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Tough times for Keane

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Paul Fletcher | 22:40 UK time, Saturday, 26 September 2009

In the aftermath of Ipswich's 4-0 home defeat on Saturday a journalist started to ask manager Roy Keane a question about the importance of the forthcoming games against Sheffield United and Barnsley.

Keane cut him off with the line: "You're going to tell me something I don't know?"

Make no mistake, the Irishman is under no illusions about his current predicament.

Ipswich have yet to win a Championship fixture this season and have made the worst start to a league campaign in their history. They sit 23rd in the Championship.

Keane was booed from the field at both half-time and full-time while the Newcastle supporters amused themselves with chants about his possible imminent demise (this involved briefly breaking off from venting their spleen about Mike Ashley).

I'm not quite sure what I expected from Keane in the aftermath of his side's atrocious performance, in which abysmal defending at one end was rivalled only by the lack of bite at the other. Newcastle keeper Steve Harper made one save all afternoon - and a comfortable one at that - while the Magpies were generously afforded one free header after another.

In the middle of the park the likes of Jack Colback and Grant Leadbitter had no answer to the streetwise savvy and experience of Nicky Butt and Alan Smith - a point Keane was quick to make.

Kevin Nolan
Kevin Nolan heads Newcastle into the lead at Portman Road

The Town boss was honest and forthright. You wouldn't expect anything else from Keane, but if he was inwardly seething then he successfully disguised his emotions.

Asked about the reaction of the crowd the Irishman defended their right to vent their fury. "They pay their money and are entitled to their opinions," he said.

Keane has been around the block and despite arousing interest from the assembled journalists by announcing that he would have to look at himself after this result (something he went on to suggest he did after every game), he seems determined to face his current challenge head on.

"We have our pride and it has been massively dented," he said. "It is all part of the challenge."

Keane pointed to some poor defending and talked of a need to execute the basics of football. He suggested his team are now suffering from a lack of confidence and when I asked what he can do about that problem he readily admitted that there are no magic wands. He said that a victory and a bit of luck along the way might help to restore a quality that is often easily lost but difficult to find.

Brittle confidence was why Keane felt it was crucial his team scored first. Three Newcastle goals in four first-half minutes put paid to that plan and provided an object lesson in the difference between a buoyant team and a struggling one.

Both started the season with hopes of promotion and many observers could have been forgiven for suggesting Ipswich were the better prospect.

Keane had won his two games in charge after his appointment towards the end of last season and had a full summer to mould his squad. Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League against a backdrop of boardroom and managerial uncertainty that still engulfs the north-east club.

Yet Newcastle are now two points clear at the top of the Championship and increasingly look like they can stay the distance. When discussing Ipswich's problems, Keane emphasised that what really matters is what happens on the pitch. Extend his point to Newcastle and there can be no doubt that despite the loss of several good players the Magpies have enough quality to deliver results.

Furthermore, suggestions that caretaker boss Chris Hughton - Championship Manager of the Month for August - was not up to the job look increasingly unfounded, while the side look to have everything that Ipswich currently do not - solidity, confidence and creativity.

The Toon might not have looked too flash in their recent away games at Cardiff and Plymouth when Hughton opted to play just one striker but the combination of Nile Ranger and Andy Carroll - two physically impressive young forwards - were certainly a handful at Portman Road.

I spoke to a delighted Kevin Nolan after the match. The attacking midfielder scored a hat-trick to take his tally for the season to six and, match ball in hand, he talked of his relief that the team had started the season well.

"The lads are breathing confidence now because of the start we have had," said Nolan.

"We knew it was going to be hard work after relegation last season and we were willing for the challenge. We always knew we had enough quality in the squad but it was about fulfilling that potential. We have got to keep our feet on the ground to continue to do it throughout the season."

I don't think Ipswich have the quality and, crucially, the experience in vital areas that Newcastle possess. Nonetheless, had they got themselves up and running on the opening day at Coventry - a game they could easily have won - they might be in a very different situation now.

Instead, Keane is the man with all the unanswered questions at the moment and the only fond memories Ipswich supporters will take from the game will involve the emotional and moving remembrance of Sir Bobby Robson.

Robson, of course, managed both clubs and the day was a poignant celebration of his achievements.

Sir Bobby's wife, Elsie, officially names a stand after her late husband

There were wonderful scenes inside Portman Road as the minute's applause took place before the game and during the renditions of Abide With Me and My Way. I can only speculate as to what Dame Elsie felt as she made her way to the middle of the pitch at half-time for the official renaming of the North Stand as the Sir Bobby Robson Stand. Immense pride I would hope at a much-missed man.

