Roy Keane is considering an offer to join Aston Villa as manager Paul Lambert’s assistant having pulled out of working for ITV as a pundit during the World Cup in Brazil.
Keane wants to concentrate instead on furthering his immediate coaching career and, having rejected the chance to be considered as Neil Lennon’s replacement at Celtic, is set to become Lambert’s No 2 while continuing as Republic of Ireland’s assistant manager under Martin O’Neill, who is going to Brazil with ITV.
A dozen years after angrily turning his back on the World Cup while an Ireland player, following a breakdown in his relationship with manager Mick McCarthy, Keane is again missing out on a trip to the game’s biggest event. But this time it is with his employer’s blessing, even if it is a body blow to ITV’s coverage. A sofa partnership of Keane and Gus Poyet promised fireworks.
Keane has established himself as one of the channel’s main draws with his waspish, and often dismissive, summaries of games. For all his renowned intensity, he was a popular part of ITV’s team and had enjoyed his previous tournament with them, at Euro 2012, where he was happy to play in the production crew’s scratch games in between shows. It was while in Warsaw that he buried the hatchet with Patrick Vieira, his old playing adversary.
“Roy has been a tremendous part of our pundit team in recent years, but we fully understand his decision to concentrate wholly on his coaching,” an ITV spokesperson said. “We wish him every success for the future.”
It is over three years since Keane’s last domestic coaching job and it may be that his time on the fringes of the game – a period when he could watch and learn from a distance – will prove of benefit when re-immersed in the day-to-day demands of helping to run a club.
He is close to Lambert, with the Scot in turn friendly with O’Neill, who brought Keane back into coaching with Ireland last year. O’Neill is a former Celtic manager and Lambert was one of the cornerstones of his side in Glasgow.
Keane met with Lambert before the Celtic job came up as the Villa manager is seeking a new No 2 following the dismissal of Ian Culverhouse. Keane then declined the opportunity to be considered for the main role at Celtic – no doubt having sought O’Neill’s advice – and is mulling over a move to Villa Park. Perhaps Villa will offer him Alan Hutton on a long lead to take for walks now his labrador,Triggs, Keane’s famous walking partner back in 2002, is no longer with us.
Keane was due back in Dublin last night ahead of Ireland’s two-match tour of the United States. His last domestic job came to an abrupt end in January 2011 when Keane was sacked by Ipswich with the club struggling at the wrong end of the Championship. His other managerial role was at Sunderland, where he took them back up to the Premier League in 2007 before resigning midway through his third season to the reported relief of a number of his players who failed to appreciate his dictatorial style.
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