Roberto Martinez defending Tim Howard has become the norm at Everton. As the Toffees continue to leak goals, critics point to the goalkeeper as the problem, then Martinez assures everyone that Howard is still the team's starter and the team needs to play better as a whole so he's not hung out to dry.
That happened again after Everton conceded a late goal over the weekend in a disappointing 3-3 draw with Bournemouth. But while backup Joel Robles will start for the team in the Capital One Cup, Martinez made it clear that Howard was still his No. 1.
"In this competition, Joel was man of the match in the last round and he's going to start tomorrow," Martinez said. "That's something that's been planned.
"Since he came back into the side after the previous round, Tim has been very consistent performing with a real influence on the back four and the rest of the team. The third goal at Bournemouth was a disappointment, because it was the last kick of the game. But as a team, we should have done a lot better, and not just rely on the goalkeeper.
"The ball should never get into that position. When someone has a free header just outside the six yard box, there's a real question about the marking. That's something we have to learn. As a young team, sometimes those moments can surprise you. I don't think it was an individual error at all."
Martinez is right that Howard shouldn't be put in that situation and that the defending was poor. The defense has been problematic far too often and should cut out some of the attacks before they were get to Howard. But that doesn't excuse the fact that Howard has been inconsistent, his positioning poor and he is also partly responsible for some of the goals Everton are conceding.
Robles isn't very good so while he may play in the Capital One Cup, it's tough to imagine the Toffees sticking with him with any regularity. Howard will be the Everton starting goalkeeper, but he needs to play better. His positioning, in particular, needs to take several giant steps forward.
The United States needs a steady goalkeeper and while neither Howard nor Brad Guzan has been bad for country, neither has been great either. Someone needs to take hold of the starting job and that starts at the club level, where things aren't as rosy.