A short stint as a Celtic player was memorable, if not exactly successful, for Roy Keane. Having been released by Manchester United, the Irish midfielder ventured north of the border to play for the club he’d supported as a boy. Keane, however, was only in Scotland for six months before retiring from the game, having struggled to make his mark.
15 years on and there is widespread speculation that Roy Keane could be on his way back to Celtic, this time as manager. The Hoops are in the market for a new boss following the departure of Neil Lennon and the former Republic of Ireland international has reportedly spoken to the club about potentially taking over this summer.
Celtic are in need of a cultural overhaul, but Keane would be the wrong man for the job. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a candidate less suited to the role than the former midfielder. He is only on the club’s shortlist due to the clout of his name. There is nothing in Keane’s managerial record to suggest he would turn the Hoops around.
A full decade has passed since Keane was last a manager in his own right. At Ipswich Town, the Irishman won just 28 of the 81 matches he took charge of, leaving the club fighting for their place in the English Championship at the time of his dismissal in January 2011. The Tractor Boys went backwards under Keane.
He enjoyed more success in his first managerial post at Sunderland, winning promotion to the Premier League in 2007, but Keane’s management methods sparked tension in the dressing room and results soon started to slide. When the Irishman resigned midway through his second season, players reportedly celebrated the news.
In more than one way, Keane is yesterday’s man. This is even evident in his comments and tone as a television pundit, placing an emphasis on intangible character traits like hunger and fight. Football has moved on, but Keane hasn’t. He stands as the embodiment of the way the sport used to be.
As a TV personality, there’s no doubting Keane’s value. He is an entertaining character with bold views but such abrasiveness has counted against him as a manager. Players in the modern era require more careful man-management and this is an area where he is desperately lacking. While Roy Keane would likely electrify Celtic, the current might fry everyone at the club.
Structurally, Celtic are similarly stuck in the past. They hope to change this with a new regime at the end of the season. Interviews have reportedly already taken place with Director of Football candidates following the creation of the role. A new chief executive will also be installed this summer as Peter Lawwell steps aside after 18 years at the helm.
These changes should be reflected in the appointment of a forward-thinking, modern manager. Jesse Marsch has been mentioned as a potential candidate, although it’s unclear whether the Red Bull Salzburg boss would entertain a move to Scotland amid links with several Bundesliga clubs. Nonetheless, Marsch is of the mould Celtic should be aiming to forge their next manager from.
This summer presents Celtic with a crossroads in their recent history as a club. Nine successive league titles saw the Hoops establish themselves as Scottish football’s dominant force for a generation. Now, though, the balance of power has shifted with Steven Gerrard’s Rangers setting a new precedent.
Rangers aren’t just leading the way on the pitch. Their sporting structure has given Gerrard the framework to succeed as manager and that’s what Celtic need to install as soon as possible to give them a chance of recovery. Roy Keane might appease those fans who solely want a big name to rival that of Gerrard’s on the other side of the divide but he’s unlikely to deliver what Celtic truly need to get back to the top.
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