Martinez wants Everton to tighten up, but won’t blame Howard

Date published: Saturday 2nd January 2016 2:32 - James Marshment

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Roberto Martinez appreciates Everton must tighten up at the back if they are to beat Tottenham, but he does not believe the buck stops with goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Spurs head to Goodison Park on Sunday hoping to be the latest travelling side to benefit from a porous home defence that has conceded seven times in back-to-back defeats against Leicester and Stoke.

Howard has shouldered plenty of criticism for those performances after he conceded a penalty against the Foxes, while he was lobbed by Xherdan Shaqiri and failed to deal with a cross in the build up to the Potters’ third goal on Monday.

Martinez has refrained from publicly criticising his 36-year-old United States international, though, as he tries to work out how to prevent Mauricio Pochettino’s team from experiencing as much joy as the past two visitors to Goodison Park.

“Every player’s position is always under scrutiny; I think we are what we are because of the competition for places that we have,” the Spaniard said.

“But, in the same manner, I don’t think it’s a situation down to one individual. It would be very stupid from us just to think the solution is to blame someone. Tim Howard had an incredible moment against Newcastle, he had a great save in a key moment of the game.

“Clearly defensively we haven’t been good enough of late at home and I don’t think it’s down to one player. But, in the same way, nobody has guaranteed their starting place just because of your name or your past.”

With Leighton Baines only just back from injury and fellow England international Phil Jagielka sidelined for the past two months because of a knee problem, Martinez has had to place his trust in a youthful back four ahead of Howard.

And he believes the stopper’s vast experience is invaluable in trying to get them back on track.

“At the moment, we are realising that the importance of Tim Howard is important to help a young team like ours to reach the best level and be as good as we can,” Martinez added.

“It’s an area we don’t want to look away from, we need to become better, we have to defend the box better, but I think that’s a team responsibility rather than just highlighting one individual.”

Howard’s deputy Joel Robles may get his chance to impress this month anyway as Martinez has typically deployed him in the Capital One Cup, while next Saturday the Toffees host Dagenham in the FA Cup third round.

Martinez sees the run of three home fixtures in seven days as an ideal chance to banish the memories of the Stoke defeat when his men threw away a 3-2 lead.

“There are so many games in a short period of time that we’re going to have a really good opportunity to show how good we are as a squad,” he said. “Everyone will be needed and we can’t wait to get rid of the horrible feeling we left ourselves against Stoke at Goodison.”

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