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Tim Howard at Everton must be dropped

timhoward

Ironic cheers from supporters form a key part of the soundtrack to modern day soccer, but it’s rare to hear home fans direct these jibes in the direction of their own players.

Tim Howard and Everton fans are a special case at the moment, though. Applause and whoops rung out from the Gwladys Street when the United States international came and claimed a cross midway through the first half during the 4-3 loss to Stoke City, having hopelessly flapped at rudimentary ball into the box just seconds earlier.

The response from the 36-year-old, who is one of the most experienced goalkeepers in English game, was to sarcastically applaud the fans behind the goal, then turn and tread back towards his goalmouth, shaking his head in their direction.

It’s not the first time Howard has interacted with the Everton supporters in that section of the stadium in recent weeks. The American reacting slowly or being rooted to his line has been a common occurrence at Goodison Park this season, and the fans, as is the case with any player, will make their frustrations known if errors are made.

Most just get on with the game, but Howard has decided to bark back to supporters, gesturing at some to calm down on more than one occasion. It’s behavior which has only sought to rile supporters further, adding momentum to the opinion that the former Manchester United man is finished as a top-level goalkeeper.

Of course, in an ideal world, supporters would be emphatically behind their own players for the duration of the match, but such is the disillusionment with the man between the sticks. It’s tough to keep emotions in check, especially during a pulsating contest as was the case Monday against Stoke City.

Indeed, we only need to look to the second half for an example of why there are so many supporters who want Howard out of the side. With Everton battling back brilliantly from 2-1 down to lead 3-2, the American parried a cross straight into the path of Joselu, who equalized. It was a critical point in the game and once again, a moment in which the ‘keeper was found wanting.

Over a year ago, I penned an article for World Soccer Talk calling for Howard to be removed from the firing line and still the issue remains unaddressed by Everton manager Roberto Martinez.

Granted, the goalkeeper is not the sole issue in a team which has been hapless in defense this term, but he’s been a key contributor to some of the woeful goals this team has conceded. The list of mistakes made by the American is a long one, and the bald facts show that in 2015-16, whenever Everton have been leading a game by one goal, Howard has yet to save a shot on target.

Sarcastically sniping at those fans who have supported him for years is indicative of a man who knows he’s under no pressure to perform. “It’s water off my back,” bullishly claimed the ‘keeper earlier this term when asked about building criticism. “My numbers and record will speak for themselves.”

SEE MORE: Spurs are showing that a title challenge is possible.

Indeed, the crux of the issue is that for all Howard’s errors, the detrimental effect he has on the back four and the fact a capable young goalkeeper is sat on the bench, Martinez has persisted with him.

After Joel Robles had a storming game in the League Cup against Norwich City, making a string of saves during the game and helping Everton win the tie on penalties, the Everton boss said there’s “not even a doubt” that Howard would be returning to the team despite two glaring errors from the goalkeeper at Arsenal just days before. That attitude sends out an awful message to those players on the periphery of the first team pushing for a regular start.

It’s an issue which many predicted would eventually become critical for the manager, and we’re fast approaching that point. While there are a host of other frailties preventing Everton from realizing their potential at the moment, the choice of goalkeeper and all the connotations this blind faith carries has been Martinez’s biggest shortcoming with the Toffees.

Howard has been a tremendous servant for Everton, and during the David Moyes era, he was one of the most capable ‘keepers in the league. But we’ve seen when even the best players reach the twilight of their career, there is a point when form suddenly plunges, and they’re never the same again. Sadly, the United States international is well beyond that point.

And the toxic situation being created by Martinez’s persistence with Howard is souring what should be fond recollections for Evertonians of a fine goalkeeper. The manager, for the sake of the player, the team and his own future, must take decisive action in the immediacy to prevent this farcical situation from getting any worse.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. yespage

    January 4, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Howard has 5 clean sheets (mid-pack) and 66 saves (third in the league). His save percentage is about average. He has allowed the third most goals of any keeper in the league. However, Everton have allowed the fourth most shots on target. Only one keeper has faced more shots and has given up fewer goals (hands up for Stoke’s Jack Butland!!!).

    This seems to imply that Everton give up too many shots and Howard is having an average season, not quite the apocalyptic disaster being alluded to.

  2. Peter Clarke

    January 3, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Thought Howard’s comments about statistics not lying and not caring what people think we’re totally arrogant.
    There should have been a backlash whilst he was between the posts. However the biggest culprit in this has to be Martinez who can clearly see that Howard does not give confidence to his defenders and picks him anyway. Sign of a very stubborn man and will probably cost him his job.

  3. Lee, Huyton

    January 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Howard comes across as one arrogant person, he’s out of form and way past his best. He needs to be replaced NOW.

    Robles may not be the long term answer, but he deserves a run in the side.

    Hilarious we have a few fans defending Howard….probably the same type of fan that defends Bill Kenwright.

  4. Gavin Ramejkis

    January 1, 2016 at 11:20 am

    No surprise David Kurtz has piped up here to defend Tim Howard when he has him as the image to promote his own business selling merchandising to US based Everton fans. Pipe down David your views are based purely on self interests and pictures of dead presidents. Will you articulate similarly on other teams you also profit from in the US when they come under attack? You had the naivety to claim Robert Earl a lifelong Spurs fan is an Evertonian, anything to do with the merchandising deal you have? You also claimed that the two Arsenal goals Howard conceded this season were world class but went silent when presented still from a UK based newspaper showing him flapping at fresh air. Then again you ignore statistics claiming they are incorrect when they came from those media minnows the BBC and ESPN.

