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Howard's cautious optimism


'Maybe this could be our year'

Tim Howard believes that finishing in the top four is a "difficult but viable" proposition for Everton this based on their impressive start to the season.

The American is cautiously optimistic about the Blues' chances of repeating their feat of 2005 when they surprised the Premier League by snagging a Champions League qualifying spot.

"The Champions League is a real, viable option for us. Very difficult, but it is viable," he told Sky Sports News.

"We talk about it, we achieved it a few years ago and we have the ability on form to do it. But it is a long way off to May.

Howard is impressed with the team that David Moyes has been able to assemble on a sell-to-buy budget in recent seasons.

"This is my seventh season. I think it is the best squad we have had, in terms of quality from top to bottom.

"You'd have to ask the manager his opinion on that but I get the feeling from being around the guys in training and in matches that it is the most talented squad we have had.

"Does that give us the best chance? Maybe, because our grit and determination is always there and that is an Everton trait. Maybe this could be our year."

Of course, the biggest fear for Evertonians is the re-opening of the transfer window in January where covetous rivals could try and pry Everton's best players away from Goodison Park.

"The one thing I hang my hat on is that our manager will dig his heels in," Howard said, "and if you are going to pluck our best players you will have to pay a high price.

"He has also shown that if he gets the right money in the transfer window from those sales that he buys very well, but we do not want to lose Marouane Fellaini or Leighton Baines or any of our top players."

Quotes or other material sourced from Sporting Life

Reader Comments

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Jimmy Scales
704 Posted 04/10/2012 at 00:12:05
Pardon the pun but these next two games are massive. If we are to realistically challenge for top six/four we should be dispatching with Wigan and QPR and bringing home six points. Then again, as we are repeatedly reminded, "there are no easy games in the Premier League".
John Turner
709 Posted 04/10/2012 at 02:41:45
Timmy, keep up the shot stopping but try and stop looking like a cat on hot bricks everytime the other team gets a corner!
Paul Ferry
710 Posted 04/10/2012 at 02:39:24
If we get a more consistent goalie top-5-ish yeah. Actually, our 1st okay 2nd priority in the next window ought to be a goalie who might not just warm benches but be good enough to fill flapping 2/3 aint bad Timmy's boots.

Basic stuff, cover for LB, no; sharpest thorn in our side this minute, an unchallenged comfy keeper. How ironic, onwards and upwards say our 1st or 2nd weakest link. It's like say Neville being trotted out week-in and week-out.

Okay, you Timmy are a weak link in our team. Already, in this brill season you have cost us – 2/3 is appalling, command your area FFS. YOU are not a top-4 keeper. I see a future, not too far away, where my beloved EFC will be a Chumps League breed, but you will not at that point e our 1st pick place safe goalie.

Tony J Williams
738 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:04:28
My eyes and brain hurts after reading that Paul, is there an encryption key on the interweb somewhere?
James Martin
740 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:10:25
Sorry Paul was it not Howard saving from Kagawa against Man U in the last minute? That's two points saved there. What about the Swansea game, that could have turned sour if it hadn't of been for an inspired Howard performance. Yes, he cost us in the Newcastle game (although blame must be shared around the back three for that) and he flapped at a cross against Sotuhampton which didn't (fortunately cost us anything). In my book he's saved more points than he's lost this season. All keepers make mistakes, as ever though Moyes's bargain basement signings or homegrown players have to be perfect every week to even garner the slightest bit of credit whilst our attacking stars can perform however they want without anyone questioning them. Fellaini's missed two open goals this season, one when it was nil nil v West Brom, and he didn't pick up their guy at the corner from which they scored, he also farted out of his tackle on the edge of the box against Leeds after being caught out of position. Surely then he must be judged to the same ridiculous standards that Howard is, or Osman who gave away that one ball this season, or Neville who hasn't really done anything wrong at all. Then I remember that a lot of people on here only see what they want to see in the matches and not what actually happens.
Bob Willis
741 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:30:11
Totally agree with Paul 710. It's certainly time we had another 'Nev'

Some of the goals he has let in are deplorable and his performances surely cannot instill confidence in the defence.

Moyes is no fool and will know this.

Andrew Ellams
743 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:41:04
Tim has made some outstanding saves since he has been with us. The one with his leg from Paul Scholes in the 3-3 draw with Man U a couple of years ago is right up there with the Banks save from Pele.

