FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 8th, 2013
NBC SPORTS GROUP’S PREMIER LEAGUE CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT FEATURING TIM HOWARD
Dan Masonson: Good afternoon everyone. This is Dan Masonson of the NBC Sports Group in Stamford. Welcome to today’s conference call with Tim Howard, the goalkeeper for Everton of the Premier League and the US Men’s National team.
Just a reminder for those of you on today’s call, NBC’s unprecedented coverage of all 380 Premier League matches on TV and via live streaming kicks off next Saturday, August 17, at 7:00 am Eastern on NBC Sports Network.
In the last hour we’ve released final channel assignments for the first three weeks of matches.
With that I will let Tim make an opening comment and we’ll open it up for your questions. Tim?
Tim Howard: Hi, Tim Howard here. Thank you for having me on today. I’m excited as everyone else is for the incredible prospect of having so many Premier League games, all the Premier games available to everyone. It’s unprecedented and it’s an amazing prospect. I’m looking forward to it.
One of the big stories in the Premier League at the moment and over here is Clint Dempsey’s move and I’m wondering what you make of it?
Tim Howard: Yes I know it’s been a long time and I’ve not gotten a chance to speak to him since the move but, I know Clint and I know his family, and if this is a decision that he is happy with then I’m excited for him. I think it’s great for the MLS and for Seattle. And apparently it’s great for Clint, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it.
I’m a firm believer that you get one career and one career only. And you have to do what’s best for you and what’s best for your family.
The only person that can make those decisions and that judgment is Clint himself. So I’m excited for it, looking forward to catching up with him next and hearing all about it so we’ll see.
As a follow-up, are you thinking about perhaps returning to the States someday, perhaps playing in New York with one of the two or three teams here? What’s your long term vision right now?
Tim Howard: I’ve always said it’s hard for me to speak about other teams. I think it’s disrespectful to do that while I’m under contract. You know, the club that I love, I’ve got three years left on my contract. That’s what my future looks like. That’s what’s very concrete for me.
Obviously I’m American so I’m going to put my time in England, and when my time in England and Europe is done, I’m going to live in America and I’m going to be in America.
So if I’m fit and healthy when that time comes, I think anything is possible. But right now, I’m happy and I’m excited for the challenges ahead that I’ve always had here at Everton. That’s pretty much as far as I can look forward to be honest.
You are obviously from this country but spent a lot of your career in Europe and EPL.
I’m wondering with all of this coverage now that NBC’s going to be offering on EPL is there a market or a demand for it here, or do you think it’s going to be slow to catch on?
Tim Howard: No, I think the demand is very high.From what I see and hear in my travels and as you said, I’ve lived there for over a decade now. I think the demand and the American sports fan is just so hungry for soccer now. The coverage that NBC is going to present is needed. It’s been needed for a while because I think everyone wants to watch the Premier League.
Even other athletes in other sports are watching Premier League Soccer just because it’s so exciting. There are so many big names and the games are high tempo. It’s very exciting not only for me, but also my friends and family and people who are going to get to watch.
Not to belabor the Dempsey thing, but relating it to EPL I think just what you said about how there’s such a high demand for Americans watching EPL and understanding what you kind of pioneers have been.
When you’re looking at the US National Team, we sort of have the sense that playing in that high caliber league will help the national team. But Tim, coming back do you think it makes that much difference anymore?
Tim Howard: I personally don’t. I think it’s good – every player’s different, and I think it’s good to go abroad and test yourself and be at that level.
Take Landon Donovan for example. He spent most of his career in MLS and he’s found a way to keep his performance level very, very high so that when he steps into the international game, he doesn’t lose a step, and in fact, he’s one of the better players on the field.
I think he’s shown that and it’s tough to argue with that. Clint will be no different. Clint’s not a little boy, he’s a seasoned veteran. He knows what he needs. He knows what it takes to perform at the highest level, so there’s no question that I think Seattle and MLS can offer him that.
I’ve got a question in regards to Everton. Over the past several years Everton’s come to the United States on pre-season tours, and often times when it comes to the States on the tours you guys started off the season very strongly. I’m kind of wondering in terms of your thoughts on why that may be?
Tim Howard: I’m not 100% sure, you know? I don’t know if it’s luck or what have you. But we enjoy our time in the States and it’s a very loose training camp.
What I mean by that is we work really hard. The things away from the field seem to kind of put us at ease. We’re able to kind of let our hair down and enjoy the cities and the sights, and we’re not under too many restrictions being in America.
I think that this kind of helps the camaraderie and the vibe within the group. Maybe that has something to do with it, I don’t know. But it’s kind of tough to put a finger on it.
The Premier League showed off goal line technology this morning. Just how excited are you for that?