  5. Brendan

    January 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Howard has been one of the more consistent EFC players over the last few years. To blame the keeper for pathetic back four play and absent holding midfield play is just wrong. This is not his best season that’s for sure but to say that if they replace him things will get better is a joke. How about we replace Gareth barely covers any ground Barry? I love Seamus coleman but he constantly gets caught too far forward and opponents tend to counter on his side of the pitch. There are a lot of issues with this team that definitely need fixing. I think we’ve seen that Robles is not a starting keeper in this league from his small sample size. A world class keeper would be great but I wonder if our budget would allow for a real difference maker?

    • Gavin Ramejkis

      January 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Midfielder, at the age of 34, still ranks in top five for distances covered in Barclays Premier League

      Everton’s Gareth Barry has run almost 92km for Everton this season

      James Milner is one of four players to have covered more ground than Barry this season

      West Brom’s Gareth McAuley is the next highest 34-year-old in the rankings, with 60.2km
      Gareth Barry is showing that age is no barrier to maintaining an all-action style in the middle of the field for Everton.
      Tracking data shows that the 34-year-old is fifth in the rankings of distance covered by players Barclays Premier League this season, and the midfielder is also one match away from a landmark moment.
      Barry has covered 91.9 kilometres this term, ranking behind Liverpool’s James Milner, AFC Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman and Matt Ritchie and Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal. The only other player aged 30 or over in the top 10 for distance covered is West Bromwich Albion’s Darren Fletcher, who has run 90.2km.
      The next-highest 34-year-old in the rankings is West Brom defender Gareth McAuley, who has run 30.7km fewer than Barry.
      Most distance covered in 2015/16

      Player (Club) Distance
      Milner (LIV) 99.9km
      Surman (BOU) 96.2km
      Ritchie (BOU) 95.4km
      Ramsey (ARSl) 93.6km
      Barry (EVE) 91.9km

  6. Lloyd Grant

    January 1, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Martinez needs to get some backbone and do what is right for E.F.C. Howard has cost us dear this season and it cannot be allowed to go on. I love my club and see an exciting squad that can do something but without a decent shot stopper we will win nothing. Think of all the great premier sides and all had a great goalkeeper. Man up Martinez why will you not make changes that are obvious to every Evertonian.

  7. Ben Lawrenson

    December 31, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I sit on row B in the Glwadys Street directly behind that clown Howard. He constantly argues with the crowd. I would take any goalkeeper in the league ahead of him. The man is a disgrace. He should be shipped off to the MLS with immediate effect. Been a reasonable keeper over the years now a complete liability. 7 goals conceded in the last 2 home games. Embarrassing.

  8. James Parkins

    December 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Howard has been consistently poor for 18 month’s.

    How anyone can defend this jester is beyond me.
    Whoever plays in the back four needs a goalkeeper that it can trust, Stones, Mori, Jagielka, whoever plays there, can they seriously say they trust this man behind them?
    Do they ever know what he’s going to do next?

    Howard has seen us struggle endlessly at defending setpieces and corners but the man remains rooted to his goal -line, never taking any pressure off the defence.

  9. David Kurtz

    December 30, 2015 at 9:52 am

    The only thing farcical is this article. If you look at Howard’s so-called decline you’ll see a remarkable coincidence…the entire backline has suffered injury after injury since August 2014. The startin back four of Jagielka, Coleman, Baines & Stones has played few games together and the subs have been teenagers and newbies such as Funes Mori. Since the author didn’t really look past his prodigious index finger to point blame for 27 goals this season, it’s probably best you stop publishing this drivel. If World Soccer Talk is publishing random opinions with little research or analysis, it’s just a glorified forum. But Matt Jones is fantastic at whining and moaning…two whole articles whining about Howard with not a thought as to why the defense is leaking other than “It’s Tim Howard’s fault”. This belongs as a post in a pathetic self-hating Toffeeweb forum not as an article on this site…there’s no article in this article.

    • Nomad

      January 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Is this the same David Kurtz aka the Birdman?

  10. Dave

    December 30, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Is this the same Matt from toffee tv?

    Always on point mate, perfectly written article and hit the nail on the head as always.

    • Christopher Harris

      December 30, 2015 at 8:53 am

      Yes. It’s the same Matt Jones.

      For those who aren’t familiar with Toffee TV, their videos are at https://www.youtube.com/EFCTV1

  11. James Parkins

    December 30, 2015 at 4:21 am

    The most infuriating thing about the whole situation is Martinez’s reluctance to give Robles the run in the team that his form at the start of 2015 deserved, he kept three clean sheets on the spin against Liverpool, Crystal Palace and West Brom and was then instantly dropped.

    What is lost on some people is Tim Howard has never been a truly great keeper.
    Yes, he’s always been a very good shot-stopper but in terms of his overall command of his area, being brave and being a leader he’s never been all that.
    If he was, then Alex Ferguson wouldn’t have allowed him to leave Manchester United so soon.

    Martinez should drop Howard for Robles against Spurs this Sunday, then if he has no faith in Robles, I suggest he uses the upcoming January transfer window to find a replacement that will go straight into the team.

    What is obvious is this circus cannot be allowed to go on much longer.

  12. brn442

    December 30, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Ah Matt. This has been a stone in your boot for a white. Well written. It’s hard to believe Howard at 36, is past it. Perhaps he’s gotten complacent. As with Hart and Mignolet, a sit on the bench may sharpen him up. Either way, Martinez needs to bring in a serious challenger.

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