But the one area that seems to have passed under the radar is that of goalkeeper. This may be because almost all of us are quite secure in our beliefs that Tim Howard is a superior keeper and will perform a very safe duty, but what if something unthinkable happens? What if Howard gets injured? Next in line is Iain Turner.
David Moyes discovered young Iain Turner playing for lowly Scotish side Stirling Albion. He must have made quite an impression on our manager because Moyes brought Turner to Bellefield for a trial. The young stopper did enough during this trial to convince Moyes to pay a nominal fee to Stirling for his permanent services.
Turner officially became an Everton player four years ago. He was declared 'one for the future' by Moyes (although two years later Moyes was to claim the same of John Ruddy). Turner was to be given time to mature while providing back-up to the reliable-but-aging Nigel Martyn and part-time clown Dickie Wright.
At the end of the 2004 season, Turner was sent out to conference side Chester City for a loan spell. It was a resonably successful experince at the bottom of English football for Turner. He played 12 games, conceded 12 goals but Chester won 9 of those games and returned back to the Football League.
The following year Turner again found himself out on a loan, this time at League One outfit Doncaster Rovers. 8 games for Doncaster saw Turner concede 14 goals with only 3 victories. It was a tougher loan spell at a higher level of football.
The 05-06 season saw Turner finally make a small step towards his long-term goal (being No 1 for Everton). First, at the end of 2005, he had a short loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers that only lasted a month and Turner only played 4 games for the League Two side, conceding 4 goals. Wycombe were undefeated with Turner in goal, winning two of those games.
He quickly returned to Everton and just over two months later Turner found himself making his Everton debut under quite frankly bizarre circumstances. The game was an FA Cup tie against Chelsea, probably not the game Moyes would have picked to blood the youngster but, with Martyn injured, Turner found himself on the bench, or so he thought.
Dickie Wright was supposed to keep goal that game. Dickie, being the type of guy who falls out of lofts, decided to warm up in a goal, which had a sign telling him not to use this goal. Not only did Dickie decide to ignore the sign's warning, he somehow managed to fall on the sign (????) and injured himself just minutes before kick-off. Leaving a rather annoyed Moyes to tell Turner to get ready, son.
Unfortunately for Turner, this was not a good day to be Everton's keeper. Chelsea were just too strong for Everton, Weir and Ferrari were overrun leaving their inexperienced keeper exposed all too often. Chelsea eventually eased to a 4-1 victory but Turner largely escaped the critism.
Three days later Turner was given a chance to really impress. A very winnable home game against Blackburn. Martyn was still injured, Dickie was still recovering from his safety sign mishap. And for nine minutes everything went the way Turner would have hoped. Then in what can only be described as an act of youthful inexperience Turner raced out of his area and handled the ball, Dickie himself would be proud of that one. Turner was sent off replaced by an even younger keeper John Ruddy. Clearly Turner went into that game hoping to impress Moyes and one young keeper certainly did his reputation no harm, unfortunately for Turner it was Ruddy who kept a clean sheet and after Beattie scored the winner the points were Evertons. After conceding four on his debut, this 9 minute cameo must have hurt Turner's confidence.
Still all was not lost for Turner. A couple of months later Turner got another surprise first-team appearance when he replaced Dickie for most of the second half in a victory against Boro. Then the following game Turner found himself starting against West Brom who took a two goal lead before Anichebe and Ferguson rescued a point.
Which brings us to last season. It started well for Turner as he was handed a starting role in the 4-0 demolition of Luton. Then a month later he was sent out on-loan to Championship side Crystal Palace (maybe as a thank you for AJ?), it was a confident spell for Turner who played 5 times, in fact he only conceded 1 goal in 4 games before being injured against Colchester in the 5th. Moyes decided to bring Turner home for better medical care.
It took two months for Turner to recover and again Moyes decided a loan spell would prove beneficial, this time Championship side Sheff Wed were Turner's destination. Turner was a revelation at Sheff Wed. When he joined they were an also-ran Championship side but with Turner in goal they soon became a play-off chasing side. Turner played 11 games for Sheff Wed, he conceded 11 goals but Sheff Wed were unbeaten and won 8 of those games. Turner's hard work was rewarded by being named in the Championship team of the month and when Tim Howard was not allowed to play against his employers, Man Utd, Moyes rewarded Turner by recalling him ahead of Dickie.
