John O'Kane was rated very highly but could not get into the Manchester United
side due to the likes of Phil and Gary Neville. He found it increasingly
difficult to even go and watch the first-team matches, knowing that his chances
of playing were effectively zero. With that situation unlikely to change
in the near future, O'Kane was unlikely to get many opportunities at Old
Trafford and should have been better served with a move elsewhere.
The prospects for him at Goodison Park looked good. When he arrived, he had
a point to prove in the Premiership and he was given the opportunity to prove
himself to Howard kendall, his new manager.
Previously, O'Kane had loan spells with Bury and Bradford where his skills
were appreciated. He passes and tackles intelligently. Furthermore, his movement
down the wing was fairly thoughtful. However, he also displayed what
appeared to be a stunning lack of effort while on loan. Perhaps the lad is
simply yearning for the Premiership football he know he deserves.
In his first games for Everton, John O'Kane looked promising but obviously
is lacking top-flight match practice a situation made worse by a booking
which was his 5th of the season and led to an automatic two-match ban in
O'Kane went on to make himself a regular in Everton's desperate struggle
to avoid the drop under Howard Kendall. While not setting the world alight,
O'Kane proved to be a solid choice at right-back, and showed a marked improvement
as he started to come to terms with the step up to Premiership football...
Or so it seemed. 1 July 1998 and Walter Smith arrived, spelling a swift end
to John O'Kane's adventures in the Premiership. O'Kane plays in a position
which simply does not figure in Walter Smith's increasingly bizarre defensive
line-up: right-back. A loan spell at 2nd Division Burnley for 2 months was
probably a blessed release.
Nothing came of that, but even an injury crisis was not enough to force Walter
Smith to reconsider the potential value of John O'Kane, who also picked up
3 yellow cards while he was at Burnley. The arrival of of Smith's old-boy,
David Weir, was surely the final
nail in Kane-O's Goodison coffin. After this, he played just one full match
the ill-fated FA Cup quarter-final at
Walter Smith's lack of enthusiasm for O'Kane and some of the other talented
youngsters he inherited may well be down to a conflict over attitude. If
so, it reflects poorly on Smith's managerial inability to bring them
into line. But the problem he faced was epitomised perhaps by churlish
comments overheard from Oster and O'Kane as they sat in the Main Stand, watching
their "teammates" crash at home to
Unsurprisingly, O'Kane was one in the batch of five to be put up
for sale at the end of Walter Smith's difficult first season in charge.
And the proof of the pudding was an almost total lack of interest in him
from other clubs. He did get on the subs bench against
Oxford United, but by early
October 1999, Smith told O'Kane to have his agent find him a free transfer.
All they came up with was another loan deal, this time with Bolton
Wanderers, but in December 1999 that was turned into a permanent move as
Walter Smith finally trimmed his small squad even more.
In 2004, O'Kane was spotted on the roster for Hyde United of the Unibond
Cup Statistics include all other non-league senior matches, as counted
by Everton FC in the Matchday Programme
© Marko Poutiainen
and Michael Kenrick 1999
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