Wednesday 24 January 2018

Moyes laments Howard's howler

Rory Smith



ALEX FERGUSON and Arsene Wenger do not agree on much, but they are united in their view of the part Everton are destined to play in the Premier League's 19th edition.

David Moyes's side are everyone's dark horses, the known unknowns in the race not just for Europe but the title, too. All of that can be undone in a second, though, by what Donald Rumsfeld might term unknown unknowns.

Tim Howard has forged a deserved reputation since moving to Goodison Park as one of the top flight's most consistent goalkeepers. Few of the Everton fans gathered in the Darwen End, brimming with the optimism of a new season, would have possessed any doubts over Moyes's last line of defence. Enter the unknown.

There appeared to be little danger when Howard raced out to collect El-Hadji Diouf's aimless header, just ahead of Nikola Kalinic. He claimed his prize easily enough, glanced up to assess his options and promptly, inexplicably dropped the ball. Kalinic swivelled and shot in to the bottom corner. All of that hope, all of that expectation, up in smoke in an instant.

"It was the deciding moment in the game," Moyes said. "Tim has been brilliant for us, but things like that happen, and it was costly. But it is just one game, and it came down to one small thing, so we will just move on."

In truth, Moyes had more reason to be displeased with his attack -- which he admitted failed to spark into life at any point -- than with his goalkeeper. The Everton of hype and hope would not have taken 91 minutes to draw a save from Paul Robinson. Even then, it came from Phil Jagielka and from considerable distance.

Defeat here will not be enough to send him back to the drawing board, but it is a reminder that good fortune cannot be taken for granted. Especially against Blackburn. Sam Allardyce's team are very much the league's known knowns. They are effective and tough to beat.

Blackburn carved out the better chances here, before and after Kalinic's fortuitous strike. Martin Olsson and Mame Diouf both missed one-on-ones, Ryan Nelsen and Steven Nzonzi both headed over and the impressive Phil Jones was denied by Sylvain Distin as Blackburn looked to seal victory on the counter attack.

Everton offered little in return. They will need to improve if they are to fulfil their burgeoning reputation and justify the praise of English football's great sages. Moyes will know that for certain.

Sunday Independent

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