2018-19 Everton Centre Backs
Marco Silva rarely strayed from a back four last season, either in a 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 formation. He occasionally dabbled with a back three but given the personnel at his disposal I’d be surprised if he tries it again this campaign.
The four defenders are then expected to pressure the opponents when they are in possession and hold a high line alongside attacking full-backs, with a defensive midfielder, previously Idrissa Gueye but now likely to be Jean-Philippe Gbamin, providing a screen in front of them
I have to admit I had reservations about Michael Keane going into last season after a shaky debut campaign. As well as looking totally drained of confidence he was also painfully slow on the turn (Burnley away, March 2018, like an oil tanker) and so seemed ill-suited to Silva’s high-pressing tactics.
Thankfully all my fears were proved ill founded as Keane appeared revived and revitalised, even earning his place back in the England squad. He is certainly going to be first choice again this campaign.
A difficult first season at Goodison for the Colombian, largely down to injury. He was only able to make his debut in November following a foot injury that lingered from the World Cup while a hamstring strain meant he started just two games from February until the end of the season. Like Keane, he deserves the chance to prove himself having had a year to settle in.
Holgate is back at the club following a six-month spell on loan at West Brom in the Championship. By all accounts he impressed for the Baggies in a right-back role so it remains to be seen where Marco Silva views his best position upon his return. His versatility means he could be a useful player to have in the squad, though speculation linking him with a £8m move away suggests he may not have a long-term future at Goodison Park.
State of the position
There remains a giant Kurt Zouma-shaped hole in the defence and despite their efforts the club were unable to fill it with last season’s much-loved loanee. That left them scrabbling around for other options on deadline day but in the end no-one came in. That leaves them worryingly short of numbers, with the pressure on Keane and Mina to both perform and stay fit. On the other hand, it is a huge opportunity for Holgate and youngster Lewis Gibson to step up and show they can perform at the highest level. Another option is for new signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin to drop back into defence, where he started his career. That would then rely on Morgan Schneiderlin recapturing his early Everton form in midfield.