Tim Howard picks Chelsea to win title
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has picked Chelsea to win the Premier League this season, while also saying Manchester United have seen too much turnover to challenge for silverware.
Howard laid out his predictions for the upcoming season while appearing on ESPN FC TV on Wednesday, and he spoke glowingly of the job Jose Mourinho has done at Stamford Bridge.
"You never bet against Mourinho," Howard said. "He's a seasoned campaigner and he knows how to navigate the Premier League and win multiple titles. They're fierce at home, they rarely lose at home under Mourinho, if ever.
"They're just a strong, solid team. They were strong last year but Mourinho downplayed their title chances and they've only gotten stronger."
Howard, who doubles as a broadcaster for U.S. network NBC when not playing, didn't completely forget his place as Toffees keeper, though, joking that Chelsea will "just nip Everton on the last day for the title."
The American goalkeeper also said a Chelsea striker holds the title of the player he least likes to face.
"Didier Drogba, who's back at Chelsea now unfortunately for us," Howard said. "He's just powerful, left and right foot strong. He always puts his foot through the ball. He never finesses it and he's always hitting hard."
Howard was less complimentary about Manchester United, however, as Louis Van Gaal is trying to replace the old guard of Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic with a host of players from outside the Premier League, including Juventus' Arturo Vidal, Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria, Ajax's Daley Blind, Sporting Lisbon's Marcos Rojo and Roma's Mehdi Benatia.
"They've had too much turnover to win a title," Howard said. "They've brought in a lot of players and when foreign players come into the Premier League it's very, very difficult for them their first season. So there's been too much turnover there.
"That's a building process and for me, no, they might challenge for [the title] but they certainly won't win it."
Everton are coming off a terrific season where they finished fifth and earned a spot in the Europa League. Howard said he feels his club have what it takes to win at least one of their four competitions this year.
"We feel like we can lift a trophy this year, and certainly finishing in the Champions League places come the end of the season would be a success for us," Howard said. "We're challenging on a lot of fronts, but Roberto Martinez believes in this team and he's built it in such a way that we can compete on all fronts."
As for Everton's crosstown rivals, Howard said Liverpool will be a team to watch -- if they can find a way to replace Luis Suarez's impact.
"I think they'll be competing up there with the best. They are a top team," Howard said. "Luis Suarez put that team on his back and single-handedly put them where they were.
"Pound for pound they lost a lot in Luis Suarez. How they're going to replace it, how they're going to cope with it, I'm just not certain."