It was the sort of occasion that does funny things to the hairs on the back of your neck. I think it is a wonderful thing that the bonds football can build and foster can create such strong emotions.

I would hate to speculate as to quite what Sir Bobby would have made of Saturday's result. As with the contrast between the Ipswich and Newcastle fans at the end, it might have been another case of mixed emotions.

You can follow me throughout the season at


  • Comment number 1.

    woohoo first post, keano is on a downward spiral, cant control a team or spur the kind of reaction that other teams have, eg villa, everton fulham, wer the players fight for and respect the manager! and that desire is mirrored on the pitch!

  • Comment number 2.

    Chris Hughton for permanent manager.
    Alan Shearer for director of football

  • Comment number 3.

    Keane is a legend and deserves a lot more time...

    From a canary

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm not impressed with Roy Keane as a manager at all. He had more resources at his disposal than most Championship managers at the beginning of the summer, and as usual, he spent foolishly while letting Jordhan Rhodes, who could have been the lethal goal threat they're so desperately lacking, get away to Huddersfield Town. Keane seems to be hellbent on signing only three types of players: Players he's managed in the past, players with a tie to Man U, and players from Ireland. When you look at the nadir he has taken Ipswich Town to, and then look at how well teams with much more modest resources, such as Scunthorpe and Blackpool are doing so far this season, it just further exposes him as an ineffective manager. Ipswich Town should get rid of Keane as fast as they can, before they join their old rivals Norwich in League One next season. There's probably enough quality in the team to stay up, but not with Keane at the helm.

  • Comment number 5.

    Still early days but under the circumstances a superb start to the season for Newcastle. Stand out player so far must go to Alan Smith - has proved many doubters wrong and great to see someone so dedicated to his role, should be captain without question.

  • Comment number 6.

    If you are suffering from lack of confidence the last manager you'd want berating you is Keane!
    Lack of chemistry in East Anglia I'd say.

  • Comment number 7.

    Man management is crucial, and there's no evidence that Keane has any relevant skills. I can't see him having a long-term career as a manager.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    There's no point at all in getting rid of Keane now, I think we've got to him him a couple more months at least. I think he'll come good, come on the town!

  • Comment number 10.

    Comment 3.

    What league are you in?

    Your not even the biggest team in East Anglia in said league.

    I can't take a comment seriously from a team that got beat 7 - 1 at home by Colchester. Gunn is a Norwich legend :)

    If you have read/seen any of RK's interviews recently, he says that he learnt from his mistakes at Sunderland so his man management skills are much improved.

    He will turn things around, you can't jusy mould your own team in 8 matches. This season will be transitional, but next season I believe we will be a force.

    It is the Ipswich Town way to back a manager not sack them after a handfull of matches. That would be the Norwich way

  • Comment number 11.

    Contibutor 'thenightshft' has got it completely right. Overall, the players Keano has signed just don't have the quality. Meanwhile he's let go a star of the future in Jordan Rhodes (for £500K ?) and then signed the unproven Priskin for £2.5K!! Should have spent that money oin the defence Keano, Balkenstein just isn't up to it bless him. i could go on, but my heart isn't in it...

  • Comment number 12.

    I just don't get the whole Roy Keane thing. He was overrated as a player and he obviously hasn't got what it takes as a manager. If Ipswich don't start winning soon then Keane's guaranteed to walk. AGAIN.

  • Comment number 13.

    Comment 10.

    We're in the same league as you will be next year ;)! Although I'd much prefer it that we got promoted (doubtful this year) and you stay up. A season without the derby is just not the same.

    Yeah we didn't give Gunn much time but that's cause we have learnt from the mistakes of Worthington. Giving him too much time is what got us into this mess.

    Appointing Keane was a mistake and I think you should cut your losses now. You never know you might be able to Steve Coppell!

  • Comment number 14.

    Keane made a mistake by playing 1 up front in the first half with 4 4 2 we had some shape and had we scored first in 2nd half it may have made a difference. The first win will transform us.

  • Comment number 15.

    for a manager who says he has learnt from his previous mistakes he seems to alienate his dressing room far too easy.

  • Comment number 16.

    15 - How do you know he has alienated the dressing room at Ipswich?

    Surely if this was true we would be hearing rumours of dressing room rumours?

    I think people are always quick to bash Keane because of the whole "build them up, knock them down" menatlity which goes on this country.

    It isnt the start any Ipswich fan expected, but he will turn it round.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm not convinced that Roy Keane has 'lost the dressing room' or that his players do not want to perform for him.

