Roy Keane quits Aston Villa citing problems combining roles

Keane is also assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland

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The Independent Online

“Keane quits” is not exactly a ground-breaking headline. Whether it be the Republic of Ireland World Cup squad, the manager’s chair at Sunderland, the ITV commentary team or, now, Aston Villa’s coaching staff, once Roy Keane decides he has had enough, he walks.

We may have to wait until the paperback version of his latest autobiography to find the real reason he left Villa Park yesterday after just four months working alongside manager Paul Lambert. It may be the one given – that he was finding it difficult to combine the role with being Ireland’s assistant manager. But since the Irish do not have a fixture until 29 March, and only two competitive matches in the next 10 months, the timing seems rather odd. Only last month he insisted he had time to promote his book in the same week Ireland played two Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Yesterday, however, he said, in a statement: “Ultimately, my roles with Villa and Ireland and combining my commitment has become too much. It isn’t fair to either.

“I’d like to thank Paul for giving me a great opportunity to come to a brilliant club. I’ve really enjoyed my experiences at Villa.”

Martin O’Neill, his boss with Ireland, said he was “delighted” Keane had chosen country over club. O’Neill added: “He didn’t have any holiday – he went straight from international duty  to Aston Villa and eventually those things catch up  with you.

“Roy being the perfectionist he is, he wanted to give everything to every single cause, but I think family time has perhaps been missing. We had a big discussion about the issue at the last international. He was concerned about having that full commitment to Villa and to ourselves.”

Keane did say he had been struggling to find time with his family. He has always tried to maintain a relatively normal family environment since moving into management. When at Sunderland, he commuted from the family home near Manchester, keeping a flat on Wearside. At Ipswich, he moved the family to Suffolk. Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground is 90 minutes from his Cheshire home on a good day, a lot longer when the M6 is busy, as it often is.

Inevitably, however, there will be a suspicion that there has also been a difference of opinion with Lambert as to how they can arrest Villa’s slump. After starting the season with 10 points from four matches, Villa lost the next six before drawing with West Ham and, on Monday, Southampton, leaving them two places and two points above the relegation zone.

Villa, who are at Burnley today, have scored six goals in their 12 games, the fewest, and lowest ratio, of any of the 92 League clubs.

Villa said Lambert will look to fill the position “as soon as is practically possible”. The Scot, who sacked his long-term assistant Ian Culverhouse last season, said: “Roy informed me the difficulty of combining both roles has prompted his decision. In the brief period we have worked together he has been great.”