Insight into Michael Keane’s loan spell at Burnley

by Sam Peoples

Prior to Michael Keane’s excellent performance in Burnley’s 1-0 win over Southampton this weekend, we got the opportunity to speak to Chris Boden and Suzanne Geldard about Keane’s loan spell.

It offers some great insight into how he is getting on, how the local press feel he has got on and what his future plans could be.

Thank you to Chris and Suzanne for both taking their time to answer our questions.

Hello Chris. Please introduce yourself to the readers.

Hi, I’m Chris Boden, and I’ve been covering Burnley for the town’s paper, the Burnley Express, for over 20 years now.

How has Michael Keane done so far at Burnley?

He’s done relatively well, he’s had to be patient – the centre back pairing of Duff and Shackell helped Burnley form the meanest defence in the Championship last season, and keep four clean sheets so far this year in the Premier League.

But when Duff hurt his calf at Stoke, Keane came on and helped preserve the lead, making a couple of critical interventions. He’s started three games since, and although he played Joe Cole onside for Villa’s goal, and will feel he could have got tighter to Papiss Cisse and Charlie Austin when they scored, he will only learn from that experience. He has generally been composed in possession and dominant in the air, and looks a real prospect.

What are your thoughts on him as a person both on and off the pitch?

I’ve spoken to him three or four times now, and, like on the pitch, he is composed and unflustered. He handled himself well particularly when it became apparent he would probably have been starting for United, but was on the bench at Burnley, expressing disappointment, but showing his patience and respect for the manager’s decision and the senior players ahead of him.

I’ve been hugely impressed with the way he’s handled bigger, more formal press interviews – a change something not all the players have enjoyed this season – and he’s generally been quite forthright and engaging.


Michael Keane has had only 2 starts and 1 substitute appearance so far. Why hasn’t he been involved with the first team until very recently?

Quite simply the form of Duff and Shackell. People might see that the side have conceded goals on occasion – 15 in five games earlier in the season – but generally the framework has been quite secure, and four clean sheets can’t be sniffed at. Burnley are built on organisation and a secure base as their defensive record showed last season, and Dyche was loyal to those who helped achieve promotion, and had a good understanding of what he wanted from the side. Duff has vast experience and knowhow he’s never let Burnley down in 11 seasons at the club after signing for £30,000 from Cheltenham Town – while Shackell has led by example and, statistically, has been one of the better performing defenders in the Premier League so far this season.

Keane has been in the press expressing his disappointment at not being at United now when there are so many opportunities. Do you get the feeling he doesn’t want to be at Burnley?

Not at all, I think he accepts the overall picture, that he would have to wait for his opportunity, given the form of Shackell and Duff over 12 months or so, and once in the side, it was up to him to stay there. Duff is nearing fitness again, so we will see what pans out there, but I just think there’s an honesty about Keane. Anyone would be disappointed about missing out on the opportunities he has at Old Trafford, but maybe in the long term it will benefit him more playing in a side that has to defend more than United will.

Do you see a long term future for Keane at Manchester United?

He has every chance of making the grade, from what I’ve seen with Burnley, and England Under 21s. It just depends on the manager’s recruitment plans – although he has obviously shown over the years he isn’t scared of turning to youth. A permanent move to Burnley was mooted as a possibility at the time of his loan, but, again, United would have to make that decision.

If you had to choose one characteristic of Keane you like the most, what would it be and why?

I’ve spoken about his composure, and that would be what I’ve been most impressed with. Dyche often talks about not getting too high with the highs, or too low with the lows, and on and off the pitch, that cool head will be a major asset.

Should United fans expect to see more of Keane in action with Burnley as the season goes on?

His loan runs out next month, so we’ll see whether the deal is extended, but, in the meantime, he is the man in possession of the shirt, at a busy time of the season…

Hi Suzanne. Please introduce yourself to the readers.

Hi, I’m Suzanne Geldard of the Lancashire Telegraph. I’ve covered Burnley for the paper for the last eight years.

Has Michael Keane settled in well at Burnley?

Making up a trio of England Under 21 internationals at the club gave him a base to build from and helped him to ease into new surroundings. He instantly provided competition for places, keeping Jason Shackell and Michael Duff on top of their games.

What do the fans think of him?

It’s only recently that they’ve been able to see what he can offer the team, following injury to Michael Duff. Coming off the bench at Stoke was a difficult environment for him to come into but he played his part in Burnley’s first away win and earned praise from captain Shackell. Similarly he impressed in draws with Aston Villa and Newcastle.

Will there be new signings in defence in January? Do you see Keane extending his loan?

Money has been set aside to spend in the transfer window and I’d expect Sean Dyche will look to strengthen in all areas. Whether that leads to Keane extending his stay will depend on Manchester United’s squad situation and whether they are willing to let him out again, and also whether Keane is open to that. He might prefer to stay at Old Trafford and fight for his place, given the opportunities he has missed there in the first half of the season.

How do the coaching staff and Sean Dyche rate Keane?

I don’t think they have ever doubted his ability to play in the team. Had there been any question marks over his capabilities in the Premier League then he wouldn’t have been
earmarked as a target. The only reason he’s had to wait for his opportunity is a Duff-Shackell partnership that went unbroken for 12 months.

What has Keane been saying in the local press of late other than to express his disappointment of not being at United as Louis van Gaal is giving so many youngsters an opportunity?

He’s only been more open about his frustrations after getting his chance in Burnley’s starting XI. He feels that he was ready to make the step up after as few spells in the Championship and now he’s glad to have the opportunity to prove it, although accepts that he is still learning and there is room for improvement.

If you had to choose one characteristic of Keane you like the most, what would it be and why?

I’d probably say his conscientiousness. Despite naturally wondering what might have been had he stayed at Old Trafford he’s just kept his head down and quietly got on with things and now he’s got his chance and he’s taking it.

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