O'Leary's frustration sparks hint to Ellis

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O'Leary paid £13m to bring Keane from Italy to Leeds United, where he also gave Robinson his debut. And this, he joked - setting aside his disappointment and acknowledging that Tottenham played an equal part in an entertaining spectacle - was how they repaid him.

Keane had been on the pitch for only 11 minutes before he cancelled out an early goal by another player with an Elland Road connection, James Milner. Spurs deserved their draw, but the fact that Villa were not out of sight by half-time was due solely to the brilliance of Robinson.

Keane and Robinson could have been Villa players but for the disdain the chairman, Doug Ellis, has for the kind of free spending that characterised his manager's time under Peter Ridsdale at Leeds.

When John Gregory was his manager and wanted Keane, Ellis refused to pay Wolves an extra £500,000. The Irish striker joined Coventry. Two years ago, when O'Leary coveted Robinson, Villa would not meet the England keeper's demands. He joined Spurs.

O'Leary has retained an interest in Keane, perhaps hoping he becomes frustrated by being behind Jermain Defoe. Spurs' manager, Martin Jol, insisted that would not happen, saying he will play 30 games and anyway, "both are first-choice".

But some, to paraphrase George Orwell, are more first-choice than others, as Keane discovered at Leeds when O'Leary greedily collected attackers, and Jol may struggle to keep him when the transfer window reopens. Here, with Defoe misfiring, the Dutchman was thankful for the substitute's ability.

Defoe had seen Thomas Sorensen save his 28th-minute penalty, the Dane's 11th such stop in 15, and hit the bar seconds after Liam Ridgewell did likewise with a chance to make it 2-0. Keane, showing quick feet in a crowded area, soon equalised. "That's no way to treat his fellow Dubliner and ex-boss," O'Leary quipped.

Villa, obviously intent on atoning for their humiliation at West Ham, had dominated the first period. Milner beat Robinson from 20 yards, no mean feat given the agility the keeper would demonstrate, but O'Leary's team have now failed to score after the 11th minute in all six matches.

Despite a single win, their squad looks better than it did last season. Patrik Berger and Milner provided width as well as set-piece prowess and an eye for goal respectively; Milan Baros foraged tirelessly; and Wilfrid Bouma will enhance their solidity at the back if he can adjust to a difference in tempo from Dutch football. However, the loss of Gavin McCann and Martin Laursen has again exposed a lack of numbers.

Spurs appear well covered in most departments. Two recent acquisitions, Jermaine Jenas and Teemu Tainio, lent drive and tenacity to midfield, where Michael Carrick's growing authority highlighted his case for a call-up by England. Possibly with a nod towards his own chairman, O'Leary praised Jol for constantly upgrading his playing resources.

"Tottenham play the right way - the way I want us to play," he said, "and they won't be far off a Champions' League place." Praise indeed from one who spent two decades with Arsenal, although with friends like Keane and Robinson, O'Leary may feel he does not need enemies.

Goals: Milner (4) 1-0; Keane (78) 1-1.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen; Hughes, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Bouma (Samuel, 72); Milner, Davis, Barry, Berger; Angel, Baros. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Hendrie, Moore, Cahill.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, King, Gardner (Naybet, 39), Lee; Jenas, Tainio, Carrick, Reid (Keane, 67); Rasiak, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Brown, Lennon.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Aston Villa Baros; Tottenham King, Naybet.

Man of the match: Robinson.

Attendance: 33,686.

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