IT was the week when one prominent English newspaper opined that Roy Keane had come of age as a pundit. Perhaps it is just as well he has — because it was also the week that yet another of his ex-players bemoaned Keane’s managerial flaws.
Today people know Jordan Rhodes to be a Scottish international striker, who cost Blackburn Rovers £8million when they signed him from Huddersfield Town. What few know is that Keane, when in charge of Ipswich, sold him for £350,000 in 2009.
“It was a blow at the time but in hindsight probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Rhodes on Sunday. “I still don’t know why I was released, though. Roy didn’t give me a reason.”
Four years and 117 goals later, Rhodes, it is fair to say, has handed Keane reason to realise he was wrong. And he isn’t the first player to profit from the Cork man’s rejection. Jon Walters moved on to bigger and better things after a falling out with Keane, as did Gareth McAuley. Both now ply their trade in the Premier League. Surely Keane could have done more to keep them sweet when he was trying to get Ipswich out of the Championship?
Promotion was what he achieved in his previous tenure at Sunderland — but despite that solid beginning to his managerial career, it was downhill thereafter. And again, hindsight has questioned Keane’s judgement. Early in his reign, he sold Steven Caldwell for just £200,000. The Scot has since played for his country, won a promotion to the Premier League with Burnley and proved to be worth a hell of a lot more than the sum Keane sold him for. Likewise, Liam Lawrence. Cast aside from Sunderland, he went on to become a major player for Ireland in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, while his club career also moved forward. He scored the goal that got Stoke promoted.
The list goes on. Kelvin Davies was offloaded within a month of Keane’s Wearside arrival in 2006 — but has played 283 first-team games since, a hell of a lot more than the keepers Keane subsequently brought to the Stadium of Light, Martin Fulop and Craig Gordon.
Those were two of 23 players Keane bought in his three-year tenure at Sunderland. Of that number, only Phil Bardsley and Kieren Richardson are still there, a reflection of his short-sightedness in the transfer market.
So given his record in management, is he fit to be so outspoken a pundit? Certainly he is entertaining, and thankfully unafraid of Alex Ferguson, unlike practically every other human that comes across him.
But Ferguson’s record in the dug-out is beyond dispute. Keane’s record has led him into Adrian Chiles’ company.