    However, they are clearly lacking confidence - making basic defensive errors at one end and shot-shy at the other. Keane needs to tighten them up at the back (they have conceded 19 in nine games). And despite insisting that he is constantly encouraging his players to shoot the Town boss needs to ensure that his strikers have something approaching half-decent service. There wasn't much on Saturday.

    Keane got booed off on Saturday but during the game the crowd were actually pretty supportive of the team. As much as could have been expected anyway.

  • Comment number 18.

    keano out

  • Comment number 19.

    Um......folks, when Keane took over Sunderland they were in the same position Ipswich are now. Firmly planted at the foot of the Championship. In that same season he led them to the top of the table and into the Premiership and kept them there. They are still there today. He played his entire career for two great managers; Clough and Ferguson.

    Yeah, he knows how to do it, folks.

    The big question mark is over his judgment of talent. Several of his signings at Sunderland were busts and it looks like the same has happened here at Ipswich. I have no doubt he knows how to manage men, motivate them and formulate a match strategy. It's in assembling a team where the doubts lie.

  • Comment number 20.

    Keane just needs time when he was a player he could bring players together and nowhe needs to do th same. you are too quick to judge him

  • Comment number 21.

    If Roy concentrated on football rather than also being the leader of Iran things would be better at Ipswich.He doesn't fool me by calling himself Ahmadinejad.

  • Comment number 22.

    One thing that needs to be said about Newcastle and their wonderful start to the season - is that they are basically a premiership team playing in the championship.

    The majority of the team playing week in week out are of a quality that wouldn't give a second look at playing in the championsip. Most stayed at Newcastle because no one else would pay their hugely inflated wages. As for Chris Houghton, you would have to be really bad to not be winning games with the palyers at his disposal.

    I am no Roy Keane fan, but any team playing against Newcastle faces the prospect of losing by several goals.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think that newcastle would do well to hold on to chris hughton just as caretaker manager for as long as they can, and then keep him as assistant for the next manager, because caretaker taker bosses turning to managers usually doesnt work out. Look at Ricky Sbragia for sunderland last year. And lets face it, things havent exactly gone Paul Hart's way either. Newcastle are in great form, top of the table aswell so keep things as they are.

    As for keane, he needs to sort out his tactics, because one win can kick start a good spell for ipswich. Possibly bring in some players on loan to give more options. Give him time. Ipswich wont be relegated and have got plenty of time to get back to winning and boosting themselves up the table.

  • Comment number 24.

    Should the Newcastle takeover ever happen, will everyone be happy at this rate? Newcastle are flying and Chris Hughton is doing a great job. Wouldn't be suprprised if he's offered the manager's spot.

  • Comment number 25.

    Give Keane a chance. If ITFC still haven't won after 756 matches, then give him the sack.

  • Comment number 26.



  • Comment number 27.

    They took out Jim Magilton saying he did not have the experience to get promotion given last years efforts.
    Well take a look at QPR, DID HE HAVE BETTER PLAYERS? Dont think so, no better than Keane has, and Keane was provided cash, even tho QPR are a bunch of billionaires play thing, Jim had less cash I think.
    Anyway, better of with Jim I believe.

  • Comment number 28.


    Please stop going on and on about this man and give JUST A FEW column inches to someone else.

  • Comment number 29.

    Keane has got to be a norwich city legend.

    seriously though, give him a bit more time: it's the constantly changing managers and backroom instability that has caused norwich to nosedive over the last 2 seasons.

    and, as regards 10.:
    you're not the biggest team in East Anglia either - that coverted title now belongs to the Posh it seems!

    All the best to Ipswich this year though (and bring on the old farm derby next season).

  • Comment number 30.

    When the going gets tough, Keane gets going.

    He seems to believe that intimidating his players will get the best out of doesn't.

    With the resources available to him, he should have bought more wisely.

    Its the same old signings with him, Players he has already worked with, youngsters from United that he believed to have talent and the odd Irishman.

  • Comment number 31.

    @redraaj - I don't recall Keane bringing players together for Ireland at the World Cup. Any man that can walk out on his country at a world cup or delibrately break another man's leg is not someone I would want managing my team.

  • Comment number 32.

    Great day on Saturday BUT after fifty years of watching the Town I must say that this is the worst bunch that I have ever seen and that can be only down to one man Keano must Go is the message

  • Comment number 33.


    What planet do you live on?

    There is no way Keane was overrated as a player. DO you honestlyu think Fergie woudl have kept him as captain if he was rubbish.

