The goal conceded to Hull felt like a turning point. That point when Tim Howard's biggest defenders – and I have been one of them – had to stop pointing to the back line or injuries or defensive mistakes, and admit that Howard's goalkeeping has become a liability for Everton this season.

Here in New York City, I could only follow the weekday match on ESPN GameCast due to work. When I read all the howling online about the goal, I thought, "How bad could it have been?" When I watched the replay later, I said, "Oh Wow".

The goal was brutal. A Premier League keeper should not concede from that angle, unless it's from a miracle strike that curls around and over him and back into the upper far corner of the net. But lower near corner from that angle, that is really, really bad. Even an American can see that.

But this article is not about Howard, it is about us American Evertonians. We are in pain right now. We know Howard was awful on that goal. We know he has not been sharp all season. Sometimes I know it seems like we defend him longer than our Blue brothers and sisters on Merseyside do. But beneath all that, we are deep in agony when Howard performs poorly.

For an American football fan, there is nothing worse than seeing our hero, playing for our beloved club with all our proud history, in the best league in the world, letting the club down. We are so proud of Howard, for showing everyone that an American can succeed at the world's game on the highest level, for doing it for Everton, for making American Evertonians proud. When he fails, it hurts us all the worse.

When Howard lets Everton down, we feel like *we* are letting Everton down. Like Everton would be better off without an American on the club. Like we are hurting Everton instead of helping Everton. It feels awful.

We want Everton to succeed. We love it when an American can contribute to that. But we don't want an American to hurt the team. That is the worst.

So please, dear Blues, don't be too harsh on us American Evertonians when we perhaps make too many excuses for Howard. On the inside, we are in great pain.

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Reader Comments (38)

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Ray Robinson
1 Posted 04/12/2014 at 22:33:08
I suspect that Howard may not be playing at the weekend. He looked injured in the second half but not to the extent that he is absolved from blame for the Hull goal.

Overall, Howard has been a great servant to Everton over the years, so don't beat yourselves up too much American Evertonians!

Tony Onslow
2 Posted 04/12/2014 at 22:21:07
Do be too hard on yourself, Geoff; we home-based Blues are proud to have you NYC boys in our corner. Tim Howard has played some great games and Landon Donovan, along with Joe-Max always did their best for us. Once a blue, always a blue.

My son and two grandsons are, at this moment, in the Big Apple and are looking forward to meeting you all next Saturday at Denny's in Greenwich Village.

Michael Penley
3 Posted 04/12/2014 at 22:39:57
Always interesting to hear the views of American Blues.

I'm a bit surprised myself over the sudden outrage over Howard. The goal conceded against Hull didn't really change my mind about him, I don't think he's a terrible keeper but I've thought for a while that compared with other game-saving goalies he's limited and we probably should have better if we have ambitions for top 4.

There's good reasons for the outburst – we're angry and Howard is an easy target, but really the whole team and staff is to blame. The only people NOT to blame are the fans, wherever in the world they may be. COYB

Terry White
4 Posted 05/12/2014 at 00:47:54
Tony, #2, don't forget Brian McBride also.
John Daley
5 Posted 05/12/2014 at 01:22:24
"Howard is an easy target"

I don't think that's the case at all. He's coming in for criticism because he's been utterly crap. Simple as that really.

A line from Martinez's press conference inadvertently highlighted a major problem the team are currently struggling to cope with:

"When......the opposition have just one shot on target and get something out of the game, it's frustrating"

Fucking right it is.

Amplify that frustration a thousand fold for those players on the pitch, having to try and perform in front of a keeper who, it seems, is becoming increasingly incorporeal.

No wonder it's panic stations at the back when they know one slip is almost inevitably going to lead to a goal.

Howard is currently the weakest keeper in the league. Prior to the Spurs game he had the second worst shots to goals ratio out of every stopper:

"Howard has faced 43 shots in the league this season and saved 24 - a ratio of 56 per cent. That's the second worst record in the league ahead of Asmir Begovic (52%)."

Since that article appeared he has screwed up a further three times leading to three more goals.

Pretty alarming when you take into account that being a fairly decent shot stopper was all he ever really had going for him.

He's always been indecisive, weak from set pieces, seemingly oblivious to when a long range shot is on, slow to get across his line, prone to bizarrely standing behind the line, starts shoving, squealing and losing his shit like that little monkey spy from Raiders of the Lost Ark when someone has the temerity to stand directly in front of him from a dead ball, does that whole 'arms spread wide while falling backwards in slow motion' move like someone's pulled his chair out from under him when in one on one situations, and still hasn't learnt how to give a shout out to his defenders. Seriously, that walking tree thing in Guardians Of The Galaxy had greater communication skills than good old Tim. At least that big barky bastard knew 3 words ('I am Groot'). Howard can't even manage to say 'Mine'.

If the ability to get his body in front of a shot has scarpered then he's pretty much a waste of space. He's like Captain America without a shield. Jordan without the jugs. Bob Carolgees sans Spit The Dog.

Maybe the whole 'Secretary of Defence' shite in the summer (arising from 16 saves: 15 of which even 'Hatch' would have got a hand to in Escape to Victory) served to make him more complacent? Taking a 12 month sabbatical from international football certainly smacks of someone not overly concerned about the possibility of losing their place long term.

At Everton he's certainly never been under any pressure or faced any real competition for his place. Unless you consider Carlos 'can you believe I made a career out of this shit' Nash nodding at you from the bench as being nerve wracking?

It's a shame as I thought last season was his best in a blue shirt (well, a wank yellow shirt that looks like something they wore in 'The Running Man, but you know what I mean). Maybe he felt he had to prove himself to a new manager, maybe he considered Robles to be a legitimate threat before he got a good look at him up close, or maybe he just hit a once in a lifetime vein of form that could never last? I don't know but, whatever the reason, the difference in his game between last season and this is glaring and getting more worrying by the week.

Mike Price
6 Posted 05/12/2014 at 03:31:04
John (#5),

I agree with all you say but I've always thought he was a liability. Last season he was reasonable and he got a new contract out of it, maybe that, and the World Cup place in Brazil focused his mind.

He is undermining everything right now; he turned the tide in the Spurs game and cost us 2 points against Hull, that's potentially 5 points in the last few days down to him. He's made countless other point-costing mistakes this season too, the Palace game being the prime example.
He's useless and I blame Brad Friedel for not doing more to stop him getting in!

Will Firstbrook
7 Posted 05/12/2014 at 03:37:51
Don't look now but I think the arse of the Titanic is visible. No doubt Tim is suffering and it is difficult to know whether this is just a bad patch (no, not his beard) or whether the last lifeboat just sailed away.

He has always been a decent shot-stopper (a skill he admirably put on display against Wolfsburg) but as John thoroughly itemized above, has some major weaknesses in his game. Unfortunately those weaknesses seem to be getting more and more prevalent with each passing game.

Peter Z Jones
8 Posted 05/12/2014 at 03:57:50
Hahaha — the amazing John Daley!
Darren Hind
9 Posted 05/12/2014 at 03:46:40
I have this re-occurring nightmare.

I've done something wrong (I don't know what it is ) but I find myself in the Dock, I'm confident of getting off until the guy representing me leans across and whispers "Shit, Daley's representing the prosecution."

Very funny post, JD!

Geoffrey Caveney
10 Posted 05/12/2014 at 04:33:50
Thanks Ray, Tony, Michael and Terry for the kind words of support.

And thanks John for the humorous take on things. Everything but a Doctor Who reference in there.

Peter Z Jones
11 Posted 05/12/2014 at 04:37:02
This thread is perfect for me. I'm American and I stereotypically love statistics. Given what Mr Daley has said, I figured I'd follow through with the current save percentages for each team so far.

Team Save Percentage

Swansea — 77% (Congrats Lukasz Fabianski)
Chelsea — 74%
Southampton, West Ham — 73%
Aston Villa — 72%
Man City — 71%
West Brom — 70%
Man Utd — 69%
Hull, Leicester, Sunderland — 68%
Spurs, QPR, Burnley, Liverpool — 67%
Arsenal — 66%
Newcastle — 65%
Palace — 60%
Everton — 57%
Stoke — 51%

So yes, you read that right. Julian Speroni, Tim Howard, and unbelievably Asmir Begovic have been BY FAR the 3 worst keepers this season.

There is absolutely no way anyone can say Joel Robles would do any worse, regardless of how little confidence he may inspire. Howard needs to be dropped. His play on the field says it. The numbers scream it. Simple as that.

Mick Wrende
12 Posted 05/12/2014 at 07:22:44
All players lose form from time to time so you have to blame Martinez for not having a decent backup. Howard should have been dropped long ago but Robles is useless as well. There are goalies in Leagues 1 and 2 better than him.

The other problem with Howard is that his arse is getting bigger and bigger -–why is that? Is it because he is sitting on it every time they opposition shoot.

Eric Myles
13 Posted 05/12/2014 at 07:53:54
"When... the opposition have just one shot on target and get something out of the game, it's frustrating."

What is even more frustrating is our back four and goalie titting about playing 'piggy in the middle' and not playing the ball forward so our own players can have a shot at goal.

Maybe if that problem was sorted and we scored a few goals some individual errors might not be so glaring.

Eric Myles
14 Posted 05/12/2014 at 08:08:23
Of course it was all Howard's fault that the ball was needlessly lost in midfield that put Hull's player in a one-on-one position with him. He shouldn't expect the other players on the field to do their job without making mistakes should he?

It's not just Howard that is guilty of these mistakes, it's endemic among the whole team.

Andrew Ellams
15 Posted 05/12/2014 at 09:37:49
Howard is by no means the only player taking stick this season. Just look back at the criticism for Distin, Jagielka, Osman, Barry, McGeady and Lukaku over the past 4 months.

But that said, for me, Howard needs to be the first one out the door. And before anybody asks "Who is better?" the answer is "Quite a few"

Alan McGuffog
16 Posted 05/12/2014 at 10:05:44
Well, we have been burning effigies of Ossie and Hibbert for the last ten years so now a new whipping boy is needed.
Even those with the slightest knowledge of football will know that the more a player sees of the ball the greater are the odds of that player making an error. Howard sees far more of the ball than say, Lukaku, as we knock the ball about, freely, in our own half. Is there any other side that can have a corner and with a couple of passes have the ball back in our own box?

Yeah, let’s blame Howard for conceding a goal to a guy who was a few yards out. Let’s forget that we don’t appear to have one player who can thread a decent pass in front of the strikers.

Mike Galley
17 Posted 05/12/2014 at 10:51:06
John (#5)

Was that attempt to break the ToffeeWeb record for the most film references in a single post????? Very funny anyway!

Phil Walling
18 Posted 05/12/2014 at 12:10:27
When Tim announced he was having a year off, I thought he was referring to his International career rather than his Premier League duties.

Often this season he 'has seemed somewhere else' and the general standard of his keeping has fallen both below his own high standards and those demanded at top division level.

Anyone who has seen the clown Martinez chose to understudy him knows that Tim's job is in no danger and that he will just have to play through this nightmarish spell. Let's all hope he makes it!

Dave Lynch
19 Posted 05/12/2014 at 12:10:40
He was lauded in the good old US of A for that game in the World Cup (can't remember the opposition) but from what I remember of it he could have thrown his cap on 95% of those efforts on goal.

More down to poor finishing than brilliant keeping, you may feel you're in "great pain" but try sitting there in the freezing cold, watching him drop bollock after bollock – and don't get me started on the tactics or the managers soundbites.

Tim is only a piece of the problem in a fucked up jigsaw...

Colin Williams
20 Posted 05/12/2014 at 13:31:23
Now people are taking notice of how absolute piss-poor Howard is and always has been! Why does it take so long to notice such poor performances?

Howard is a major issue! but there are five or six other players who are just as bad – causing problems every time they cross the white line. (We all know who they are!) These players are well below the required standard for the Premier League, never mind top players. And, until they are moved out, progression will keep slowing down and we’ll end up back where we started with OFM.

Tony Marsh
21 Posted 05/12/2014 at 14:29:54
Howard is costing us too many points as the years go rolling on. This season must be his last. We are offering the opposition a route back in to the game every time Tim has a decision to make. Howard has never been totally reliable but now age is starting to be a factor – it's time to let him go.
Christine Foster
22 Posted 05/12/2014 at 14:22:46
Stats, lies and video tape... Eric Myles, I think you're closer to the truth than many here who wish to put the hatchet into Tim Howard.

Yes, he should not have been beaten at the near post, cardinal sin for any keeper. It was poor keeping, no argument. But the central defence this season has been utterly dreadful, leaving the keeper exposed so many times. No matter how good a keeper, if there are continuous failings in front of him, his stats will suffer.

Our defense in entirety has been crap this season. Responsibility for that is the manager and the players. The opposition have got it sussed, press high on the defense when they have the ball and the will make passing errors. They are not good enough to play the way the manager wants. That's obvious. It's also dreadful to watch inept performances of sideways and backwards passing, no incisive thrust, no responsibility taken.

Midfield has no penetration, Barkley is like a headless chicken, Barry is dreadful, arrives too late for his own funeral, Baines has left the building, Distin has lost his pace, now a weakness against class forwards, Pienaar gone troppo, every ball to Lukaku is behind him, it's tactics that make good players look bad, and we haven't got too many good ones to start with.

