Keane happy to be back in the fold

02/04/2023 49comments  |  Jump to last

Michael Keane has opened up about his frustration under Frank Lampard, admitting that it was a tough pill to swallow when the former Everton boss froze him out of his plans this season.

The 30-year-old played a vital role with a superb goal on that dramatic night last May when the Blues came back from 2-0 down against Crystal Palace to win 3-2 and guarantee their Premier League survival but he would play just 20 further minutes of top-flight football under Lampard after that.

Keane was one of the centre-halves moved aside following the acquisitions of James Tarkowski and Conor Coady over the summer and it seemed as though the manager had made his mind up regarding his future as a regular in the Everton first team.

By the January transfer window came around, it was clear that he was surplus to requirements, with Lampard suggesting he could leave Goodison Park if the right offer arose. Keane was linked with moves to the likes of Nottingham Forest but the Everton hierarchy were reluctant to strengthen a rival in the relegation fight with a player they felt still had plenty to offer.

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Fortunately for the former Burnley centre-half, Sean Dyche agreed and it was not a surprise when Keane was drafted back into the side by Lampard's replacement not long after taking charge at the end of January.

“Frank was a good person, but he didn’t really speak to me," Keane told Jonathan Northcroft of The Times of Lampard, who was sacked following an awful run of results between October and mid-January. "When I asked what I could do to get a chance, he said, ‘there’s nothing really.’ He said, ‘at your age, I’m not going to tell you what to improve, what you should work on. You just need to keep going and see what happens.’

"Frank was a really good person. But unfortunately it didn’t work out — and on a personal level it was probably what I needed to get back in the team.

“I didn’t want to go [in January]. I love the club and the people around the club, our fans. So, I would have been gutted to leave but from a career point of view I wanted to play games and felt I had a lot to offer.

“As a centre-half I’m the right age now; not old but really experienced. I feel my best years are ahead and didn’t want to waste them sitting on the bench.”

With Dyche and his staff having worked to build up his fitness, Keane was handed his first League start of the campaign at the Emirates Stadium in what was a difficult assignment against the leaders, Arsenal, and though he had a difficult time of it on a night when he admits his legs "went" due to months without regular action, he has been a fixture at the back ever since.

He weighed in with an important assist at Nottingham Forest in a 2-2 draw last month and, alongside his former Clarets team-mate James Tarkowski, helped the side keep a clean sheet against in-form Brentford.

“I’m just enjoying being back playing,” he said. “And to be honest, I enjoy playing under pressure — and every game is a big game when you’re in a relegation battle.  

“We’ve got the players to do it, the experience from last year of how to get out of these situations, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be our manager, in the position we’re in. I’m confident we’ll have enough – but we’ve got to show it.

“This is my sixth year with Everton, now, and in general the six years have not been what I thought and hoped they would be, footballing wise and where we’ve finished each year in the table. But if we survive this season, I really think we can push on, and I want to play a part.”


Reader Comments (49)

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David West
1 Posted 02/04/2023 at 17:33:49
Good honest, professional. Can't say he's my favourite or first on my teamsheet. But never lacks effort, gives his all.
Given us decent service even if ability wise has never torn up any trees.
We have definitely looked a bit more solid lately with him back.
Good luck lad.
David Hallwood
2 Posted 02/04/2023 at 17:44:53
Sorry he's had too many 'rabbit caught in the headlights' moments for me. He's fine as a low block defender, but I'm seriously concerned about him up against Kane & Son both of who drop deep and do defenders with their movement behind.

Got too many bad memories of his horrendous performances.

Lee Courtliff
3 Posted 02/04/2023 at 18:32:59
He gets lost up the pitch and turns like a submarine, just like Tarks. He's looked better lately because of the way the team is set-up.

If we are to ever progress (haha) and try to play the more modern way, Keane and his weaknesses will be exposed yet again. Mina could have played instead and the results would have been the same or possibly better, imo.

Michael seems like a nice guy and he has had some very good games for us, but he's not suddenly going to change at his age. Obviously I wish him luck but I gave up on him a while ago, bit like Frank did.

