Ready for an Indian adventure

Manuel Friedrich, who has played for the German national team under Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Loew, will soon be busy trying to acclimatise himself to Indian conditions, during the Mumbai City FC’s pre-season training at the Father Agnel Ground in Vashi, Mumbai. By Nandakumar Marar.

Manuel Friedrich, who has played at the highest level in Europe, has taken a plunge in unchartered waters, signing for Mumbai City FC for the inaugural Indian Super League. The former German international was part of the Borussia Dortmund squad last season. Borussia incidentally is coached by his former FSC Mainz team-mate Jurgen Klopp.

A spirit of adventure played a huge part in Friedrich’s decision to move to Mumbai, with the club’s COO, the Germany-based Arunava Chaudhuri, playing an instrumental role in sealing the deal. Friedrich, who has played for the German national team under Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Loew, will soon be busy trying to acclimatise himself to Indian conditions, during the team’s pre-season training at the Father Agnel Ground in Vashi, Mumbai.

Excerpts from a chat with the 35-year-old defender:

Question: Germany’s playing style has evolved over the last few years. The team now is playing a speedy, skilful game, scoring delightful goals. What was the trigger behind this change in style?

Answer: It (the style) is different (from the past), it is changing. Like in life, you try to learn from your mistakes and develop your play. And that is what Germany has done. Under Klinsmann, and then Loew, the team has been playing good football. Germany was the best team at the World Cup and deservedly won. For me, it was not a big surprise.

Did you sense this change during your time with the national side? Did you need to make any adjustment to your game to fit into the system?

I did sense a change. Klinsmann tried some new training methods, special things from the United States. For me, it was the first time with the national team — I played one match under Klinsmann and then Loew took over. However, I did not have to change anything. Our training at the club level was almost similar.

What’s your view on Bayern Munich’s domination of the Bundesliga?

Bayern is doing a really good job. With their money they can do whatever they want. If there is a really good player in another club, Bayern offers a lot of money. You cannot blame the players when that kind of offer comes up. Bayern is doing almost perfect work and has achieved everything. Sometimes it is also a little boring. You know Bayern will win everything and your only chance to win the championship is if Bayern is struggling.

You had a great working relationship with Klopp at Dortmund. How would you rate him as a coach?

I used to play with him at Mainz. We are friends and click because we think at the same level. For me, he will never be a normal coach, he is like a friend and that is why he called me to join Dortmund. I was trying to play in Asia (Thailand) and it did not work out. I took the right decision and enjoyed a really good half year at Dortmund. Klopp is really crazy, he is at his job 24 hours a day and if you need any help he is always there for you.

What can the Indian fans expect from you once the ISL starts?

They can be sure that I will always give my hundred percent for the team and do my best to help them win.