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Duncan Ferguson offers odd explanation for Moise Kean substitution

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Manager explains why he took off the youngster after just 18 minutes

Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

A depleted Everton side’s strong effort in a 1-1 draw away at Manchester United is being overshadowed by a bizarre decision late on in the game, and probably rightly so.

Duncan Ferguson introduced Moise Kean for Bernard late on, and though the Italian forward was full of running after coming on, the interim manager decided to pull him off with just minutes to play. Substituting a substitute is not common and usually only injury-enforced. While Kean wasn’t necessarily brilliant in the handful of minutes that he was on the pitch, was it necessary to take him off, you decide.

Kean’s confidence has been at a low with how little Marco Silva was playing him, and he’s still waiting to get his first Everton goal, despite his advanced analytics numbers showing very positively for the youngster.

The teenager has been underperforming both his expected goals and assists, and averages 0.36xG and 0.34xA per 90 min, which gives him a very respectable expected goal contribution of 0.70 goals per 90 minutes played, leading the entire team - if there was ever an argument for him to get playing time, that would be it. Primary striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin lags behind him with 0.60 (0.58xG + 0.02xA), Tosun only has 0.44 (0.38xG + 0.06xA) and Richarlison is at 0.45 (0.31xG + 0.14xA).

To no one’s surprise, Kean walked off incredulously, and the two didn’t even shake hands on the touchline as the 19-year-old went straight down the tunnel. After the game this is what Duncan Ferguson had to say about his decision to pull the teenager off the pitch with the game in the balance -

“You know what, it wasn’t because of Moise Kean’s performance. I just needed to make a substitution to kill a bit of time, that’s all it is.

“I’ve got so many strikers on the bench that I just decided to make that change. It was nothing personal against Moise Kean.”

As a competitive former player, Ferguson will know what that sucker punch feels like. Now on one hand he could be protecting the player after taking him off for what he might feel was not heeding instructions, and we hope for his sake that was his thinking process.

On the other hand though, if it really was random as he’s trying to tell the media, then it was a really poor choice especially considering how Kean has been feeling ignored already.

The drama never ends at Everton.

UPDATE: Ferguson gave more context during his post-match press conference.

“I think that’s understandable, if you’re a sub and you get subbed off. Really I was just looking for fresh legs. Unfortunately he was the one I decided to bring off.

“I can see why he’s upset but it’s about the team isn’t it? I can see why he’s upset. I’ll speak to him.

“I’ll probably see him tomorrow so I’ll mention it to him.”

He also added -

“I thought he struggled to get to the speed of the game at the time.

“I asked him to play centre-forward, then we changed him to the right-hand side which was unfair on him because he’s a centre-forward, and then we put Dominic on the right-hand side and moved him back to centre-forward.

“That was the time I thought I would put on a guy who would maybe handle it a bit better really. It was no slight on Moise Kean, I just wanted to kill a bit of time with the sub.”