Everton Defender Keane Explains Goodison Buzz

Michael Keane says he felt a huge buzz returning to Goodison Park last weekend – and the defender is licking his lips at the prospect of Everton resuming their campaign with a home Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Centre-back Keane and his teammates ended 105 days away from Goodison with a practice match on Saturday when the 27-year-old scored two headed goals.

The England international claimed man-of-the-match honours for a towering display in Everton's scoreless home draw with their city rivals last season.

The latest derby renewal, however – the fixture's 236th edition – will be played without fans in the stadium, a startling contrast to Liverpool's visit last April when the introduction of a pre-match siren heralded 90 minutes of ear-splitting sound.

Keane acknowledges the absence of supporters will create a “strange” atmosphere – but insists the action on the pitch will look and feel like an archetypal derby clash.

“Playing at home, we have to set the tempo early and get stuck in and treat it exactly as we would if the fans were there,” Keane told evertonfc.com.

“Typically at Goodison, if we get in a tackle early, it gets the fans behind us.

“But it also gives the other players a boost, if someone puts in a big tackle it lifts us all, it pushes us onto the front foot and often gets the ball into our opponents’ half.


“None of that will be any different. We need to start well, be on the front foot and positive – and get a foothold in the game from the start.

“I had a good game personally [in last season’s Goodison derby] and we defended really well as a team.

“We know what we are capable of, we have been working on our shape and gameplan for a while and will continue to do that this week.

“Everyone will know their roles inside out come Sunday.

“Then it is about executing those roles, which we know we can do. We have shown that on a lot of occasions.

“We know it’s a big challenge, Liverpool have done very well this year.

“But we will go into the game with confidence, there is no reason why we can’t beat them, especially at our place.”

Keane devoted hours on end to working on his game during football’s coronavirus lockdown and manager Carlo Ancelotti observed that the player “moved really well defensively” in his side’s intra-squad match.


Manchester United product Keane, who is approaching the end of his third Everton campaign, has started 19 Premier League games this season, including three out of four immediately before football was stopped in March.

He completed 90 minutes when Everton drew a frenetic contest with former club United on 1 March, the Blues’ most recent Goodison outing.

There was no getting away from the comparatively hushed mood as Ancelotti oversaw his team’s training game five days ago but that did not detract from Keane’s excitement over being back at the stadium after so long away.

“To be honest, I was just buzzing to be back at Goodison and playing on the pitch,” said Keane, whose side will squeeze nine games into five weeks to complete the 2019/20 season.

“It was brilliant to be in the stadium and I was just very excited to play.

“It was strange being there without the fans but there is a big difference between playing at the training ground and the stadium.

“Being at Goodison gives you an extra burst of energy.

“We are definitely going to miss our fans but it is the same for everyone.

“It was important to have that one game there to get a feel for it and know how it will be.

“You don’t forget there’s no one watching but when the stadium is full you are so focused on your job that you don’t take too much notice of the crowd.

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03:44

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“It is when the ball is out of play, you notice them more.

“And when we are doing well and building momentum the crowd is very loud.

“That noise won’t be there for a while and we have to get used to it.

“We all played in empty stadiums when we were younger, so it will be a throwback to youth-team days.

“Everyone will be fine with it and we will cope well.

“The pitch was perfect and I can’t wait to play a game there now.

“It is going to be strange but everyone has missed playing at Goodison and I am sure it is going to give everyone a lift.”

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09:51 Mon 15 Jun 2020

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A self-confessed football nut, Keane was planning to watch the Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal double-header on Wednesday night which marked the resumption of Premier League football after a break of 100 days.

Keane, signed from Burnley three years ago next month, is keen to see as much action as possible between now and Sunday – both with his fan’s hat on and to study how matches unfold in relatively sterile environments.

“We play football but we are also football fans and have missed watching games as much as the supporters," added Keane, who is two appearances away from reaching a century in all competitions for the Club.

“I couldn’t wait for the games to start on Wednesday and will be watching a lot.

“It will help us get a feel for what the atmosphere will be like.

"We experienced it on Saturday, although there were a few differences – we didn’t use the changing rooms because they are being prepared for the Premier League games, so we left our stuff in the stands and walked onto the pitch.

“Watching competitive Premier League games will give us an even better idea of what to expect.”