Everton manager Roberto Martinez has backed goalkeeper Tim Howard ahead the busy Christmas period. This comes despite growing fan unrest at the 36-year-old's continued inclusion in the team.
Howard has made several errors this season, and came under particularly harsh criticism after the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal last month. The form of Joel Robles in the Capital One Cup has also added to the pressure on the current number one, and made his undroppable status more confusing for the supporters.
However, speaking at the inaugural BlazerCon in New York, Martinez has backed his man, confusingly claiming that he needs the former Man Utd ace to 'control' his defence.
According to ToffeeWeb, he said: "When i come into the dressing room and I see Tim Howard sitting there, I feel safe. I know he'll control Phil Jagielka, I know he will control John Stones, I know he will control Leighton Baines. "
It is unclear how long this 'control' will last while the three senior players continue to have to cover for their teammate's mistakes.
Martinez also spoke about the importance of the Christmas period for the Toffees, something we have also flagged up here. Having faced all of last season's top eight in their first ten games, the Blues now have an easier run until the New Year.
The Catalan said: " I would prefer to see a winter break, so that we are more in line with much of Europe." However, while it still exists, "it is a chance to win 21 points in a short period of time."
With the standard of teams the side will face now dropping, this could be a vital part of Everton's season. Martinez added that it is crucial in our hopes of challenging for the top four this season, according to ToffeeWeb.
The Goodison Park Boss was the only Premier League manager speaking at BlazerCon, which has been organised by 'Men in Blazers' Roger Bennett and Michael Davies to showcase football in the States. Also, thanks to the efforts of EvertonUSA, the Blues were the only Premier League team to have a stall selling merchandise at the event. A rare win for the much-criticized marketing department.