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Keane's gone to the dogs

Robbo Robson | 09:41 UK time, Friday, 24 April 2009

Word has it that the real driving force behind Roy Keane's move to Ipswich was his dogs. They've been pestering needy clubs up and down the country in the hope that the Cork Clogger will stop making them gambol all over Cheshire.

"It's all that horrible growling and barking I can't stand", said one mutt. "We just want to let him off the leash so he can get rid of some of that excess energy," he added.

There's already been some worries voiced by Suffolkians but the dogs have been quick to reassure them. "Obviously we wouldn't dream of letting him in to the county without his muzzle on, but we've got great confidence that he'll thrive at Ipswich - he's always chasing tractors back home, as it happens."

Experienced Keane-watchers will be eyeing up his facial growth as a barometer of the great man's well-being. That unruly beard at the Stadium of Plight was so unpleasant that men sat in doorways with bottles of cider in brown paper bags were offering sober words of sympathy for the man.
Roy Keane
I realise it's rare for me to be showing any interest in a Championship side and I'm sure some of you smart alecs'll be telling me I'm eyeing up next season's opponents. But I wonder about Keane.

Man U fans'll tell you he never took a backward step on the pitch - and opponents'll tell you that they could barely take a forward one after playing against him. But off the pitch he seems altogether flakier to me.

He was sent home from the World Cup, after lamenting that Mick McCarthy wasn't even '(expletive deleted) Irish' - as if (a) having an Irish manager had ever served the Republic well before, and (b) it mattered a jot during Jack Charlton's time where the hell anyone was from as long as his crack squad of genealogists could prove some sort of Hibernian link. (I think Ray Houghton's granny once got stuck at Rosslare ferry terminal overnight and Tony Cascarino's great uncle once bought a bottle of poteen - that was enough for big Jack.)

'Course, McCarthy has taken Wolves up so that's delayed a steely touchline handshake for another season. Actually, with Mick 'n' Roy it'd be no handshake at all or one that went on for about 10 minutes, with a simultaneous staring competition.

The way Keane shuffled out of Sunderland doesn't bode all that well for the Tractor Boys either. And in both these cases, the mess he left was tidied up reasonably well - Ireland went on to do OK in 2002 and Sbragia's Sunderland will stay up despite many of Keane's purchases being very questionable.

Man United didn't suffer too greatly either when they offloaded him after he became more and more like the crotchety uncle no one wanted to talk to at the family dos.

This hasn't stopped the chief executive at Ipswich and the ambitious chairman from hailing Keane's arrival as a massive moment. We've already been pummelled by lots of chest-thumping from the pair of them.

The buzzwords are 'ambition' and 'potential'. But it's clear what Keane really brings to a football club. Matt Holland said it: "The fear factor."

That's right. Save for his bouts of unforgivable malice Roy was a great player. But most of all he was right scary. A Keano 'hard stare' makes Paddington's look downright girly. If Fergie uses the hairdryer what does Roy resemble? The jet engine off a Tornado?

In any case, what's so great about a manager being terrifying? If that was the object of the exercise, the top three managers in the Premiership would be Anne Widdecombe, Sly Stallone's Mum and - well, OK - and Ferguson.

I grew up with the Ipswich team of Beattie, Butcher, Osman, Thijssen, Muhren, Wark, Brazil, Gates and - confusingly - Mariner (all that guile, nous and quick feet and your centre forward's a great dopy lunk with all the subtlety of a Peter Reid team talk). Top side, that one, mind. And you could hardly call their gaffer a monster - Bobby Robson.

It's hard not to feel sorry for Magilton, who appears to have got a little stressed-out this season. But with two games to go and Norwich almost condemned to the drop this is not the best of times or the worst of times for Ipswich Town.

Which is not what you could say for the Canaries. If they do stay up, how will they respond to this injection of prestige - and almost certainly cash - into their East Anglian rivals? Well there's nothing much on the horizon for Norfolkians on a good day, except of a hell of a lot of sky.

I think Delia's going to have to dig a little deeper, isn't she? After that last cookbook telling you how to cheat (and I'd have thought there's a few Premier League forwards who were thinking of publishing a similar volume... Chapter One - See A Leg, Fall Over It) perhaps Deels will publish a book called 'Cooking for Blokes while the Missus Is Out Of An Evening.' That'd be a best-seller, and all it need be is a catalogue of telephone numbers for local Chinese Takeaways.
Roy Keane
Good luck to Keano, though. I'll say one thing for him. He was good post-match copy. He never brought a cartload of clichés to his interviews and anyone who's prepared to say his team's crap when they patently are gets my vote.

Let's just hope he assembles a team that doesn't defend like Liverpool, eh? Or rather let's hope he does! What has happened at Anfield? Has Kevin Keegan taken over?

There's no doubt that while United continue to grind out victories through almost Mourinhoesque mediocrity and two outstanding centre-halves, the 'Pool are playing footie of inspirationally unpredictable quality.

I think Rafa's giving them too many sweets and sugary drinks at half-time meself. And I'm not complaining. I hope they stay this giddy til the end of the season and but if they do they're going to have to set their sights a little Arbeloa.


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