Paul Hewitt
4 Posted 02/04/2023 at 18:39:43
One of the worst centre-backs I've seen. Get rid in the summer.
Joe McMahon
5 Posted 02/04/2023 at 18:53:12
Lee, I agree that when Mina is fit he has to be first choice.
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 02/04/2023 at 19:05:11
This is possibly the longest period of Yerry Mina's Everton career when he's actually been fit.

He told those young kids he would die for Everton but he was probably talking about his contract and how he will feel like dying when it's over because he will never get another one like it in his life.

Jack Convery
7 Posted 02/04/2023 at 20:09:43
I hate to say it, Michael Keane, but so is Harry Kane. Prove me wrong and stop him scoring tomorrow.

I do believe Michael Keane does give his all to the cause but he's just not good enough for a team that wants to compete effectively in the Premier League.

Given our financial situation, if anyone comes in with £18M plus, I would sell him. Give Branthwaite or Godfrey a go alongside Tarkowskl next season. Coady will be the 4th central defender and that should be enough. Mina's on a free and Holgate can go for £10M plus.

Mark Ryan
8 Posted 02/04/2023 at 20:09:44
Why was he talking to Lampard? He should have been getting coached by the defensive coaches and asking them how to improve.

Thank God Frank's moved on; otherwise, we'd have no chance.

Jerome Shields
9 Posted 02/04/2023 at 20:36:31
Tony #6
He has always had a bad attitude and I don't think he puts the effort into training. Fans in the crowd say he looks as if he could not care less whether he plays are not.

Keane is better under Dyche, and hopefully he can contain his error streak. Dyche is on the bench as a replacement for a injuried play, nothing else, with his attitude.

Anthony Dove
10 Posted 02/04/2023 at 20:54:15
I have always thought there was a good player there. He is skilful on the ground and an excellent header. He may not be the quickest but Tarkowski, Coady and Mina are hardly greyhounds.

His main problem, apart from playing in a shit team, has been lack of confidence. I think there are definite signs that Sean Dyche knows how to get the best out of him.

Christy Ring
11 Posted 02/04/2023 at 21:08:13
I have to say, his goal against Palace, and a great strike, turned the game, so I've nothing but admiration for Keane.
Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 02/04/2023 at 21:15:18
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a central defender score such an exquisite goal in my life Christy, and believe that if Michael Keane could bring this calmness into his defensive game, he would improve by at least 50% overnight?

See Frank, I only had to think about that for ten seconds, and I’m sure this would have been great advice if you had spoken to Michael Keane, and said that!!!

Mal van Schaick
13 Posted 02/04/2023 at 21:27:18
Keane has had to endure playing alongside Holgate, it was bound to knock his confidence when his playing partner was making some calamitous errors, that lost us valuable points.

I think we look more solid now he is partnering Tarkowski, and I hope that partnership will keep enough clean sheets to get us to safety.

Garry Martin
14 Posted 02/04/2023 at 21:28:53
Great player for EFC when we get corners, however, his defending abilities leave alot to be desired.
Paul Hughes
15 Posted 02/04/2023 at 22:11:29
Keane is, in my opinion, a confidence player. His best performances were in the empty stadiums when there wasn’t a crowd on his back.

He’s now got a bit of confidence with his old mate Tarko playing next to him, and his old boss in charge.

Just shows, though, what a useless man-manager Frank was. Couldn’t understand why not everyone is like him. You can’t treat everyone the same.

Colin Metcalfe
16 Posted 02/04/2023 at 22:33:49
One of the worse defenders we have had at the club that may seem harsh but I honestly don’t rate him, happy to see him go in the summer
Dave Evans
17 Posted 02/04/2023 at 22:42:14
In your efforts to re-establish confidence and give your best for the club at this vital time, Micheal, please God don't read the comments on here.
Joseph Terrence
18 Posted 02/04/2023 at 22:48:01
When I asked what I could do to get a chance, he said, ‘there’s nothing really.’ He said, ‘at your age, I’m not going to tell you what to improve, what you should work on. You just need to keep going and see what happens.’

