Player: Tim Howard #24
Games Played: 32; Games Started: 32; Saves: 66 Clean Sheets; 7
It was a rough year for Tim Howard. Fresh off a fantastic World Cup that saw him stonewall Belgium for 90 minutes before conceding two excellent goals, the American keeper looked set to take the Premier League by storm and continue his excellent goalkeeping. Unfortunately it all went a bit sideways for him along with Everton. While Howard wasn't as bad as many on the internet would make you think, he also never peaked quite like he did against Belgium. It is hard to say that Howard ever won us a game by making phenomenal saves to keep Everton in a match. Couple that with multiple silly mistakes and it is easy to see why Evertonians are disgruntled with the American international.
That said, it is a fair question to ask if Howard is now on the down slope of his career. The American is 36, and though goalkeepers can play into their 40's with proper care and ability, Howard's style of play is working against him. Howard has always been a more athletic keeper, using his body and agility to make some rather ridiculous saves. With age comes a reduction in those abilities. Maybe Howard has finally hit that wall. It is possible he will need to remake himself and become a smarter keeper, someone who does a better job of reading the game so he doesn't have to expend as much physical energy. Make the game mental and he can extend his career to the end of his current Everton contract.
Of course it is also possible this was just a down year, the World Cup may have taken too much of a toll on Howard and a full summer off could see him return to his old form. He's had poor seasons before and rebounded well, it isn't unlikely it happens once again. And if Roberto Martinez finally fixes his central midfield and central defense issues, Howard may not even need to improve as much if that happens.
What He Did Well
ABout the only thing decent Howard did this year is shot stopping. It may seem ludicrous to say given the number of goals he conceded, but Howard was still a decent shot stopper. He certainly wasn't as good as past seasons, but it wasn't terrible. The big problem with Everton conceding so many goals was the space they gave attacking players. Forwards were able to take high percentage shots inside the box at a much higher rate than previous seasons.
That ability comes down to the defensive midfield and center backs. Had both positions been more aggressive and in form, it is likely Howard is not facing as many 10-12 yard shots that are easily put into the back of the net.
What He Could Have Done Better
The honest answer to this is a little bit of everything. I liken Howard's season to that of an A student that suddenly starts putting in B- work. It isn't terrible, but it isn't what you expect out of him. But the one thing I want to focus on his his inability to win a game. I think that ability to be a force in goal is something that can really elevate a team and turn a season around. Howard has done it numerous times before, but he never did it this year. He may have a game where he was stopping shots well, but then a silly mistake or two cost Everton a goal. I want to see that dominating performance again, something where Everton gets 3 points because of how great Howard was. If that can come back Everton will be in excellent shape.
What are your thoughts on Tim Howard's season? Give him a grade below in our poll, A-F.