New Everton manager Roberto Martinez has brought in a worthy backup for Tim Howard’s position between the sticks at Goodison Park.
For Tim Howard though, Joel Robles is just that – a backup.
“I don’t think that’s ever been in question … I have never asked for assurances (about my status)” Howard told reporters on a conference call to promote NBC Sports’ new Premier League coverage.
He even joked he’d have to nap through a few training sessions for him to be lifted from goal. “I know where I stand. I think my performances over the last 450 games have merited my place where I am right now. Unless I have been asleep for a few months and forgotten something I think all is pretty well in my camp.”
At 34 years old – younger for a goalkeeper than most other positions – the New Jersey native has racked up 260 Premier League appearances for Everton, missing just six total matches over his seven years at Goodison. Before that, he made 45 league appearances for English giants Manchester United.
Robles, coming over from Spain’s Atletico Madrid at just 23 years of age provides stiff competition for Howard. Behind Chelsea loanee Thibaut Courtois on Atletico’s depth chart, Robles made nine appearances last year on loan at now-relegated Wigan.
Howard also shook off any thoughts of returning to Major League Soccer soon on the heels of fellow American Clint Dempsey’s shock move.
“I’ve got three years left on my (Everton) contract – that’s what my future looks like – that’s what’s very concrete for me,” Howard said. “Obviously I’m American, so when my time in England, in Europe, is done I’m going to live in America. I’m going to be in America. So if I’m fit and healthy when that time comes, I think anything’s possible. But right now, I’m happy and I’m excited for the challenges that I’ve always had here at Everton.”
Finally, the U.S. international expressed his excitement at NBC’s upcoming coverage, saying the American soccer fan deserves full coverage of the league. “The American sports fan is just so hungry for soccer now,” Howard said. “Everyone wants to watch the Premier League. Even other athletes in other sports are watching Premier League soccer just because it’s so exciting.”
But you don’t have to take his word for it. The Premier League season begins on NBC August 17th.