On Sunday, Everton faced Liverpool in the 225th Merseyside derby, and, as with most of the recent meetings, it was the Evertonians who felt the most disappointment.
The result was a draw, but the feeling of absolute deflation and frustration shows how far we have come from the team that I watched growing up in the 90s. However, it also pointed out two areas of weakness in our squad.
We all knew that we needed a playmaker with guile and flair to open up resilient defences, and the pattern repeated itself again, where Everton ran out of ideas to open up a robust Liverpool defence. Towards the last 20 minutes of the match, the Blues needed a spark of creation.
Yet, we managed to score, and Liverpool created little. Instead of bemoaning a playmaker, which Martinez has already touted that he requires, I will be focusing on a player who the Spaniard still hasn’t accepted that needs replacing.
For the second time in a week, Everton conceded from a set play where an oncoming attacker had a free header inside the six-yard box. Teams play on the fact that Tim Howard is incapable of commanding his area, and doesn’t come to put pressure on crosses, whether that be punching them clear or catching. Either would be better than what he is currently doing, which appears to be waiting on his line for the ball to pass him into the net.
Yes, on both occasions the player heading in should have been marked, but the fact remains that anything in that area should be claimed, and any top keeper would be commanding the situation. Even our opposition keeper, who has received criticism for his perceived inability to claim crosses and command his area would have done more to put off an onrushing attacker by ‘attempting’ to get to the ball.
I praised Howard as being an experienced member of the squad, and useful at helping young players break through into the first-team, in my last article, but, unfortunately, we are in need of someone who can do the mentor role and provide stability in his position. At the moment (and he has had spells in each of the last couple of years as well), he is causing problems for the defenders in front of him.
I feel that it is now due time that Martinez came to accept that we need a new goalkeeper, and one of the class that we require to move forward.