Tim Howard has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson gave him the fabled hair-dryer treatment… on his first-team debut for Manchester United back in 2003.
The American goalkeeper has recently released his autobiography, entitled ‘The Keeper’, and in it he has held few secrets from his time as a professional player. As relayed by the Daily Mirror however arguably the most juicy piece of insight available to those who followed his career whilst he was number one at Old Trafford will be an extract focusing on the club’s legendary manager.
Sir Alex introduced Howard to English football after purchasing him from the MLS, and his the ‘keeper’s first game in between the sticks for the Red Devils happened to be a Community Shield showdown with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.
For most coaches the fixture in question presents a perfect opportunity to embed new signings into their side and given players a chance to play without the inevitable pressure of the Premier League. That wasn’t the case, or at least so it would seem, for Ferguson.
"At halftime, Ferguson just about took my head off," said Howard.
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"At halftime, Ferguson just about took my head off"
"'A three-man wall!' he shouted, the muscles around his jaw so tight I could see them flex. 'Against Henry! You needed four men on that wall. You've got to think' - he jabbed both index fingers at his forehead - 'when you play this game.'
"'If you cannae handle the f*****g stage' - his Scottish accent was coming through loud and clear - "I'll send you right back to the MLS."
"His final words to me were soaked in derision. 'You're not in America anymore, son.'"
Struggles at United
Following that match, which finished in favour of United after a 4-3 penalty-shootout win, Howard went on to enjoy a productive maiden campaign in English football - one that saw him part of the side that won the F.A Cup - but a number of errors shattered his confidence and he struggled to fend off competition from Roy Carroll for his position.
From there it went downhill for Howard with regards to his Red Devils career, with the 2004/05 season seeing him make just 12 Premier League appearances before the introduction of Edwin van der Sar to Ferguson’s fold. The following season he was only able to make one league outing, before moving on to Everton in 2006 - initially on loan.
For all of his scepters however the 35-year-old has been a leal servant at Goodison Park, and this summer’s showing in the World Cup earned him plenty of plaudits from neutral audiences.
Roberto Martinez’s Toffees have a strong spine which Howard is a vital part of, and it's safe to assume he’ll remain in the Premier League until he hangs up his boots - although a move back to the MLS is also an obvious route.