Howard has been outstanding for Everton since joining the club in 2006. The New Jersey native has been the club’s starting goalkeeper since then, making over 250 appearances for the Toffees in all competitions.
At 33, Howard is at the peak of his career, and he was happy to extend his relationship with the club that has become his second home.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Howard said. “I’ve had a smile on my face ever since we finalised the deal. When you have a really good relationship in life and both sides are eager to continue and keep that going, it’s a no-brainer.
“This hasn’t been a knockdown, drawn-out type of negotiation with meetings or anything like that. They were very happy to keep me here and I was very, very happy to stay. It’s a place that is home for me.”
By all accounts, Howard has no plans to leave Everton. The player and club want to stay together for the foreseeable future, as he (and his family) is settled in the area. His original contract was due to expire at the end of the season, so signing the extension was a mere formality.
Howard’s outlined his own ambitions during the interview he gave EvertonFC.com after signing the extension.
“I hope to be able to get ourselves into Europe, get into more cup finals,” he said. “We want to get back to that stage and put ourselves firmly in the running to win some silverware.”
Things can change at warp speed in this game. Under the guidance of manager David Moyes, Everton can usually bet on finishing in the top half of the Premier League, but it won’t aim for much more than that. There are at least five or six Premier-League clubs that start each season with the goal of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. Everton is not one of them.
Everton operates on a very tight budget (compared to those other clubs), and its financial future is far from certain. Owner Bill Kenwright has put the club up for sale, and what happens on that front could change its, Moyes’, and Howard’s future.
If a manager’s job opens up at one of the bigger clubs, Moyes’ name will appear on the short-list of candidates. He could bolt for the right opportunity, and there’s no reason to believe his successor at Everton will achieve the same (relative) success.
If Everton’s progress stalls and European qualification — through league positions or cup runs — is impossible, where does that leave Howard? It’s unlikely that he will want to spend his remaining peak years at a club that is going through a rebuilding phase.
Howard has built a reputation as one of the most consistent, durable and dependable goalkeepers during his nine years in English soccer. Trophy-contending teams know a top goalkeeper is a key to victory.
Howard is one of the best goalkeepers playing outside of the UEFA Champions or Europa Leagues one can find. This is no secret.
A big club, in England or in Europe, may be in the market for a starting goalkeeper in the not-too-distant future. It could see Howard at an unstable Everton as an ideal signing. If it offers the cash-strapped Toffees enough to talk to the veteran goalkeeper, a lucrative contract could tempt the American to uproot his family and try a new adventure.