In what would prove to be Tim Howard's last season with the club, things did not go well for the American shot stopper. He was unable to improve upon his struggles last season and was eventually benched in favor of Joel Robles.
While Howard may have been a faithful servant of the club for nearly ten years, he, along with the defense were largely to blame for the unreasonable amount of goals allowed. Howard's review unfortunately cannot be based on his tenure with the club, but instead in his performance this season, which was less than stellar.
What he did well
It goes without saying that being a goalkeeper is arguably the toughest position in soccer. Tasked with guarding a net 24 feet wide and eight feet tall, they are often the first to be praised, but also the first to be blamed for a goal. One could argue for hours about whether a goal was the fault of the goalkeeper, the defenders or a combination of the two.
One thing Howard has always excelled at is making the acrobatic saves. Even into his late thirties Tim Howard has remained in spectacular shape, allowing him to dive across the goal and make an athletic save to keep the ball out of the goal. While his positioning can be fairly questioned, he often makes up for these errors by being there in time to stop the ball. Granted, this may have happened less than usual the past two season, but during a few games this season he was solid enough to keep the team in the game.
What he could have done better
Simply put, Tim Howard wasn't good enough to be the starting goalkeeper for Everton this year. Unfortunately, this is one of those reviews where there is more bad things to say than good ones. To start, Howard's positioning always seemed suspect. Whether it was in the run of play, during set pieces or in a situation where he had to come out of the net to punch the ball, he just rarely seemed to be in the right place. This flaw, coupled with Roberto Martinez's terrible defensive tactics were a recipe for disaster.
In the past Howard could be relied on the make the right save at the right time. There may have been better keepers in the league, but he was often among the most consistent goalkeepers in England. This season and most of last as well he could not be called consistent and was frequently bad. Those saves the he was able to make in the past seemed to go in time and time again. I often thought that the fans were a little harsh on him and his performances, but it became apparent early in the year that we were no longer seeing the Tim Howard we grew to rely on over the years.
In the end it was not surprising that Howard was yanked from goal in favor of the solid yet unspectacular Joel Robles. Robles was able to step in a make the plays Howard was unable to, and while the defense continued to leak often, starting Robles proved to be the correct decision.
The summer ahead
Tim Howard will be heading back to the United States to man the goal for the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer. Howard's detractors will no longer have to worry about the American in goal for the Toffees and he was able to leave the team with a clean sheet in his final performance. He was an excellent ambassador for the club and a true Toffee and I think I speak for everyone in wishing him well in his future endeavors.
Final Grade: D
It's impossible to give Howard a passing grade for this season's performance. He had his moments where he was solid but he was largely ineffective and deserved to be benched in favor of Robles. It was sad to see his tenure tenure with Everton come to such an unceremonious end, but rarely do players get to leave a club on the top of their game.