Barber - Wanderers are in safe hands
FRED Barber - the man who sculpted goalkeepers at Bolton Wanderers for last 16 years - reckons he has left behind another potential legend in Adam Bogdan.
The outgoing coach, best known for his work with Jussi Jaaskelainen, officially called time on his long association with the Whites yesterday.
Although he is yet to decide on his next move, Barber has been tipped to follow Jaaskelainen and Sam Allardyce back into the Premier League with West Ham.
And the rate of improvement he has seen in Bogdan over recent seasons leaves him confident that Wanderers will bounce back at the first time of asking.
“Adam has come on really well and he has a big future ahead of him,” he told The Bolton News.
“Looking back to when he first signed, Sammy Lee sent him to me to evaluate on one of my pro training camps, and to be honest we took a chance. It wasn’t clear cut.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet but I trust in my methods and I knew if we worked with Adam and he bought into what we were doing, he could make a goalkeeper. That happened quicker than I thought it would but I think it proves we were right.
“Now he’s number one and I’d like to think he can help the club come straight back up. He was a pleasure to work with.”
Jaaskelainen’s exit means the spotlight shines even brighter on Bogdan in the Championship this season.
Barber predicts the Big Finn will play on for some time yet - but claims he will take pride in seeing his former protégé taking on his mantle at the Reebok.
“The professionalism he showed in helping Adam through shows you exactly what kind of a guy Jussi is,” he said. “He didn’t complain, or start hammering on the manager’s door - he just got on with it.
“Jussi can play until he’s 40, and it’s possible in the Premier League when you look at people like Brad Friedel.
“I personally think he was still one of the best around last season, even though injuries made it difficult for him.
“You certainly don’t become a bad keeper overnight.”
During his time with the club Barber also helped Ali Al-Habsi, Rob Lainton and Jay Lynch establish themselves in the professional ranks, and also revealed that Tomasz Kuszczak nearly became a Wanderer after being spotted on one of the coach’s renowned goalkeeping camps.
Though relegation has spelled the end of his time at Bolton, which began in 1996 on a part-time basis under Colin Todd, Barber says there are no hard feelings.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of working at Bolton,” he said. “For me it’s just another fresh challenge ahead.
“I’d like to thank Owen, the chairman and the owner for everything and wish them the very best of luck for the future. I really hope the club go straight back up next season.”