Shocking really

Fran Mitchell
19 Posted 02/04/2023 at 22:52:37
his weaknesses are obvious and are what stop him from ever being a 'top' defender. but he is 'Premier League' quality, he'd get into most teams in the lower half of the league.

the way we are setting up right now, low block, suits Keane much more than it suits Coady.

The number of goals we conceded from set pieces before Dyche came in was criminal, but we have improved greatly, winning headers and getting the ball out of danger most of the time. Keane and Tarkowski are made for this type of defending. The likes of Leicester, Southampton, Bournemouth, Wolves, Leeds would dream of having such 'solid but limited ' Central defenders.

In the long term, we obviously need better and hopefully we keep hold of Branthwaite as long term central defender.

But there will not be wholesale changes this summer, unless we're relegated, we simply don't have the finances, and we may not be allowed anyway.

I expect Keane and Tarkowski will remain our main central defenders next season, with Godfrey and Branthwaite as reserve. Mina and Holgate will leave.

Jay Harris
20 Posted 02/04/2023 at 22:58:01
I hate to say it but I think he is one of the worst CB's Ive seen play for Everton. His concentration is suspect, He turns like the Titanic and he is too nice to get stuck in and wind the opposition up the way Mina does.
Nick Armitage
21 Posted 02/04/2023 at 23:29:34
He's a championship player, which is lucky for us because that's where we'll be next season.
Bill Gienapp
22 Posted 02/04/2023 at 23:31:28
He seems to fit Dyche's system and answered the bell when called upon - fair play. But I don't think there was a single Everton fan who was sorry to see him dropped once and for all under Lampard (also claiming that he enjoys playing under pressure is a bit of a hoot).
Jamie Sweet
23 Posted 02/04/2023 at 23:34:51

Watching Keane's assist for our first goal in this game, you could be excused for thinking that he could possibly be the greatest ball playing center half of a generation!

Those highlights will also make you realise that we really could do with a 100% fit and focused Calvert-Lewin playing in our last 10 games...

Don Alexander
24 Posted 03/04/2023 at 00:31:56
The fact that he admits that "my legs went" speaks volumes for the training inadequacy built-in to FF for decades whilst it was stuffed full of Kenwright kiss-asses, regardless of whichever manager/staff took full advantage of us on the roundabout of leadership chaos so spectacularly created by those still lamentably in charge.

For Keane or any other millionaire-nobody sucking the very lifeblood from OUR club to openly admit "my legs went during a match" is shameful, whilst also moaning that his Everton career hasn't progressed as he'd hoped.

He and every player all spout how "professional" they are.


My arse!!

Kieran Kinsella
25 Posted 03/04/2023 at 00:40:34

I don’t see Franks comments as shocking. I see them as sensible. Obviously Frank had seen enough of Keane and the other Chuckle Brother Holgate which is why he signed Tark and Coady. Keane like Davies has been a regular feature in our worst performances that have cost several managers their jobs. He does OK with a tough nut beside him but I don’t trust him not to make a critical mistake again. If you’re 17 or 18 you get pointers. If you’re pushing 30 and have an uncanny ability to
Concede penalties and score own goals then what hope is there for you? Seems like a nice bloke. No doubt he does his best. He’s not a shirker like Doucoure but he’s just not very good.

Mick Davies
26 Posted 03/04/2023 at 02:11:37
Don @ 24,

I can only think of one of our players who is worthy of the title 'Professional' and that's our Captain: the rest could be classed as mercenaries.

Alan J Thompson
27 Posted 03/04/2023 at 06:01:34
How many games did Keane and Tarkowski play together at Burnley as my memory, as faulty as it is, is that Tarkowski was the third choice a lot of the time?

At the end of this season we will see some central defenders departing, Mina at the end of his contract and Coady's loan brought to a halt which will leave us with Tarkowski, Keane and Branthwaite with Godfrey and Holgate as cover for all back four places and even that may not be the final position if either P&S and/or relegation demands require further cost cutting.

It isn't an ideal position or possibly the retention of the best players but it must most assuredly come about. It may also mean the departure of some of our better players who, to my mind, would be Pickford and Onana. Whatever, it will most likely be a matter for the almost inevitable new team of Accountants.

