Is Tim Howard’s future at Everton under threat?

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Yesterday we joked about how Everton are fast becoming Wigan Atheltic II.

But for US national team stalwart Tim Howard, it might not be a laughing matter.

Roberto Martinez is looking to stamp his authority in charge at Everton, and the new manager has recruited plenty of his former players already as the Toffees transformation continues.

And after signing Spanish Under-21 goalkeeper Joel Robles from Atletico Madrid, Howard could have a fight on his hands for the No.1 jersey.

The Spanish youngster, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Wigan, joins former teammates Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz at Goodison Park.

Robles is only 23, but he is already relishing the challenge to compete with Howard for the starting spot.

Obviously we will be competing together and it’s the manager’s decision at the end of the day (who he chooses).

Robles doesn’t seem too content to be a long-term second-choice ‘keeper behind Howard. So what does that mean for the USMNT’s long-term star between the sticks? It is hard to say.

But it has definitely been a summer of change for Howard. His long-term goalkeeping coach Chris Woods has switched Everton for Manchester United, so Howard will no longer work with a coach he’s familiar with on a day-to-day basis. But Woods will still keep his position as the USA’s goalkeeper coach.

(MORE: Are Everton quickly becoming Wigan Athletic II? As Robles joins Kone and Alcaraz)

And Howard was under some intense pressure last season. After a few mistakes in goal for Everton coupled with Brad Guzan’s fine form at Aston Villa, it wasn’t the easiest season for the former Manchester United ‘keeper.

source: Reuters
Will Martinez opt for Joel Robles over Tim Howard?

Robles is a different type of ‘keeper to Howard, he is all action, comes off his line, is extremely good with his feet and at 6 foot 5 towers above attackers at set pieces to often collect the ball with ease. Howard is a pure shot-stopper whose talent is undoubted.

At the age of 34 he already has 11 years of playing experience in the EPL with United and Everton. But this coming season could see him faced with his biggest challenge yet. Both for his club side and the national team.

On the flip side, Howard could get even better. Most goalkeepers don’t hit their prime until they get past 35, so the best is yet to come. And having a keen, young and ambitious ‘keeper pushing you all the way may help Howard to improve further.

We shall wait and see. Howard has a fight on his hands for club and country. Over the years he’s been up to for the challenge, but this may be his toughest yet.

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)

VIDEO: A sneak peek of Everton’s Europa League journey – Part 2

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In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.

Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.

[ MORE: Live Europa League scores

[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ] 

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/everton-unseen-part-2-everton-host-mfk-ruzomberok-europa-league

FIFA to send in emergency team to run Cameroon football

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.

The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.

FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.

CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.

FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”

Transfer Roundup: Tottenham complete signing of Sanchez, Clucas joins Swansea

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Tottenham reportedly broke the bank for its first transfer of the summer.

The North London club confirmed that it had completed a transfer with Ajax for defender Davinson Sanchez after the Colombian international passed a medical. According to The Telegraph, the deal is worth around $54 million, a club record. The deal is subject to acquisition of Sanchez’s work permit but given the transfer fee and him being in Colombia’s squad, it’s likely a mere formality at this point.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The 21-year-old defender brings speed and strength to Tottenham’s backline as well as a year of seasoning in the Eredivisie, which features plenty of attacking talent. Sanchez will battle with Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen for a place in Spurs’ three-man backline.

It’s a risk moving to a new club a year ahead of the World Cup, but Sanchez is hoping that with appearances in the UEFA Champions League and Premier League up for grabs, he can do well enough to keep his place in the Colombia National Team squad.

Here’s some more transfer news from across England:

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