But, at the same time he makes too many unforced errors too, the one at Blackburn last season being right up amongst the worst.

I added to a thread earlier in the week to say that he probably is the best we could afford right now, but there is no harm in chasing Jack Butland again next summer.

Ken Crowther
744 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:42:26
James Martin #740

The only person who "cost us" in the Newcastle game was that crappy Assistant Referee who missed Vic's goal AND gave Felli offside.

Kev Johnson
745 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:51:39
Come on, Ken. Howard was at fault for both of Newastle's goals. Have another look at the match highlights if necessary.

Keepers have dodgy phases, and I think Howard may be in one now, but I don't see any reason to think he's declining. We need to review this at the end of the season, not after a handful of questionable displays. He's basically a good keeper.

Having said that, Mucha is not the back up we need. It would be sensible to get a bit of money by moving him on in January - doesn't his contract expire in the summer? - and investing (ha-ha) in someone to actually challenge TH.

Ken Crowther
747 Posted 04/10/2012 at 10:10:54
Kevan (from West Kent) #745 - see who pays attention?

The Newcastle game might not have been Timmy's finest hour; but having been a pretty rubbishy goalkeeper in my day (one game - and only one - on the hallowed turf of the Grand Old Lady, as a schoolboy, in 1957) I will defend the "star jump" with my dying breath. Watch Ba's movement, I was absolutely convinced that he was going to chip.

Kev Johnson
750 Posted 04/10/2012 at 10:24:44
You got me, Ken! You got me!

To be fair, I'd slightly revise my earlier comment. The Newcastle goals were not his "fault" as such - but I really think he could have done better with both of them. The first goal: it was a lazy dive and he got his angles wrong. (Ba shouldn't have been allowed to get in that position, which is down to others.) The second: he overcommitted to the star jump. I know the star jump works sometimes - and the fact that he looked like a fool is neither here nor there - but he didn't respond to the actual danger, he just went into "auto mode". Insufficient alertness, if you ask me. Wakey, wakey, Tim lad!

As well as that, his judgement on crosses is well dodgy at the moment. Of course, the Southampton goal wasn't just down to him but he didn't exactly cover himself in glory, did he? ("Shall I, shan't I?) Anyway, as I said, I think he's basically a good keeper and there's no need to panic about him right now.

Hats off to you for playing on the hallowed turf! That must have been brilliant. I'm dead jealous. No, really, I am. Closest I got to anything like that was playing at Melwood! Yeah, well the manager of our under-16s youth club side worked there and he organised a game against an LFC U-16s side. This was around 1976. We lost 2-0. I was centre forward... and I hardly got a kick!

Barry Rathbone
753 Posted 04/10/2012 at 10:37:27
Ken 747, not only did Ba shape to lift the ball he mis-hit it coming off the sole or studs of his boot.

Tim Howard was blameless, it's like saying a keeper should anticipate a deflection.

Anyone who's played could see it was a forwards lucky mistake resulting in a goal.

Danny Kewley
758 Posted 04/10/2012 at 10:42:31
Howard does some fantastic saves and some of his shot stopping is world class.
However some of his positional sense and technique on corners and crosses is woeful; As has been mentioned before this could be down to the fact that he has no serious threat or competition for his place and complacency has set in. On a positive note though he is a true Blue and if he gets wind of some of the criticism he is getting, hopefully he can up his game and put the extra effort in. I hope so because a lot of our play at the moment is awe inspiring and every great team deserves a great goalie!
Nick Entwistle
765 Posted 04/10/2012 at 11:16:53
Arsenal, Newcastle, Spurs, our competitors for 4th, are all playing in Europe this week. That's got to be in our favour. And Liverpool are too which doesn't bode well for their relegation scrap.
Kev Johnson
769 Posted 04/10/2012 at 11:23:19
Nick - stop it. I'm beginning to get all excited.

I'm thinking of a number... and it's not 4th. No, it's not lower. It's higher!

Paul David
771 Posted 04/10/2012 at 11:47:50
Why is everyone talking about Ba's chip like that was the only thing Howard did wrong in that game, he was as absolute joke for the first goal. By his own high standards Howard has declined dramatically over the past 18 months. He still pulls off top draw saves but now makes as many mistakes in 6 games as he would in a whole season a few years a go.
Jamie Barlow
778 Posted 04/10/2012 at 12:14:26
Spot on Barry.

