Category: Archive

Soccer Roundup: That’s all?

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

While there were agreed diplomatic reactions to the news that Keane’s contract at the club he had served with such distinction for nearly 13 years had been terminated, all the polite quotes from both club and player concealed the truth.
The reality is that for some time, Keane has been walking a tightrope at the club. When he was one of the world’s most dynamic midfielders, and when he was leading United to trophy after trophy, he was in a stronger position to criticize his teammates.
But now at 34 and past his prime, he was finding it harder to back up his views on how the team was in decline with those skilful, aggressive performances of old.
Once joined at the hip with United’s legendary manager, Alex Ferguson, who had defended his captain through thick and thin, the relationship had come under increased strain. There was a fall-out last summer during a training camp in Portugal, and then Keane was not taken on a tour of Asia.
More recently, he saw fit to launch a blistering attack on several United players on the club’s dedicated television channel, and when the program was censored by Ferguson, Keane was called in to explain his comments to his teammates. That meeting soon generated into a full-on confrontation with Ferguson and his assistant Carlos Queiroz on one side, and Keane on the other.
Less than a fortnight later, when the news broke that Keane’s United career was being terminated by “mutual consent,” it also emerged that earlier he had been stripped of the captaincy and he was informed that his contract which ended at the end of this season was not going to be renewed.
At one stage indispensable, with seven Premiership titles, three FA Cups and a League Cup to his name, Ferguson no longer needed his talisman.
Predictably, there was to be no goodbyes, no handshakes and no bearhugs. Civil war is always the most bitter of conflicts.
Even though he has so far preferred to maintain a dignified silence about the end of the affair, it almost certain that Keane will want to continue playing for another season. He has said in the past that he wanted to finish his career at Glasgow Celtic, and the Scottish club have already made their interest public, while Premiership clubs including Manchester City, Portsmouth and Bolton, as well as one unspecified Spanish club have also said they want to make contact with the player’s agent.
It is possible that Keane might not want to play for any club against Manchester United, and that would make a move to Scotland more appealing, and given that he has five school-going children in Manchester, it is less likely that he would be tempted by an offer from Spain or Italy.
The sudden split from United has also opened up a raft of speculation linking Keane to the Ireland manager’s job, which has been recently vacated by Brian Kerr after the team’s failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals.
In the past, Keane has expressed a desire to go into coaching, but it is hard to see him choosing Ireland as his first staging post.
Writing in Ireland’s Sunday Tribune newspaper last weekend, Liam Brady criticized Keane for his “appalling behaviour” both of late at United and during the infamous bust-up with Mick McCarthy at the 2002 World Cup, but he finished his column as follows: “He has been as good for Manchester United as Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, George Best and Bryan Robson were.”
No one was arguing with that. This parting of the ways is truly the end of an era for soccer in Britain and Ireland.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese