Keane's stuck in mud with the Tractor Boys

After bold talk of promotion, a defeat today against Preston could spark a crisis for Ipswich's volatile manager. James Corrigan reports

Six games into a new season is no time to be judging a new manager. But then this is English football and this is Roy Keane and it is inevitable that, as Ipswich find themselves at the opposite of the end of the Championship table from that which he promised, the importance of today's home match against Preston takes on an over-inflated status.

Despite having arguably the most driven man in football at the controls, the Tractor Boys have begun the campaign with their wheels stuck in something suspiciously resembling the brown stuff. One point out of a possible 12, second from bottom in the League, out of the Carling Cup and still awaiting their first win of the term ... this may be early in the day but there are a few alarms bells ringing across Suffolk.

It is possible to use the "early doors" cliché in terms of Keane, too, as the slammings and openings have started to reverberate around Portman Road. While Ipswich are not the only club involved in some hectic buying and selling before Tuesday's end of the transfer window, none seem to be any more desperate. As ever, Keane has worn his heart in the middle of his rolled-up sleeves.

"Brucey's come out and mentioned one or two players and I've spoken to one or two lads from Sunderland about maybe coming," said Keane yesterday. "But there's a lot to do when you're trying to get players out of the Premiership, in terms of the finances and the desire – I want to find out if these players want to come and play for Ipswich. There's a long, long way to go for these deals to be concluded. It's hard work."

Brucey is, of course, Steve Bruce, his Manchester United compadre. In stark contrast Bruce already attracted favourable reviews for his start at Sunderland, Keane's last club. On Thursday, Bruce admitted he had given permission to two players – Grant Leadbitter and Carlos Edwards – to talk personal terms with Keane. Yesterday Edwards was reported to have returned to Wearside unimpressed by the deal offered down south. And so the games are played out.

It is probably fair to comment that this is not Keane's favourite part of the job, but if he does discover himself losing the phoney war, then he probably only has himself to blame. After last Saturday's one-sided loss to West Bromwich, Keane announced: "There are one or two players who played for me who will never play for me again." He also admitted: "Without a doubt we are short [on quality] but I'll be having a conversation with the board this week to see if funds are available.''

With multi-millionaire Marcus Evans at the helm the funds plainly are available. It is one of the reasons Keane took on the role. He arrived at Portman Road and sought to dismantle what he viewed as a comfort zone. "I've not bumped into an angry person yet," he said. If he wants to see what a couple of angry people are writing, he only need to log on to that scourge of gafferdom known as the message boards.

Predictably they wonder if he is the man to spend the millions. They point out that he has already brought in £4m of his own players and they are as much to blame for the woeful beginning as the old guard. Furthermore they look at Keane's claim at the start of the season that "we have a very good chance of promotion" and wonder.

At this depressing stage they may also raise an eyebrow or two to his exhortation that "any half-decent manager can lead a side to half-way in the Championship". Still, there are plenty left to support Keane. He can count Alan Irvine, his dugout rival today, as a believer. ''Roy Keane knows the Championship," said the manager, whose Preston side are in fifth place. "He did a great job getting Sunderland promoted, and their current form is probably just a blip as everyone settles down."

Irvine's referral to his first managerial job is particularly apt at this juncture. When Keane joined the Black Cats in the last week of August, 2006, they were second bottom of the Championship having suffered a torrid four-game opening. Famously, nine months later, Keane took them to the League title. On the final day of that transfer window, the Corkman made six signings. He has been here before. It just feels a little bit different this time around.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam