel's departure from Anfield.
Despite speculation that Houllier might look to replace the 39-year-old Friedel during the January transfer window -- the name mentioned is Watford goalie Scott Loach -- Friedel praised Houllier's contributions at Liverpool.
"There was a lot that needed to be done at Liverpool when he took over -- not only the first team but the whole infrastructure of the club," he told AVTV. "He had a lot of work to do there and he did very well indeed. Liverpool were falling behind Arsenal and Manchester United not just on the field but off the field with the youth setup, with the merchandising and with the global brand, in a sense."
Houllier left his position as technical director of the French soccer federation after France's 1998 World Cup championship to become co-manager at Liverpool with Ray Evans. Within four months, Evans resigned, leaving Houllier with, as Friedel says, "a lot on his plate."
"But he did a fantastic job," added Friedel. "When people go back there and see the new Melwood [training center] and things of that nature, they can attribute all that to him. I am very hopeful he can take this club forward. He's very astute and very professional. He always gets the best out of his clubs."
Friedel arrived at Liverpool nine months before Houllier but never secured the starting job held by Dutchman Sander Westerveld. After two seasons, he left on a free transfer to Blackburn, where he excelled for eight seasons.
Friedel joined Villa in 2008 and Houllier was named Villa manager on Sept. 8, a month after Martin O'Neill quit.
Wednesday's League Cup match against Blackburn was Houllier's first game in charge after being released from his contract with the French federation.
Aston Villa won, 3-1. Friedel and many other starters were rested. Fellow American Brad Guzan started in goal, while American Eric Lichaj started on the backline.