Tim Howard was thrust into stratospheric standing amongst Americans with his heroic performances at the World Cup. Lauded by all, branded as the “Secretary of Defense,” indulging in nonchalant phone calls with the President and co-commentating Premier League games for NBCSN; it’s little surprise the 35-year-old is bringing a book out in the coming weeks.
It’s wholly understandable that the American is revered amongst his compatriots and why criticism of him may rub some the wrong way. But somewhere between Howard’s perpetual thwarting of Belgium in Salvador in July and Everton’s recent 1-1 draw with Hull City, the goalkeeper has lost his way. And that’s why it’s important to look at this criticism through the eyes of an Evertonian (and a season ticket holder, at that).
Being beaten at his near post by Sone Aluko, the Toffees’ No. 24 let the Tigers score with their first and only shot on target in what was an abrasive 90 minutes served up by Roberto Martinez’s team. But this wasn’t an out-of-line instance, it was the latest unfortunate blip in what’s been a sorry season for Howard.
Myriad mistakes in a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, two more in the moribund display at Tottenham Hotspur and a serious lapse in judgement have condemned Everton to defeats in the Premier League this season. An inability to set-up a wall appropriately in games against Liverpool and Sunderland have lead to the concession of vital goals, while plain naivety against Manchester United led to Falcao’s eventual winner.
Perhaps the adulation has gone to his head? Perhaps the lack of competition over the past few seasons has finally caught up with him? Maybe age is simply beginning to take it’s toll? Regardless, while Martinez has supported his goalkeeper in the public domain, it’s time to cast a ruthless eye over Howard’s poor form.
The American hasn’t been assisted by a fair portion of abject defending from those in front of him, and that’s another facet of the team Martinez must work diligently on to resolve. The long and short of it is that Howard is becoming more than hindrance for the Toffees; the coalescence of rudimentary mistakes have made him a plain liability.
Nonetheless, calls for him to be dropped have been swatted aside by many of a blue persuasion. The premise being that Howard’s potential replacement, Joel Robles, is not up to scratch. But such are the incompetent levels being displayed by Everton’s current first choice at the moment, his deputy—a man who Martinez brought in from Wigan on a five-year deal—surely couldn’t do much worse.