During his career Roy Keane cemented himself, in Manchester United folk law, as an absolute legend. On the pitch he was a midfield hard man that drenched himself in blood, sweat and success. As a manager he remains a hard man, but the word ‘success’ is a far less accurate in describing his forays into the dugout.
His managerial life began bright enough with Sunderland in 2006. With the team languishing in 23rd position, Keane oversaw a complete overturn of fortunes and achieved promotion to the Premier League as champions.
The following season Keane also managed to ensure survival in England’s top flight. Many footballing minds were beginning to tip him as a future Old Trafford successor to Sir Alex Ferguson. Maybe this mantle weighed too heavily on the outspoken Irishman’s shoulders, as his impressive building blocks began to crumble.
The mistakes began when he continued to purchase Manchester United rejects and half of the Scottish Premier League in his bid to establish Sunderland as a Premiership team.
His master plan of buying quantity rather than quality knocked Keane painfully to his feet. With the Black Cats in the relegation zone he walked away. He didn’t stay in the wilderness for long, and after a brief spell of regularly walking his Labrador Retrievers, he substituted strolls in the woodland for the pull of a team with an appealing country name; the ‘Tractor Boys.’
With Ipswich Town he worked under the job description of bringing the club back to the big time and restoring the Bobby Robson glory days.
Faced with a new challenge Keane adopted the same strategy that had served him so well in the Championship the first time around. But his forays into Scotland, for essentially Irish players, didn’t prove fruitful. Ipswich finished 15th in his first season before he was sacked the following season with the club in 21st position.
Since his sacking in January 2011, Keane has retaken to aggressively walking his dogs and has also spent his free time as a pundit for ITV. Why do TV executives think that failed football managers make excellent candidates for analysing the sport anyway? It seems somewhat ironic.
Not content with lounging in a swivel chair whilst shooting scowls in the direction of Patrick Vieira, Gareth Southgate or Adrian Chiles, he has reportedly told friends that he is eager to get back pitch side.
The intimidating battle fields of Turkish football now seem to be offering him a route back. Istanbul based Kasimpasa are coming under wealthy investment and apparently see the Manchester United messiah as the high profile name that will bring the club their first ever league title.
For a team that has just returned to Turkey’s top division it seems a huge risk. Apart from a summer holiday, appearances in the Champions League, and outings with Ireland’s national squad, it’s hard to see what knowledge Keane would possess of Turkish football culture.
He famously became angered by the ‘prawn sandwich’ eating United fans, what will occur if his new fan’s peel back the foil on a Turkish Kebab at half time?
Whatever happens I pray that Roy has learnt from his mistakes and resists the urge to raid the Manchester United slush pile, or the Scottish leagues, for an overhaul of talent.
But they say football is a funny old game, maybe this move will work for him? Off the pitch it would be nice to see him reach just half of the glorious success that he achieved on it.
image: © joncandy