So, don't lump all the blame on Howard; whilst some is deserved, look elsewhere for the real problem. We are not playing to our players' strengths, but slavishly following instruction even when it's not working.

Dave Lynch
23 Posted 05/12/2014 at 15:03:10
Which is why I said Christine.

"Tim is only a piece of the problem in a fucked up jigsaw".

Milos Milenkovic
24 Posted 05/12/2014 at 15:10:29
He was not responsible for that goal. It was one on one situation and if you have ever entered the pitch you would know that any quality player would score in that situation. He could have cover his angle and player would score in the opposite. You can't blame keeper when somebody score from 5 yards out. Oh, sorry you can, it's popular to slag of Howard so why not and of course it is normal not to mention all great saves he made, because he is keeper and that is his job.

Howard for many years has been absolutely superb for us and one of the best in the world. To say that he is costing us points is total nonsense if you compare how many points he saved for us.

As for the statistics can you tell us, about European League? Or that doesn't count? Surely you can find or that is shit competition so it's not valid.

Winston Williamson
25 Posted 05/12/2014 at 16:54:20
I remember in WiganÂ’s relegation year - every time I watched them play, which was quite often, they gave away daft goals due to the defenders being pressed into mistakes.

History (in that sense) is repeating itself.

Mick Wrende
26 Posted 05/12/2014 at 17:12:32
Milos, how come you are the only person who didnÂ’t think Howard should have saved that goal! Every keeper should cover the near post. My granny could have thrown her knickers on it and stopped it.

Howard is getting fatter, looks unfit with his big arse, wears a ridiculous costume and his brain is failing judging by the fatuous ritual he goes through at the start of the second half. The sooner Beckham takes him the better.

Mike Gaynes
27 Posted 05/12/2014 at 18:43:18
Sorry, Peter Z and John, but that stat is bollocks, unless you really think Fumbles Fabianski is the best keeper in the Prem. Christine has it right... that number doesn't tell you WHERE the opposition is shooting from. The biggest difference between Swansea and Everton on that chart is that Swansea has been brilliant at preventing shots in close to goal and we haven't. Swansea also rarely gives up the ball in midfield to create opposition counterattacks like we have in the past two games.

And no, Howard wasn't at fault for either of the Spurs goals. Anybody expecting a keeper to grab and hold a deflected shot at full stretch instead of parrying is asking too much.

However, sorry, Milos, but I disagree with you too. Getting beat low at the near post is simply inexcusable. You give up the far corner and make the striker shoot across you. A keeper I played with years ago, Jim Standen (longtime Hammer), used to actually plant his foot at the near post and push off to the far side in that situation. He figured if the guy went high, so be it, but he would not be beaten low. Howard had to seal the near post and didn't, simple as that.

Daniel A Johnson
28 Posted 05/12/2014 at 19:16:37
These stats indicate that maybe when teams get a chance against us it's clean through on goal and served on a silver platter (a dead cert goal even).

Probably because of the chuckle brothers "to me-to you" tikka takka football we play right in front of our own fecking 18-yard box.

The cult of Martinez has been found out... but hey, let Ahab have his whale.

Peter Z Jones
29 Posted 05/12/2014 at 19:22:15
Mike. Really though? So every goal is a point-blank one-on-one opportunity?

The funny thing is that the statistics are tearing apart the myth that Howard is actually a good shot stopper, which in previous years was his only redeeming quality.

He's always read the game like shit. Never comes off his line. Sets up his walls incorrectly. Guesses in one-on-ones before a ball is kicked. Poor distribution... I could go on.

Most of his howlers this season don't have anything to do with his save percentage! Him coming his line for no reason against Palace to gift that penalty? How about failing to catch the easiest floating ball across his area in the same game to gift another? How about coming outside of your box and touching the ball as the last man against Chelsea, only to be saved by the linesman?

My post doesn't say that Tim Howard is the ONLY player that has been crap this season. It says that he should dropped. I said the same thing about Jagielka earlier in the season when he was the one costing us the most points.

I've criticized Martinez's team selection and tactics a number of times even though I really like the guy. What I can't stand is when players play like shit for the umpteenth game in a row and someone else isn't given a chance. Players looking over their shoulder don't become complacent like quite a few members of our squad have.

Phil Walling
30 Posted 05/12/2014 at 19:07:18
Stats, don't ya love 'em! On possession, aren't we the third or fourth most retentive team in the Prem but sadly only eleventh in the table?