Tim Howard: Yes I’m looking forward to it. It’s one of those things that, from the explanation we got from the referees, it’s such a simple tool, and you start to wonder why it hasn’t been used before. I think it’ll be good.
When you look at how many examples of goal line technology can be used, it’s so difficult for the both the linesmen and the referees to make that call. So the fact that they have help is going to be great.
There may be a few that go against us, but I always feel like in the end there’ll be a few that we think cross the line. Over the course of a season, you know, we’ll get that luck too so it will be exciting. But I must say, if it gets called a goal, I’ll still be arguing it anyway regardless.
Just on your current Everton prospects and plans I mean have you been offered any assurances by Roberto Martinez about whether you are still first choice with Robles arriving?
Tim Howard: Well I don’t think that’s ever been a question, maybe in your mind. I’ve never asked for assurances. I know where I stand. I think my performances over the last 450 games have merited my place where I am right now. So unless I’ve been asleep for a few months and forgotten something, I think all is pretty well in my camp.
A real quick question. How do you think this deal is going to raise awareness for the sport as a whole heading into the World Cup? Do you think it will generate new fans creating some excitement for the World Cup?
Tim Howard: Well I think it’ll generate new fans. It’ll also, keep our current fan base well fed. Anytime you have a World Cup, there’s just so much buzz and so much excitement.
The fact that there are going to be that many more high level games available is just going to feed everyone’s appetite and gearing up to the World Cup people just automatically get excited.
I was just wondering, you know, Landon Donovan obviously came back and had another great Gold Cup. In his place with the World Cup qualifying team, just how much do you want to see him brought back in? And do you think the US is at its very best when he’s there, and do you think he’s answered all the questions that he’s needed to?
Tim Howard: Well I think we’re at our best when we have our best players available. And quite honestly, when you start to stack the chips up, Landon Donovan’s one of our best players and I think that’s not in question.
How he fits in and where manager Jürgen Klinsmann sees him, that’s obviously not down to me.
But I just saw him recently, and I’d be excited to have him be in a World Cup qualifying campaign.
Again, that’s up to the manager and how he sees the dynamic. But if you’re asking me, he’s still a top player. Trust me, if he lines up on the other side to Clint Dempsey or another winger, teams are going to be fearful, and they’re not going to want to see him so it’s certainly a big plus for us.
How would you characterize this preseason under Roberto Martinez and how the team’s shaping up versus previous seasons under David Moyes?
Tim Howard: Sure. Well it’s shaping up good. Trainings have been intense. I think we performed well in a lot of the games. At the end of the day, it’s preseason so fatigue sets in during matches, but that’s to be expected. But it’s been a good preseason. Change is good, but I think the tough part about change is that everyone is having to get on the same page.
The manager and his staff need to learn the players, and the players have to learn the new system and new personalities on the staff, though that part has been a pretty seamless transition, and we’re been excited about that. Our eyes are fixed on that first game against Norwich, but it should be exciting.
If you can talk about Jozy’s move to the Premier League and if you see more Americans coming over at any time soon?
Tim Howard: Yes – Jozy’s been in great form, not only just recently, but also last season and possibly the season before in Holland.
That’s what strikers get paid to do, bang goals and get on hot streaks. And I think he’ll do well in the Premier League. He’s a big boy, he’s got good pace, and he likes to get in front of the goal and finish.
He’s strong enough, particularly in the Premier League, to hold balls up and bring the team into play.
I don’t think he’ll have any problems assimilating. In fact, I think he’ll do really, really well. Hopefully he doesn’t do great against Everton, but I hope the rest of the season will be good for him and he’ll keep in that good form because heading into a World Cup, he’s our moneymaker. He’s a guy we have to ride all the way so, I look forward to him having a great year.
Goalkeepers are a special breed. What drives a man to be a goalkeeper?
Tim Howard: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think the goalkeepers are kind of loony at times. I’m not, but most of them are. And I think it’s by the nature – you wear a different colored shirt, you get to use your hands. I think altogether it’s different. Not to mention you have to put your face in front of a ball every now and then again.
I don’t know the answer to that, but we certainly are a different breed. Most goalkeepers you’ll find are pretty quirky and eccentric, but I’m not so sure why.
I know the focus of the call today is on the Premier League. But the World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica is going to be on us before we know it.
It’s been a really tough place for the US to get results in qualifying, could share some of your thoughts ahead of that really important game?
Tim Howard: Yes, I think you’re right. It’s been a heck of a place to go, you know? But I think the two things that are really going to drive are that we’re on the cusp of qualifying from a points standpoint, and that also under Jürgen Klinsmann we’ve gone to a few places in the last three or four years and gotten results where we’ve never gotten results before.
That gives us motivation and allows us to be hopeful because even though it’s been a very tough place for us to get some results, we’re right on the cusp of it, and we’ve shown resilience to go away from home and pick up points.