The renaissance of Michael Keane at Everton over the past twelve months is
representative of Marco Silva’s good work at the club
Think back to the 3 rd March 2018, Everton had just been humbled 2-1 by Burnley and
the knives were out for the then manager Sam Allardyce and Micheal Keane. Keane
had arrived from Burnley the previous summer, brought in by Ronald Koeman and
Steve Walsh to add a youthful presence to an ageing defence.
Keane, himself, struggled initially under Koeman, having to adapt to a slow build up
style of play, from a limited, direct but effective system under Sean Dyche. Injuries
also blighted his form under Koeman, as well as having to rectify the mistakes being
made from Ashley Williams to the left of him, and Cuco Martina to the right of him. It
was a recipe for disaster. Koeman went, but Keane’s short term problems never.
By description, Micheal Keane, is a no-nonsense, throwback of a defender, who’s
best work is done defending in a narrow block, and clearing danger. So therefore,
you would have thought that Keane would have thrived under incoming manager
Sam Allardyce. Allardyce has always preferred to use this system, especially when
taking on struggling clubs. So in Allardyce’s initial spell, his selection of Mason
Holgate and Ashley Williams as a pair, was baffling.
Ashley Williams, arguably suited this, but his time at Swansea was one of pragmatic
football. Gary Monk, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup, played possession
football at Swansea. Indeed, Ronald Koeman in his first season at Everton, (tried) to
play slow build up football, and whilst often mixing it up with a diagonal to Lukaku,
the arrival of Morgan Schneiderlin helped his side to keep the ball. Therefore,
Allardyce’s inclusion of Williams instead of Keane, thwarting his development, was
What was even more insane was the inclusion of Mason Holgate in place of Keane.
Mason Holgate can be prone to a lapse in concentration and ostensibly useless in a
low block. Yet, Allardyce chose Williams and Holgate to get the club out of the mire,
leaving Keane in a difficult position after a big money move in the summer of 2017.
Fast forward about three months and Everton, safe from relegation travelled to high
flying Burnley. Unusually, Allardyce selected Michael Keane to partner Ashley
Williams. Williams’ limitations, exacerbated the extent of Keane’s poor performance.
Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood gave Keane a torrid time. Despite his well known
injury troubles and despite the obvious deficiencies in Allardyce’s management of
the team, there was little sympathy for Keane.
After a rather mundane end to the season for Keane, not making any glaring errors,
Sam Allardyce, to the delight of many, lost his job as manager. A new start for
After new manager Marco Silva brought in Yerry Mina for big money and Kurt Zouma
on loan, doubts were raised over the future of Keane, as a long term starter for
Since then, the improvements in Keane’s game has been huge. When you think
back to his performances under Allardyce when he looked lost and in need of
guidance, he now looks composed and a leader alongside Yerry Mina. That is,
mainly due to the man management of Marco Silva.
The main plaudit I can give Silva is that he is a fantastic man manager. Forget
anything else, players adore Silva. I can not think of a single player who has played
for Marco Silva who has said anything negative about him. In fact, even Troy
Deeney, who has been critical of Silva’s time at Watford, has said that Marco Silva is
the best coach he has worked with. Ryan Mason, who now does TV punditry has
said Silva is as good as Pochettino and that he gave Hull purpose. Therefore, it is a
surprise to no one that Keane’s game has come on since his arrival at Everton.
Michael Keane is only one example of an Everton player coming good under Marco
Silva. Alex Iwobi was known for a poor end product at Arsenal. He has two in three
games in a Everton shirt. Richarlison did not score a goal when Marco Silva left
Watford, he is now known for his potency in front of goal. The list is endless.
Marco Silva is incrementally improving Everton as a whole by improving the form of
players like Michael Keane and adding a different element to their game in a way
previous managers were not able to. Given more time in this season and you will
surely see Everton improve once more, for Keane and Everton.