Everton's legendary former goalkeeper Neville Southall has questioned David Moyes' selection policy for the League Cup defeat to Leeds, labeling the omission of No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Howard as "pointless."
The Welshman is The Toffees' record holder for consecutive league appearances with his run of 212 games, and he said that he used to complain if the boss ever tried to rest him. With Howard now approaching that record, having started the last 189 league matches, Southall explained that being dropped for cup games can do more harm than good.
"I hated missing games," Southall told the Liverpool Echo. "I used to have a row with Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall if they ever wanted to leave me out, because you'd lose a bit of momentum. I liked to stay in the zone. When I looked at the game against Leeds on TV I was looking to see if it was Tim playing, then thinking, 'Why have they left him out?' It's pointless. Outfield players I can understand, but once a goalkeeper gets in that groove you want to leave him in there."
With Slovakian goalkeeper Jan Mucha manning the net, Everton dropped a 2-1 result to Leeds Tuesday to crash out of the League Cup in the third round. Mucha has traditionally handled cup games for the Toffees to get minutes while giving Howard a breather.
"If you're No. 1, you're No. 1 and it's up to you to play yourself out of that position. I hated missing any game, even a Simod Cup tie against Millwall with 3,000 inside Goodison, because I was looking forward to playing in a young team. I think Howard Kendall left me out because he didn't want to be in the competition anyway!"
Southall expressed his admiration for the improvements to Howard's game since joing the club from Manchester United five years ago, but he also stated that he could still work on certain aspects of his game.
"Tim's a good goalkeeper," Southall said. "His distribution could be better. Sometimes he kicks it too high and too far, which is OK when you've got (Marouane) Fellaini on the end of it, but not always, but other than that he's a very good keeper. I think he's done well and he's improved since he's been at the club."
For his part, Howard is enjoying every minute of his time at Goodison, and believes that the Toffees' excellent team spirit will ensure that the disappointment at Elland Road will not derail their challenge for a European place this season.
"We have a limited budget compared to everyone else, so competing is tough, but I believe we can earn a Champions League place if we can put together a run like we did from Christmas to the end of last season," Howard said. "That is what we will deem a success, and our consistency will be key.
"This is such a hardworking, no-nonsense team, as blue-collar as it comes. Everyone respects us. Supporters of other clubs always tell me they cheer for Everton when their team is not playing.
"I can say this hand on heart: You will not find a more committed bunch of guys in Europe. There is no arrogance like at other clubs I have belonged to. Here, there are zero egos. You simply won't find that anywhere else. We all really love playing for this team."