Roy Keane has already tried to make it work with Celtic twice. Like a bad experience on Tinder, the chemistry just wasn’t right.
A meeting in Dermot Desmond’s London lair featured an unusual sales pitch from Gordon Strachan. Keane left the clandestine gathering convinced the Parkhead boss couldn’t care less whether they hooked up or not. Unimpressed, he did what Roy Keane does. He offered a get-it-up-you to Strachan and joined Celtic in an act of spite.
Roy Keane is currently in talks with Celtic over succeeding Neil Lennon as their manager
But Keane’s chemistry with Celtic just isn’t quite right and his appointment would be a big risk
A reduced figure by then, his hip was so shot after one training session he almost quit on day one. His first game — a humiliating Scottish Cup defeat to Clyde — was a sign of things to come. Despite a man-of-the-match display in a 0-0 draw at Ibrox, the relationship was short-lived and unsatisfying.
The chance to reignite the spark came in 2014. After talking to Desmond about the possibility of becoming Celtic’s new manager, he received a take-it-or-leave-it offer from chief executive Peter Lawwell. This time he swiped left — and in his autobiography he explained why.
‘They weren’t convincing me: “Listen, you’re the man for us”.
‘Celtic didn’t give me enough of a headache, they just didn’t show me that they wanted me. Wrong job, wrong time.’
Now here we are seven years later, back in the same movie. Celtic are playing the field looking for a deep and meaningful relationship. Keane is sitting by the phone, waiting to see if he’s the one. In midweek, major shareholder Desmond granted a rare interview to the club website offering little or no insight into the process.
Keane’s CV as a manager at only Sunderland and Ipswich is hardly inspiring
Former director Brian Dempsey was filleted. Desmond rounded on journalists, pundits and commentators for filling the information void with speculation. Critics, added the Irish Confucius, are in no position to judge what they cannot see.
It hardly requires a course of laser eye surgery to see one thing. Ten years have now passed since Keane was a manager in his own right. And he has done absolutely nothing to suggest he deserves another crack now.
In two seasons at Ipswich Town, he oversaw 81 games; winning 28, drawing 25 and losing 28. He left with a win rate of 34.6 per cent and, despite serving Martin O’Neill as an assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, clubs are hardly forming an orderly queue at his door.
A reputation for falling out with people won’t go away. Tactically, he’s regarded as a bit old school.
You can see why he might hold an appeal to Celtic. A fiery, combative Sky Sports pundit, the Keane name is still box office. He’s out of work and willing to move to Scotland. And there are worse names to have as a Celtic referee than O’Neill.
Celtic are eager to seize control of Scottish football again after Rangers’ season of dominance
Keane versus Steven Gerrard would have Sky Sports rubbing their hands in glee. It’s now three years since Rangers sprinkled some stardust on the SPFL by hiring the Liverpool legend. The punt paid off in style this season with a league title and progress to the last 16 of the Europa League.
Desmond might be tempted to have a tenner each way on Keane. Especially if some of the fans threatening to withhold their season-ticket cash are blinded by the stars in their eyes. The trouble is that next season’s Premiership winners could be playing for an automatic place in the Champions League and, for Celtic, this is no time for risky behaviour.
They need to get this right and, drinking in the last-chance saloon of his stalled managerial career, Roy Keane should also be asking himself a question.
If Celtic really wanted him, why didn’t they do it months ago?
Keane coming up against Steven Gerrard would have Sky Sports rubbing their hands in glee
They could have done it when they shipped four goals to Sparta Prague (twice).
They could have done it when the fans gathered on Celtic Way to scream for Neil Lennon’s removal after a Betfred Cup defeat to Ross County in November.
They didn’t make their move then. And doing it now would look like he was the last resort.
If it’s true love he craves, Roy Keane must know he’ll never find it in Glasgow.
Not from Celtic fans. And not from a club with a few commitment issues.
Roy might be Keane on Celtic. Not for the first time, Celtic seem less Keane on Roy.