    Keane is a good manager and just needs some time to get it right. He did well at Sunderland getting them from teh bottom of the CHampionship to the title in the same season.

    All you ned is 1 win and then it will all kick start and Ipswich will start climbing.

    #31 - Keane didn't walk out at the World Cup. What happened was that he asked Mick McCarthy to stand up to FAI about the poor facilities the team had and suggested a change in tactics. McCarthy then had a public argument with Keane, things were said and McCarhy SENT HIM HOME. He would have stayed if he could. Facts right please

  • Comment number 34.

    Comment 31. Spot on. Agree with every word. I said when he was appointment that Keene was a mistake.He might have been an effective player but his tactics and man management are non existant.

  • Comment number 35.

    Ipswich fans needn't worry, you're playing the Blades tonight and are guaranteed to beat us, because whenever we play against a team that hasn't won/scored for loads of games, they always score and win against us, we can't help ourselves.

    Look at Swansea on saturday, one win all season and only one goal since August and we lose 2-1 to ten men (then nine in injury time).

    I'd like to think we can pile more misery on Keane (purely as a blade only, not because I dislike ipswich), but as ever I'm a Blade filled with eternal optimism..........

  • Comment number 36.

    Keep the faith! if you are a supporter, then SUPPORT rather than whine.

    Remember, Robson at Ipswich, Fergie at ManU, Ancelotti in Italy were all close to the door after, who knows given time perhaps Tractor Roy can get become a great manager.

  • Comment number 37.

    One small point....

    'had they got themselves up and running on the opening day at Coventry - a game they could easily have won'

    I think you'll find coventry fully deserved that win. Ipswich were a poor team on the day, and that form has continued, coventry on the other hand were maginally better and so deserved 3 points!!

  • Comment number 38.

    Keane was an asset to any team he "graced". His playing style was based upon physical presence and thuggery combined with skill and passion. He must have been horrible to play against, and just as intimidating to play with. I'm not sure those skills cut it in the managerial world. Fergie, Wenger, Shankly, Robson, Clough, Capello Busby, Stein lots of blood and thunder but even more guile, discernment, variety and nous. I dont think Roy will ever be the complete package.

    Matala66 suggests 4-0 against Newcastle isn't a bad result.
    Rubbish my friend - look at Blackpools 2-1 win over them.

  • Comment number 39.

    I remember when Keane took over as manager of Sunderland in the Championship, I think they lost the first five games but he turned them round and got automatic promotion.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sacking Keane would be stupid.
    He's only been in charge for a few games. It takes time to get things right. It took Sir Bobby a few years to get things right when he arrived at Ipswich in the late 60's.
    Keane has proven himself to be a capable manager at Sunderland. He was on a learning curve there, and he made a few mistakes, but he did get them promoted after having lost the first few games of the season.

    Even if Wenger or Sir Alex were managing Ipswich at the moment would they be doing better? Possibly not.

    A football manager is like a formula 1 driver, you can't judge them in isolation from the car (or in Keanes case the team).

    Give him a chance and judge him after 100 games.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have laughed at the likes of bryan robson and big time charlie govnor ince being touted as managers. When I heard Keane was appointed at Sunderland I thought it was a stroke of Genius. It turned out to be. Stuff happened at Sunderland and Keane walked away. I think Ipswich dumping him isn't going to solve their problem. They don't have the personel. That could change if the players can be imbibed with self belief. Perhaps Keane is the man to do that. But it's not Christmas, you are not 'adrift' yet. Wait till January comes and goes and though it maybe too late for some of you, I would see Ipswich finish half way up the table.

  • Comment number 42.

    Just to Add Chris Hughton didn't cut it as a manager at Newcastle, they sold their best players and now look what he is doing? What has he changed? Got rid of the big heads it seems. But how come it didn't happen before, he had loads of chances.

  • Comment number 43.

    All ive got to say is there playing next Sheffield united and hopefully they are going to lose.Up the blades.

  • Comment number 44.

    I feel sorry for Roy Keane because he had to inherit some of the very poor footballers that Magilton bought to the club.

    But,on top of that Keane too made some poor signings at a big cost.

    I think Quinn-Peters-Stead-Garvan-Counago-Walters-Balkenstein and Richard Wright will keep Ipswich stuck where they are.They are the typical modern day footballers who can talk the talk but can,t walk the walk.These are the players we need to get rid of.

  • Comment number 45.

    Wondering what people think after tonights result?

  • Comment number 46.

    Hey Fletch this was a problem I had last season, why is there only ever a couple of lines on the championships games, by way of reports, and reams written about the top 6 in Premeriship. More championship information please.


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