I'd go as far to say that the first goal from Ba was miss hit too.

If you pause the footage of both goals just before he hits the ball, i'd say Howard did nothing wrong.

He either miss hit them both or they were very cleverly disguised finishes.

Andrew Ellams
780 Posted 04/10/2012 at 12:24:04
The standard of goalkeeping in the Premiership is not good to be honest. Cech and Reina seem to have lost their way, Man Utd and Arsenal are not even sure who their 1st choice actually is.

Tim Krul and Joe Hart both look like they are going to be worldbeaters, but neither are there yet.

Ernie Baywood
781 Posted 04/10/2012 at 12:22:55
Stuff like this is driving me mad. I just wish they'd have a media blackout.

We've had a top start, playing great stuff. And all I can think about is the derby.

We've got 2 away games next, they've got 2 at home fresh off smashing Norwich.

The natural pessimist in me sees this optimism dwindling. Hope I'm wrong and this very special test gets passed. 4 points from these away games and then completely outclass the shite. Will make my year.

Ken Crowther
783 Posted 04/10/2012 at 12:27:24
Andrew #780

"The standard of goalkeeping in the Premiership is not good..."...nonsense!

I would say that the standard of goalkeeping has never been higher! Perhaps one or two of the elder statesmen are looking a little less like clean-sheet-machines than was the case previously; but the season is only half-a-dozen games old.

Just as a matter of interest, I borrowed the DVD of the "Stanley Matthews" final recently (1953 - or was it '54 - Blackpool 4 Bolton 3) and I reckon the average Division 2 keeper of today would have saved six of those goals.

Alan Maher
784 Posted 04/10/2012 at 12:37:32
I think it's great the way lads on this thread only remember the mistakes Tim made rather than the games he has saved us in. Fair enough he is prone to an error or two but the vital saves he makes in games more than makes up for it. As James 740 has already pointed out he all but guaranteed three points against United and Swansea. To put this into perspective you'd have to say that Jelavic is poor every game he doesn't score as he gets at least one decent chance every game.
Peter Cummings
786 Posted 04/10/2012 at 12:42:40
I've ost count of the number of times I've posted about Howard's 'keeping and his constant failure to use his weight and height on set pieces and crosses.

After watching the City/Dortmund game yesterday, it reinforced my hope that we could one day find someone with that kind of quality... The performance of both keepers was outstanding to put it mildly. Joe Hart was simply magic and kept City in the cup on his own.

Not only does Howard concede 'soft' goals but, time and again, defenders have to bail him out. Sorry, Tim: not good enough.
Kev Johnson
787 Posted 04/10/2012 at 12:56:37
Ken & Co - check this out! Featuring the "reliable skills" of top goalie Stan Hartley...

Harry Enfield's Old Football Sketch

[a href="http://..." target="_blank"]Liverpool Echo[/a]

Andrew Ellams
790 Posted 04/10/2012 at 13:06:13
Alan, if you want to go back that far maybe.

But 25/30 years ago you had Southall, Jennings, Shilton, Parkes, Corrigan etc.

Do you really think that modern goalkeeping is up to that sort of standard. England can't even find 3 first choice keepers for their squad.

Wo would you currently consider outstanding in the Premiership, and who are the elder statesmen losing their way, bearing in mind the two I mentioned (Cech and Reina) are both only 30 and allegedly in the prime for a goalkeeper.

Ken Crowther
791 Posted 04/10/2012 at 13:10:22
Kev #787

Thanks, just like George Farm and whoever it was in the Bolton goal.

Drew O'Neall
793 Posted 04/10/2012 at 13:13:26
Kev 787

Uncanny, I was just doing my 'Finney on the wing' impersonation at 5-a-side last night for some of the lads (I'm such a laugh) and up it pops on Toffeeweb the next day..

Kev Johnson
795 Posted 04/10/2012 at 13:27:23
Ah, marvellous stuff! To top it all, it's always fun to see The Other Lot conceding 11 and losing in a heartbreaking fashion!

I tell you, Charles 'Charlie' Charles is a heck of a player...

