United keeper spat calmed
By Chris Bergin (ussocceruk.com)
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Howard - signed from New York/New Jersey MetroStars for around £2.5 million by Manchester United - gained his work permit despite only having three qualifying caps to his name.
Friedel signed with Liverpool from Columbus but had a long drawn-out battle to gain his employment visa in England.
Reports claim that Friedel - now with Blackburn Rovers - refused to sign a signature form that was gained as part of Manchester United's ammunition for the work permit appeal hearing for Howard, noting he had written a letter to the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) to ask why work permit rules had been "so dramatically relaxed since he applied."
Howard's application was immediately sent to an appeal process due to his lack of caps but it was successful after United manager Sir Alex Ferguson personally vouched his intentions to play the American.
"It's not a problem," Howard said to Sports Illustrated. "I don't have a beef with Brad, he doesn't have a beef with me.
"We're competitors, in the true sense of the word. There's not an issue, there won't be an issue."
Friedel himself noted that he is happy for Howard's impressive debut season in England, but added that he is yet to be fully tested due to the club he is playing for.
"Timmy's done very well so far," Friedel stated. "He's in a luxury position, playing with Manchester United, where he can get away with a few things.
"That's good, because the pressure's off him a bit.
"But now it's crunch time. Now things go under the microscope. Because of what he's done so far, I hope the fans give him some breathing space.
"But it's absolutely fantastic for him: He's going to learn to cope."
The report also claimed there was a potential problem - due to a United States agent turf war - between some of the American players when DC United's Bobby Convey lost his appeal to gain a work permit to play for Tottenham, although that appears to be wide of the mark, given the likes of former US international captain John Harkes was just one of the well-known US players to have played in England who wrote letters of recommendation for Convey.