Whatever about Keane’s achievements as a player, his record as a manager is anything but stellar. Yes, the Cork man got Sunderland promoted at the end of his first season in charge of the club back in 2007. That promotion was won with a record budget for a club playing in England’s second tier however.
Aside from that there hasn’t been a whole lot of positives to take from the former Manchester United captain’s time in the dugout, with regular bust ups with players and slanging matches being regular events throughout his stints in charge of both the Black Cats and the Tractor Boys. Fellow Corkonian and a man Keane signed for Ipswich, Damien Delaney spoke of the relief felt throughout the club in the immediate aftermath of Keane’s departure back in early January 2011.
The 41 year-old remains convinced that he can improve player performance and be successful in management. The problem for him however is that fewer and fewer football chairmen appear to share that opinion.
Over the past two weeks, three Championship clubs; Nottingham Forest, Blackburn and Wolves, all showed their manager the door. Each of these clubs have great histories, fine stadia as well as strong and vociferous fan bases. Each of the clubs have underachieved once again this season (with the latter two having been relegated from the Premier League last season) and could have done with some tough love which Keane would undoubtedly bring to the table. Not one of those clubs made any enquiry whatsoever into the possibility of Keane taking over though.
Wolves would have seemed a realistic option for Keane, but instead hierarchy at Molineux this week chose Dean Saunders to take over at the west midlands club. At the end of last season Dean Saunders took Doncaster Rovers down to League One so being an elite manager was hardly a criteria for the Molineux board.
Other jobs will come up over the coming weeks. Alan Pardew at Newcastle, Lee Clark at Birmingham and Dougie Freedam at Bolton Wanderers are all currently struggling and under pressure in their jobs. These are all proper clubs with vast and impressive infrastructure and fanbases. They are clubs that have endured an extreme paucity of success over recent years. Their allure would appeal to Keane but would he appeal to the chairmen of these clubs?
At this stage, the longer time goes by the less likely it is that Keane will garner a plum managerial role. He will know that this will likely levitate him towards a job which he once would have no desire to undertake; that is the role as manager of his national team.
Some would argue that Keane has too many enemies – both within the upper echelons of the FAI as well as among fans to land Irish football’s top job. Keane of course does also have plenty of supporters. The Republic of Ireland are set to play Austria and Sweden at the end of March in a pair of pivotal World Cup qualifiers.
If those ties go pear shaped for the Boys in Green, the nation’s interest in the 2014 World Cup will be effectively over and Giovanni Trapattoni could well be out of a job. Mick McCarthy, Chris Hughton and Brian McDermott would all have their backers for the job. So too would Keane. Just who would have enough backing to land the job could be a much closer race than anyone – aside from those closest to the action – might realise.