Paul O'Neill
28 Posted 03/04/2023 at 06:19:38
In any walk of life, the job of a good manager is to encourage, advise and motivate. I had a soft spot for Frankie as a lot of us did, but there is nothing worse in the workplace, and I speak from personal experience, in not feeling valued or respected.

Michael Keane might be a millionaire, but he has had a haunted look about him in the past that has genuinely worried me, especially given his (admirably talked about) mental health difficulties. Feeling part of a team at work and feeling valued and respected will undoubtedly boost him, and Dyche strikes me as that sort of leader.

I certainly hope so for Michael but also for the rest of us and the club's Premier League future!

Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 03/04/2023 at 07:15:59
Okay, I've never been Keane's biggest fan and I have been a critic.

For a 30 year old experienced centre back, he still worries me. He has lapses of concentration, doesn't read or anticipate enough and needs to be led.


Credit where due and I had him tied as our joint best player against Chelsea. He's what we've got so the manager has to make it work and can as he knows him well. Even though not my preferred style, maybe he can operate better under Dyche an with a leader like Tarkowski alongside him.

Ray Robinson
30 Posted 03/04/2023 at 08:12:34
Funny how people see things differently. His occasional brain farts aside, I think Keane is actually our best defender. He wouldn’t be suited to a high line defence but we haven’t played like that for years and certainly won’t under Dyche. Always good for a 1-0 home win.

Alan, I think Tarkowski was bought as Keane’s replacement and that they actually only played a few games together for Burnley. Could be wrong there - relying on memory.

Danny O’Neill
31 Posted 03/04/2023 at 08:20:38
It is interesting Ray. A game of opinions.

In my opinion, our best centre back is Mina. He just can't last more than about 15 minutes before a lengthy period on the side.

It doesn't mean he isn't a good defender though.

I like Tarkowski. I thought Coady looked promising, but he seemed to fade after a good start. After being exited with Godfrey, the jury is out. I'll be honest, he seems to be a player who I don't know what his best position is.

And, although unlikely under Dyche, I can see Mykolenko better of the left of a back three.

Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 03/04/2023 at 09:47:49
Joseph (18), what was shocking? The managers answer or the question asked by a 29 year player?
Danny O’Neill
33 Posted 03/04/2023 at 09:59:53
It is accurate Dave. At 30 years old, he's not improving. He is what he is and what we have.
Brian Harrison
34 Posted 03/04/2023 at 10:06:51
Danny 31

I don't disagree about Mina being our best CB but as you say, he is made of glass and with his injury record you cant build a side round a guy who cant seem to stay fit. Regarding the Keane or Coady debate, for me Keane is better in the air than Coady and since his return already has an assist, and lets not forget it was Keanes goal against Palace that started the comeback.
Also he will carry the ball out of defence something Coady never does, yes sometimes he has lapses of concentration but overall I agree with Dyche given our options I would pick Tarkowski and Keane as our best CB pairing.

Bobby Mallon
35 Posted 03/04/2023 at 10:11:54
David @2. If Kane and son drop deep then let them, it only becomes a problem when the center backs follow. Let them go deep, keep our defence on the 18 yard box and let the midfield pick ‘em up. We don’t have the players to play like city but we do have the players to play a counter attacking style home and away. We cannot loose this and if that means a bore draw then so be it.
Ben King
36 Posted 03/04/2023 at 11:52:50
Yeah I don’t understand all this lazy rhetoric about Tarks and Keane playing together at Burnley…..did they???

I don’t think they did that much: thought Keane kept Tarks out of the side which means Dyche rated Mee & Keane more highly

Happy to be corrected but for now I’m considering all the ‘they played together’ as BS

Frank Sheppard
37 Posted 03/04/2023 at 13:34:07
A few years ago he played with a horrendous toe injury, at the risk of amputation, and playing in a boot far too big. He obviously struggled at that time. After recovery he seemed to have a phase of regular costly errors leading to goals and own goals. Be interesting to see how he takes his opportunity now.
Rob Halligan
38 Posted 03/04/2023 at 13:51:20
Frank, he also suffered a fractured skull in an horrendous collision at Bournemouth. Takes some doing coming back from that, especially being a centre half who probably heads a ball more than most. Didn’t seem to do Dixie Dean any harm after also suffering a fractured skull following a motorcycle accident and having metal plates inserted in his head. Dixie always said those metal plates helped him head the ball further and more powerful!
Iakovos Iasonidis
39 Posted 03/04/2023 at 15:11:39
Epitome of mediocrity. Keane is exactly the type of player quality and mentally wise Everton is full with. A ledger that keeps this team down. one of many unfortunately...
Danny Broderick
40 Posted 03/04/2023 at 16:29:25
Ben (36),

I think Tarkowski was Keane’s replacement at Burnley. I’m pretty sure he broke into the team once we signed Keane…

My opinion of Keane is that he is not easy on the eye, but I always think back to that season under Silva when we finished the season strongly. We had Keane and Zouma in central defence, and they were a good partnership.

Dyche was a centre half himself, and he is putting his faith in Keane at the minute.

I don’t think he’s a bad player, but the caveat is that he can only play in a defence where he is basically defending his box all game. Any attempt to play a high line exposes him.

While Dyche is in charge, I think Keane will suit his system. I think it’s slightly harsh on Coady, but his form was up and down, and Keane has done ok in the last few games…

Tony Abrahams
41 Posted 03/04/2023 at 16:48:00
Harry Kane is always going to drop deep, so it is very important that our central defenders don’t get pulled into no man’s land. Gibbs-White pulled Keane into no man’s land the other week, and suddenly Forest were level.

I remember thinking after about ten minutes of the Arsenal game, that although Gana Gueye, hadn’t touched the ball, he was holding his position, and everyone else was also playing with discipline and keeping their shape, and if we are going to get anything tonight, I think that’s exactly how we have got to play?

Danny O’Neill
42 Posted 03/04/2023 at 17:02:44
I think so Tony.

Don't get drawn and pulled out of shape because Kane with "cheat". I don't mean that in the sinister sense, but as you say he will drop deep to entice the centre backs to follow and leave space behind.

Mike Gaynes
43 Posted 03/04/2023 at 17:10:03
Ray, your recollection is correct. They spent very little time on the pitch together at Burnley. They've already played more games together for us than they did there.
Alan J Thompson
44 Posted 03/04/2023 at 17:15:07
Ben(#36); What lazy rhetoric? I merely stated that I didn't think they played together at Burnley and Ray(30) thought that Tarkowski was brought in as Keane's replacement. If anything we both stated the same as you did, or are you saying your posting is lazy rhetoric?
David Bromwell
45 Posted 03/04/2023 at 17:23:35
Everton's big problem with our centre backs is that they are all right sided players which means that the one who plays on the left is always at a disadvantage. To be fair to Tarkowski he has done well there and would be my player of the season, however, he would be at his best on the right hand side. For most of his time at EFC, Keane has played on the left where his lack of pace is exposed. On the right he is a much better defender.

In respect to the other three contenders they all have obvious faults and I would expect at least two of them to be moved on in the summer. Let's hope we can keep hold of Branthwaite as he and Tarkowski look like an excellent partnership.

As for tonight both centre backs will need to be at their very best. Here's hoping !!

Nick Armitage
46 Posted 03/04/2023 at 22:08:06
I've always rated Keane. World class.
Jamie Sweet
47 Posted 03/04/2023 at 22:37:53
As I said in post 23 Nick - possibly one of the very best ball playing centre halves of this generation.

Can big Virg do that? I don't think so!

Rob Jones
48 Posted 05/04/2023 at 10:00:44
If this comments section is indicative of the fanbase as a whole, I'd hate to be an Everton player. All most of the fans do is bitch about our own players.
Danny O’Neill
49 Posted 05/04/2023 at 10:08:24
World Class is a bit strong Nick.

Man of the match on Monday and joint man of the match against Chelsea.

World class is reserved for the likes of Cruyff, Maradona and Messi.

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