Kevin De Bruyne and England manager Gareth Southgate have spoken in defence of Kyle Walker after Roy Keane’s criticism. Walker was heavily criticised by the former Manchester United centre-back for giving away penalties. He fouled Sadio Mane in the box to hand Liverpool the advantage against City when the two sides squared up at the Etihad Stadium penultimate Sunday.
However, De Bruyne and Southgate came to Walker’s defence in recent interviews while responding to criticism directed at the City right-back for his mistakes. The Belgian was surprised at such criticism as he believes Walker has been one of City’s best players in the last few years.
“I think from the moment that Kyle came to the team, he’s been one of the most consistent performers with us,” De Bruyne said.
“He’s never injured, he plays all the time. He’s reliable and he’s a really good defender. I think the job that he does is a really good job.
“Obviously when you compare every position it’s different. You can’t compare the work that Kyle does to, for instance, Trent [Alexander-Arnold] at Liverpool. Trent is the more offensive player and Kyle has to play a different role for us, but he does it really well and there’s a reason why he’s playing all these years at this level for all these teams. It means he’s been really good.
“Okay, what Roy Keane says...he’s a different man and everybody knows that. But, okay, it’s his opinion and he’ll take it on the chin. He’s going to be fine with it.”
On his part, England manager Southgate extolled Walker’s virtues and expressed satisfaction with his performance for both club and country.
“I think he’s playing extremely well. Observations and analysis are fine, I think personal criticism less so, I think we have to be careful about that,” Southgate stated in response to the criticism.
”I’m very happy with what Walker is doing. He’s playing every game for his club because the manager trusts him and feels he needs him so if he’s doing that for Pep it’s an indication of the quality.”
Walker has been a key player for City since moving to the club from Tottenham in 2017. He is usually an ever-present name on the team sheet for manager Pep Guardiola in both Premier League and Champions League football.
The 30-year-old featured in 33 of City’s 38 league matches in the 2018/19 campaign helping the team retain the title. Although that was reduced to 29 last term as Joao Cancelo was given some game time, he has played all of City’s seven league games this term. In fact, he has been so good the manager has decided to play in-form Cancelo out of position to accommodate both players in the line up.
While Keane had at point in holding the right-back accountable for his mistakes, he went overboard with the criticism, even calling him “an idiot”. But Walker will do well to ignore such and concentrate on giving good performances. He will need to learn from the experience and respond by doing better on the pitch.