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Everton 2022-2023 Report Cards: Centre-Backs Part 2 - Keane, Godfrey, Holgate

The case for the defence, how did the backup trio of central defenders do last season?


With part one covering Messrs Tarkowski, Coady and Mina, it is now time to look at the other trio of centre-backs Everton used in the 2022-23 season. With a number of bodies to call upon this campaign, and with some being deployed in other areas when required, it would perhaps suggest that the Blues may not consider this area as one of priority when it comes to strengthening, particularly as Jarrad Branthwaite appears to be heading back to Goodison.

However with two of three players covered yesterday having already departed or about to leave the Club, it may be an area of interest to Dyche.

And does the quality of Everton’s quantity need improving in the central defensive area? Let’s see:

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Michael Keane

Largely a forgotten man under Frank Lampard, the 30-year-old enjoyed a resurgence when reunited with Sean Dyche, with the former Burnley boss relying on his Claret and Blue duo of Keane and James Tarkowski. Indeed, keane was vocal in his praise for Dyche, having stated that Lampard had told him that the former Chelsea manager was not going to tell him what to improve.

Apart from 22 minutes against Brentford in August, the rest of Keane’s playing time came under Dyche, with varying degrees of success. A defender who is capable of playing out from the back, it certainly made sense on paper to reignite the partnership of he and Tarkowski.

The former Manchester United star didn’t collect one yellow or red card in the league all season and had a tackling success rate of 57%, but would only feature in one league win during a run of 11 consecutive games. Obviously, he can’t be solely blamed for that miserable run, but it has been questioned whether Keane has the necessary toughness and concentration to succeed as a Premier League centre back for Everton.

On a plus note, the England international’s wonder strike against Spurs rescued a priceless point for his team as they ultimately beat the drop, but will it be enough to convince Dyche that he is the man to drive his team forward from the back?

Grade: D+ (does earn the + for the Spurs goal but needs to show more)

Everton FC v Fulham FC - Premier League Photo by Emma Simpson - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images

Ben Godfrey

A fractured fibula sustained in the curtain raiser against Chelsea derailed any real progress to the player who was named the fans’ Young Player of the season in his opening campaign for Everton. Godfrey would not make a league return until Boxing Day, coming on as a second half sub in the Toffees 2-1 defeat to Wolves.

Of the 13 Premier League fixtures the former Norwich City man featured in, only three saw him start as a centre back and none of those starts came under Sean Dyche, who utilised Godfrey as a full back cover before omitting him completely from the squad for the remaining five league games.

The former York City’s final game of the campaign for Everton was a 4-1 defeat at home to Newcastle, with Godfrey’s performance coming in for a lot of criticism.

Although a committed tackler and possessing bags of pace, Godfrey’s weakness in passing the ball forward may curtail his chances of being a full back, and he may have to settle for being the utility man across the backline.

A season highlight for Godfrey would have to be getting under the skin of Erling Haaland. The Norwegian forward and Premier League top scorer did find the net in the 1-1 draw at the Etihad, but was clearly irked by the close attention paid to him by his marker for the day.

At only 25 and with an unlucky injury record, there is still time for the England U-21 star to play his way into Dyche’s plans, but there is a long road and much hard work ahead of him if he is to be a first-team regular.

Grade E (Erling aside, not a season he will remember fondly)

Everton FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Mason Holgate

The former Barnsley man started Everton’s first four fixtures of the season, as Frank Lampard toyed with the idea of a back three. A knee injury would then keep Holgate out until October, before the 26-year-old would fall down the pecking order.

Holgate would not feature in the league until March, coming on as sub in a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal. A player often considered too confident and headstrong, Holgate played at right-back against Crystal Palace and would see red at Selhurst Park after getting a second yellow card for a rash challenge on 80 minutes.

Despite the red and his often rash nature, Holgate scored a success rate of 64% of tackles he made throughout the season.

The Doncaster-born defender would next feature at left-back against Manchester City in another Everton loss, before making his eighth, and final, league appearance of the season when he was a first-half substitute at Molineux.

Grade F (for heaven’s sake think first, Mason)