Arena: Howard a scapegoat
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Bruce Arena claims Tim Howard has been made a scapegoat for Man Utd's problems.United States national team coach Bruce Arena claims Tim Howard has been made a scapegoat for Manchester United's goalkeeping problems.
Howard started the season as Old Trafford number one but was abruptly axed from that position in September after mistakes against Bolton Wanderers and Lyon.
The American has not appeared in The Premiership since, with Roy Carroll having been given an extended run in the team.
But Carroll's costly gaffe against Milan on Wednesday refuelled the debate about who should be United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's first choice.
Howard's international boss Arena feels his charge was treated unfairly when he was dropped and has been forced to shoulder much of the blame for the goalkeeping plight at Old Trafford.
"It was clearly the easy option to blame the American goalkeeper," Arena told the Daily Mail.
"Instead of sticking by him and building his confidence, it was decided that Tim should be out of the picture. Tim quickly became the scapegoat.
"Let's face it, if somebody was going to be stood down from the team or sat down for a talking to, it was hardly going to be Roy Keane was it?
"It was easier for it to be Tim. What he needs is some experience and support when things are not going well. It didn't happen."
Arena believes Howard should have been allowed to stay between the posts until Rio Ferdinand had returned to the team after suspension.
Ferdinand's comeback, soon after Howard was dropped, coincided with United's defence being shored up, and Arena feels his keeper would have benefited from playing with the England international ahead of him.
He added: "Tim was unlucky that he did not play behind a team that had the best defender in the world in it.
"Everybody knows that United's defence statistics were way worse during the time that Rio Ferdinand was banned.
"I still believe he will become United's number one for a long time and I know he will be the American number one."