The American goalkeeper has been lauded where it has not been strictly necessary.
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is often billed as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, and though he is a consistent and highly capable stopper, he is by no means the best – nor has he ever been.
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There is a tendency within the British press to preen at an American player when he comes to the Premier League. All the old jokes about the new world embracing the old are wheeled out in full force when one particular player starts performing above expectations, and if anything, it’s condescending.
When Howard first arrived back in 2003, he came as a youngster (for a goalkeeper) still learning the game having established himself at MLS side NY/NJ Metrostars, but it quickly became apparent that he didn’t have the necessary ingredients to guard the net at Old Trafford, lasting just three years until he was shipped out to Everton.
Whilst at the Toffees he saw his stock rise to the point of gaining national recognition for his contribution, but it apparently was not enough to earn him a chance at another top four side.
This could have been down to Everton’s consistent involvement around the top six and frequently qualifying for Europe, but during that time the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and even Man United have all needed a little extra assistance between the posts, but not one of them looked into the possibility of signing Howard.
Howard is another in a line of talented American goalkeepers to arrive in the English football leagues. Following trail blazer Kasey Keller and the evergreen Brad Friedel, it’s an anomaly that he has collected the most silverware (a whopping two trophies!) whilst on these shores. But despite that, he ranks daily low when it comes to the overall contributions made by quality US goalkeepers.
This isn’t to say that Howard is a bad goalkeeper – far from it – but he is frequently lauded for his consistency when there is a lot letting his game down.
Often prone, like most goalkeepers, to an error, they have been becoming more frequent as the years roll by. And where his shot stopping excels, his decision making and positional discipline sometimes suffers.
After a good showing at the World Cup, he placed himself on gardening leave from the United States national side, knowing that the the talented Brad Guzan is finally ready to surpass him, and wary that the veteran Nick Rimando and rookie Bill Hamid can step in when needed, his time with his country may be over.
Whether that means he is preparing to extend his spell in the Premier League remains to be seen. The lack of international football doesn’t appear to have caused an upturn in his fortunes. He has a good defence in front of him at Everton, and an even better midfield, which is the key to minimising a goalkeeper’s work.
Players are often judged on the success they garner in their careers, and so far Howard has only won trophies by default, and how will that stand up when he finally hangs up his gloves?
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