Everton have struggled all over the pitch this season, but it was another defensive howler that presented Manchester City’s Phil Foden the opportunity to score the winning goal at the weekend, after a solid display elsewhere on the pitch.
Blues manager Frank Lampard refused to criticise the culprit, Michael Keane, for his major error, but the 12-time England international also failed to make a single tackle in the game – as well as the previous two before that.
The 29-year-old also made an error leading to a goal in the game before that against Southampton – not long after making another two mistakes which could have also resulted in the net bulging on another day.
Perhaps lacking in confidence, Keane is in danger to be axed and replaced, with players like left-footed youngster Jarrad Branthwaite waiting in the wings and desperate for another opportunity.
Lampard is known for bringing through players from the youth teams when he feels they are ready, and Branthwaite, who has already made three appearances this season in all competitions, scoring one Premier League goal too, could be next in line.
It’s a signal of a remarkable decline from a player, who once was arguably the most in-form English defender during his last season at Burnley, before making the £25.6m move to Merseyside.
One Everton journalist also suggested last year that Keane would be difficult to sell, after having “regressed awfully.” Indeed, it’s very difficult to argue against that assessment.
Most clubs now are preferring to have a left-footed centre-back in their team, alongside their right-footer, and with Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate both having stronger right feet, it would make sense to give more chances to Branthwaite – who would also likely gain a significant market valuation boost after a run of games.
With the Toffees hovering dangerously right above the relegation zone at the moment, it’s likely that Lampard will be forced into being ruthless and dropping players who are out-of-form – with Keane one of the most likely to be axed in the not so distant future.