Ste Traverse
796 Posted 04/10/2012 at 13:32:21
Let's go quietly about our business and leave the 'this could/is our year' to the deludes across the park.
Ken Crowther
802 Posted 04/10/2012 at 13:46:32
Kev #769

"'s not lower..higher..."

Now 3rd is a lower number than 4th; but it is also a higher position.

What we need is Martin Mason to arbitrate! He would argue that neither was correct; but that both were.

Kev Johnson
807 Posted 04/10/2012 at 14:12:44
I see your point, Ken. That was a bit of an OG from me (not the first nor the last, to be fair). I meant 3rd – which is a lower number but a higher position.

The thing is, if we finish 4th we have to qualify for the CL - and look what happened last time, we drew one of the best teams in Europe, Villarreal.

I've told DM it's got to be 3rd or he can forget about the usual end-of-season hamper. I think he's got the message...

Robin Cannon
889 Posted 04/10/2012 at 18:36:16
Ah, is it time for Tim Howard to become the whipping boy for a little while, given the rest of the team is playing well and tough to criticize, and he's made a couple of minor errors that can be latched onto?

"Totally agree with Paul 710. It's certainly time we had another 'Nev'"

@Bob(741) - I totally agree. And there's just a plethora of Nev quality goalkeepers out there...

Howard is a good goalkeeper, certainly towards the top end of the spectrum in the Premier League. He's not perfect, to be sure, but I think over the course of the season he definitely earns us more points than he loses, and overall he's given us the long-term solidity we've needed since Southall (not denigrating the superb Martyn, btw, it's just he was near the end of his career and so wasn't the long term option we needed).

Graeme Jenkinson
972 Posted 04/10/2012 at 22:07:07
Just had the worst possible day at work, then heard the RS lost at home tonight and felt genuinely cheered up a little bit. TIM - please practice your kicking.
Tom Bowers
012 Posted 05/10/2012 at 01:50:12
Howard is still one of the best and I haven't seen anyone better except maybe Joe Hart. Back four is a bit suspect but usually Tim comes good when necessary. At the moment, most of the squad are turning in consistent performances and playing much better as a team than last season. Certainly Mirallas with Jelavic provides much more movement and offensive prowess. This, coupled with Fella's great form. is reason to be optimistic. Let's hope there are no slip-ups against the likes of Wigan and QPR as that will put us in a great frame of mind to play Rodgers's Redshite.
John Siffor
017 Posted 05/10/2012 at 03:39:50
Very proud of TH. get Landon back here!
Peter Barry
020 Posted 05/10/2012 at 05:27:01
As an aside here in Bali, with the Star Network and so I presume it's the same all over Asia, they are showing nine live Premier League games this weekend. Guess which is the only game not being shown? Yep, you guessed it — Wigan/Everton. Even though we lie second in the Prem at the moment and could if results go our way be top by close of pay Sunday.

Everton/Wigan is deemed the only Prem game not attractive enough to Asian viewers. Which says a whole lot about Sky/Star and about their dismissal of Everton as a flash in the pan. Even the WBA/QPR game is deemed to be a more attractive proposition than Wigan/Everton.
Mick Davies
049 Posted 05/10/2012 at 10:04:12
Tim is like all goalies, his mistakes stand out as he's the last line of defence. His performance at Swansea was the difference between 3-0 and 3-3. Yes, the Southampton corner was a calamity but if a defender had headed that away it would have been forgotten about.

The Newcastle game was one of the strangest for years: a game we won but didn't, and I'm not just talking about the linesman. We scored a 'winner' in the last 2 minutes, then the team were standing around thinking about our position in the league and Howard was confronted by a centre forward who was allowed the freedom of Goodison park. If he'd saved that, we would have been talking about the 'match winning goalkeeper'.

Unfortunately, so fine are the margins that a mis-hit shot, an offside that never was and a ball that crossed the line mean we are 2nd and not joint top. Let's hope Tim's made his worst cock ups while we're still doing well, and applaud him for his optimism in the article: a welcome change from the "Let's hope we get to the 40 point safety mark before Xmas" shite.
Mick Davies
051 Posted 05/10/2012 at 10:22:29
Sorry, that should have read 'before March'. We don't start playing until xmas generally
Julian Batti
141 Posted 05/10/2012 at 17:51:58
Howard must go. He is a liability.

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