The Brad Friedel vs. Tim Howard saga raged on Thursday, with an official statement from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) only adding to the fire and making things less clear.
“PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor stated: ‘With regard to the appeal by Manchester United on behalf of Tim Howard, which was successful, we have been asked to confirm that the PFA did not receive any correspondence from Brad Friedel in opposition of Tim Howard’s work permit application,'” was the statement released Thursday.
To be clear, in that statement, Taylor did or didn’t confirm what he was asked to confirm?
Howard’s belief, as he states in an excerpt from his soon-to-be-released memoir, “The Keeper” (featuring a number of choice comments aimed at Friedel), is that since Friedel was denied a work permit to join Nottingham Forest in 1993, he would do Howard no favors when navigating the process a decade later. I had to do it, so you have to do it sort of thing.
“The legal team at Manchester United — the ones who had originally applied for my papers — had already told me that Brad hadn’t merely refused to sign a statement on my behalf, he had actively tried to block my transfer,” Howard writes. “He’d written to the appeals committee suggesting that I shouldn’t be given a work permit at all.”
Friedel vehemently denies sabotaging Howard’s appeal, something Howard says Friedel attempted to explain a number of years ago, and emphatically stated again in a Wednesday statement to ESPN FC.
“He showed me one document after another as he spoke without a pause,” Howard recalls of the past conversation. “I glanced at the papers and passed them back. The crux of his presentation was this: if he’d had this much trouble getting a work permit, why should he make it easy for me? ‘It’s a matter of principle, you see,’ he said.”
“That whole conversation is backward,” Friedel said on Wednesday. “The ‘principle’ that I was talking about was I couldn’t sign the letter based on principle because it was full of lies.”
In the end, it seems to be one man’s word against another another’s. As is almost always the case, the truth surely lies somewhere in between the two sides’ stories.