Roberto was going on this morning about all the extra points we should have because our play merited it but I don't reckon the league will see it is way, do you?

Looking back at Peter Z's figures, and in anticipation of Robles eventually coming in, I wondered if 'wild punches' count as saves. If so, he'll top that goalie league by a mile in no time!

Patrick Murphy
31 Posted 05/12/2014 at 19:58:39
Anal retentive team I think you meant Phil :)
Mike Gaynes
32 Posted 05/12/2014 at 19:50:43
Wow, Peter Z, you really do have a case on. I wasn't rubbishing your opinion, just your statistics, but come off it. Howard's failings are real, but do you really have to make up extra ones? Yeah, he had a lousy day against Palace, but the pen was because he didn't plan to come off his line at all, but he and Stones got their signals crossed, which can happen when you're playing with 20-year-olds. Give me ONE example of a goal given up because he "set up his wall incorrectly"... bet you can't. And, please, he did NOT handle (it was against Sunderland, not Chelsea) out of his area... replay proved he pinned the ball down with his chest (unconventional, but effective) and the linesman got it exactly right.

As to whether we need a better keeper, yeah, I'm fine with that. Who? Roberto's been watching Robles in practice and reserve games for two years now, which you and I have not. If he thought Robles was ready to supplant Howard, he'd have changed keepers by now... lots of other managers have this year, including Special One. Funny how in all these years of blunders and incompetence, in over 500 appearances for club and country only one manager (SAF)has ever dropped Howard. One. He must have played for a lot of fools, eh?

And I gotta tell you I get really tired of speculation about players playing badly because nobody's "pushing" them. Every footballer wants to win the game and please the supporters, and I haven't seen any signs of lack of motivation from Everton, only lack of focus and execution. In my opinion, Howard's problem isn't disinterest, or laziness, or boredom. It's that at age 35, he's lost some of the freakish athleticism that formerly compensated for his flaws.

Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 05/12/2014 at 20:40:01
Phil Walling (18), I agree that Robles, on past appearances, doesnÂ’t inspire confidence but how many more mistakes does Howard have to make before Robles is given a go?

By the way, HowardÂ’s nightmarish spell started in August so when is it going to end?

Mike Childs
34 Posted 05/12/2014 at 22:30:04
Three years ago against Norwich, last free kick of the game taken from just inside our half. Timmy stays anchored to his line instead of catching it and I forget his name but their big center forward headed it in for the Norwich victory.

This American has wanted him out ever since. It's time for Robles until we get someone better or Joel proves himself.

Eric Myles
35 Posted 06/12/2014 at 07:32:17
Mike #32 "Give me ONE example of a goal given up because he "set up his wall incorrectly"... bet you can't."

9 November 2014, Sunderland away.

Steve Griffin
36 Posted 06/12/2014 at 14:06:53
Spot on article, Geoffrey. Howard's struggles have been especially strange for me to grasp as this is my first following Everton and it is because of Tim. Following the World Cup and learning of NBC's full coverage of the Premier League, I wanted to follow more closely.

Everton felt like the natural choice when I was looking for a team to follow because of Howard, as I couldn't see myself rooting against him. I was confused to see such animosity towards him when the season first began, but it was certainly a rough start. After the late goals given up against Leicester City and Arsenal and the six goal debacle against Chelsea, I kept finding myself saying "not much he could do about that one" or blaming the defense.

However, I now find myself screaming "FFS, Howard" more often than defending him after goals like this Hull City one and the Crystal Palace game.

Geoffrey Caveney
37 Posted 07/12/2014 at 00:29:12
Thank you Steve Griffin, I have had pretty much the same reaction to things as you have. Of course my loyalty is to Everton, not to any one player, no matter how much I may love him. I hope you feel that way too.

Mike Gaynes, I agree with your post (27). The two Spurs goals I blame primarily on the defense, although I do wish Howard could bail them out sometimes. But re (32), Howard did handle the ball outside his area vs. Chelsea. It was around the 8-12th minute, early but of course we were already down 2-0. Frankly I thought the officials just had mercy on him because we were getting destroyed so badly already.

Peter Jones
38 Posted 08/12/2014 at 20:24:19
YouÂ’re all out of your minds. ItÂ’s a team game. And any goalkeeper will look like shite when his defence and midfield put him in a crap situation time and again.

The blame game is a shame game. Stop the Tim Howard hetz. ItÂ’s pathetic.


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