This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Having signed from Burnley in the summer of 2017, Michael Keane has endured a difficult time with Everton. The centre-back hasn’t developed into the consistent and reliable centre-back it looked like he would become, and appears to have even lost some of the defensive solidity that marked him out as an impressive player at Turf Moor.
As per WhoScored, the 26-year-old’s numbers from his final season at Burnley compared to last year are startling. In the 2016/2017 campaign, Keane averaged an impressive 1.8 interceptions and 7.4 clearances per game, and committed just 0.4 fouls.
The indoor football skills in the video below have to be seen to be believed…
However, in the Premier League season just gone, Keane made less interceptions (1.5) and clearances (3.9), and made more fouls per game too (0.9), even if he did impress alongside Kurt Zouma at times.
It all speaks dividends of a player who actually seems to be regressing in the art of defending, rather than growing with age and experience. And his performance for England on Friday night was simply symptomatic of his start to the current campaign.
Having taken an early lead against the Czech Republic through a Harry Kane penalty, what the Three Lions didn’t need was for the defence to fall asleep at a corner just minutes later. The main culprit? Keane, of course. The Everton centre-back lost his man in what is becoming an all-too-familiar tale with him.
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His former teammate at Burnley, Paul Robinson, painted a worrying picture of the kind of defensive shortcomings surrounding the 26-year-old.
“He’s an all-round centre half, but I think one thing he lacks ever so slightly is concentration. He needs somebody next to him to keep him on the ball all the time, if you like. His ability as a footballer, his passing ability, is unquestioned – his ability in the air, and he’s got so much speed. He sometimes gets caught out, people get in behind him.”
And looking at the reaction from some of these Everton fans from Friday evening, the 6 foot 3 man’s display for the Three Lions was wildly unsurprising.
Keane with one player to mark and he has his back to him and he scores hahaha
— Evan (@EvanEFC) 11 October 2019
Big Mick Keane getting attracted to the ball and not sticking with his man I’m in shock
— Lee Jones (@leej_efc) 11 October 2019
Wait… Michael Keane had the ability to defend at set pieces? Must’ve lost that first day he walked into FF.
— Bradley Rowlands (@BradEFC10) 11 October 2019
Which manager has made the best start?
More performances like the one against the Czech Republic, and Keane’s place for both England and Everton will be in serious jeopardy.
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