New England Revolution general manager Mike Burns hit back at the criticism he received over hiring Brad Friedel as the MLS club's new coach, calling his former U.S. teammate "the best person for the job bar none."
Friedel, 46, will take on his first club coaching job since ending his long Premier League career in 2015, and his inexperience poses a risk for the Revolution after they missed the playoffs for the second straight year and fired coach Jay Heaps in September.
But Burns, who played with Friedel and his assistant Mike Lapper during the 1990s, insisted at the new coach's introductory conference that his close ties played no part in the hiring process.
"There's been some criticism out there that I've hired a friend, and I want to address this head on: He, in my opinion, is the best person for the job bar none, and of anyone I spoke with," Burns said.
"I feel like it's a new beginning for us. But Brad for me, is the best person for the job, he's the right person for the job on the field, off the field. I know these are just words right now and our actions and our results and all of that will end up dictating everything, but I feel extremely fortunate that Brad is here."
Friedel, who since retiring as a player has coached the U.S. under-19 team and worked as a television analyst, also said he was ready for the challenge.
"I wouldn't have taken this if I didn't think myself and my entire staff were ready for it," the former goalkeeper said. "I wish that preseason started tomorrow to be honest; we have some time now.
"The good of that is we have time to prepare the squad on how we want to do it. The bad news is we have to wait to get on the training ground."
The unique roster rules in MLS can present additional hurdles for managers who have spent most of their careers abroad, but Friedel said he has focused on becoming well-versed in the U.S. system since leaving Tottenham.
"The last two and a half years, I've also been engulfed in the U.S. system the whole time," Friedel said. "I understand the salary cap, I understand the [allocation money] arrangements, I understand the [designated player] process, I understand how certain clubs operate under those budgets and certain clubs want to operate over that budget.
"That's irrelevant to us. Whatever budget is given to us, we'll work with."