After so much confidence-building success at Sheff Wed, the home game against Man Utd was a dream tie for Turner to finally impress in an Everton shirt. The game started wonderfully, Everton were two goals up, Turner was composed and another famous victory was on the horizon. Then Turner hit the self-destruct button. In the 61st minute Turner dropped a monumental clanger. He confidently collected an easy unchallenged corner only to drop it onto the feet of O'Shea who simply prodded it home.
That one mistake changed the entire game. All of a sudden, the Everton side lost all confidence and the Man Utd players seemed to sense it. Turner in particular seemed to crumble. First Neville put past his own keeper to level the game and then Turner for reasons only known to himself handed Man Utd the lead by launching the ball at an under pressure Hibbert, who paniced and passed to Wayne Rooney (Tony must have forgotten for a split second Wayne's £20 milion transfer). By the time Chris Eagles won the one-on-one battle with Turner for the 4th goal, Turner's confidence must have been as low as the Everton fans cheering.
So just to recap, despite successful loan spells at lower league sides, Turner's Everton record stands at 6 games played, 12 goals conceded, one sending off and one legendary clanger. Which brings us to the upcoming season. Let's say Everton face a tricky Euro tie with Howard injured, how safe are we going to feel with Turner in goal? Turner can no longer be described as a youngster, he's 23 now and even though keepers peak later he should now be competant enough to deputise for Howard.
It's not that I doubt his ability, his loan at Sheff Wed showed how good he can be, given games. The question I have over Turner is how well he handles under pressure. Being a back-up keeper is a tough gig, you spend most of your time on the bench and when finally given a chance you have to make an instant impression. This is where Turner seems to crumble. Given 10 games I would back Turner to prove himself but thrown in the deep end for a tricky away Euro game I fear Turner is a big concern.
Given that Turner is unlikely to get a long run in the Everton side to get the confidence he needs. I believe it would be better for Moyes to bring in a more experienced keeper for emergencies and tricky Euro ties.
Turner faces a difficult Everton career: first he's got to displace the very safe Tim Howard; then he's got to prove himself, all the time hoping Ruddy doesn't overtake him. I remain hopeful that Turner's time will come... I just do not want to be sitting nervously fearing the worst while Turner attempts to fend off European opposition.
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1 Posted 23/07/2007 at 01:43:38
Turner has the right build for a goalkeeper, he’s obviously impressing behind the scenes and his temperament - the Man U game aside - seems sound.
For the amount of money Everton (by the looks of it) have to spend, throwing £4-5m on a bench player wouldn’t be wise and, not only could that money be spent elsewhere, it’d show a lack of faith in Turner and Ruddy who have both shown in fits and spurts that they don’t look out of place in the Everton side. Granted, neither are the finished article, but i’d rather have any of them on the bench ahead of Dickie and i’d rather have Turner deputising and having the faith of his manager near the first team rather than never getting a chance to impress.
2 Posted 23/07/2007 at 06:29:39
3 Posted 23/07/2007 at 08:26:24
4 Posted 23/07/2007 at 11:04:34
My memory of the ManU game was more the confident closing down and somthering of Rooney than the clanger.
All ’keepers have had a clanger or 3.
5 Posted 23/07/2007 at 12:29:39
6 Posted 23/07/2007 at 13:03:08
Particularly worrying is that with goalkeepers these things can become self-fulfilling prophecies, if doubts are voiced over a goalkeeper, then they lose confidence and start making mistakes. Turner’s confidence will already be fragile after that Man Utd mistake and as fans its part of our job to help him by showing confidence in him. If the fans doubt him he’ll doubt himself and won’t fulfil his potential.
7 Posted 23/07/2007 at 13:33:51
8 Posted 23/07/2007 at 14:10:47
Iain Turner however, doesn’t fill me with confidence when he plays and I doubt the other players feel any different. I read a match report from the Northern Ireland game which highlighted a moment when he almost gifted them a goal by failing to claim a cross after coming for the ball, he’s probably a very good shot stopper but needs to learn how to command his area better.
9 Posted 23/07/2007 at 13:43:42
10 Posted 23/07/2007 at 14:21:20
If Lescott, Stubbs, Yobo and co don’t have confidence in Turner it will show in their performances.
Thats what worries me most about a tricky Euro game with Turner in goal.
11 Posted 23/07/2007 at 20:16:27
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