By Ridge Mahoney
American keeper Tim Howard has made the same determination as American teammate Kenny Cooper: Manchester United is one of the world's greatest clubs, but it isn't the right place for him.
Everton has reached an agreement to convert Howard's loan from Manchester United into a transfer, effective in the summer. The club's Web site stated he has signed a five-year contract by which the club controls his rights until 2012.
"The Club share my ambition, that is for sure -- the manager [David Moyes] does and so do the fans," Howard said to evertonTV. "I was drawn to the Club for a number of reasons and the players in the dressing room are one of them."
Howard joined United in 2003 in a 2.3 million pound ($3.6 million) transfer and won the starter's job, playing 44 matches (32 in the league) in the 2003-04 season. But a costly bobble in the Champions League and a few errors in league play prompted Alex Ferguson to platoon Howard with Roy Carrollthe following season, during which Howard played 27 matches.
He signed a new deal with the club weeks before United bought Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar from Fulham. Van der Sar won the No. 1 jersey and Howard played just six matches in the 2005-06 season before being loaned to Everton, for which he has played 27 matches (25 league) and posted 11 shutouts.
During his brief visit to the United States last week to shut out Mexico, 2-0, Howard compared the two English clubs.
"Everything's done differently at every club but for the most part things are on a par," he said. "United's obviously a much, much, bigger club, it's bigger than most clubs in the world, but it's nothing different, nothing crazy. We go to work every day, and have game plans that are usually similar.
"David's very ambitious, well, obviously Ferguson is ambitious and won all the medals, but David's a very young coach. He's accomplished a lot at a young age, He's got a lot of hunger and he's got that Scottish blood in him. He's very, very, very driven and determined and he's passionate. He wears it on his sleeve and he shows it in the dressing room and on the field."
Moyes is one of the younger managers in the EPL at age 43. Fulham manager Chris Coleman, who has the American trio of Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey on his roster, is just 36, but Howard doesn't believe a manager's age has anything to do with picking Americans.
"It's not the younger guys," said Howard. "It's England, it's Europe in general. I said this a couple of years ago, America is the new Africa. Ten years ago, they were plucking young Africans, they were diamonds in the rough, and they were phenomenal.
"I think it's the same here. Nobody thought much of American soccer players, now we get loads of players coming over at fairly decent prices, and they're good."
Cooper, who scored 11 goals for FC Dallas last season and debuted with a goal for the U.S. against Denmark last month, also joined United in 2003 but in two and a half seasons could never break into the first team. He returned to America a year ago after playing for Oldham and Academia Coimbra in Portugal on loan.