It seems that not everything always turns out the way we expect it to. Ipswich Town were one of the bookmakers’ pre-season favourites for a title challenge under the stewardship of former Republic of Ireland international Roy Keane. The outspoken manager had successfully turned the fortunes of Sunderland around during his time in the north east and led them storming back into the Premier League. Many saw his arrival at Portman Road as a sign that history would be about to repeat itself. Seventeen games into the season, it would appear that nothing could be further from the truth.
In spite of their persistent loitering in the drop zone, this writer will stick to his previous sentiments. Roy Keane will keep the Tractorboys in the Championship this season. It would seem that the board of directors are sticking with their man for now. Of course there is still much football to be played this season, but surely if they were going to give him his marching orders, a decision should have been taken by now, in order to give someone else the best possible opportunity to lead Ipswich to safety.
Ipswich’s form may not be what was expected of them, but it seems that there is nothing new with regards to Keane. Famous for his outspoken views and brutally honest assessments, the Irishman has made an apology this week for his recent comments regarding the Irish F.A. Following the now infamous Thierry Henry handball incident, and the subsequent calls for a replay from the Irish corner, Keane suggested that they should just “get over it” as a replay was never going to be allowed.
It is not the first time that he has shared a difference of opinion regarding the Irish national team. Keane was famously sent home from the World Cup in the far-east during the 2002 tournament, citing a lack of professionalism and poor facilities as the reasoning behind his bust-up with then manager Mick McCarthy. Evidently, most players would have kept their heads down and got on with their preparation, but this is not Keane’s style. Many see his outspoken nature as an unnecessary hindrance, something that will only cause trouble. However, in their present time of need, the Ipswich players will undoubtedly see the value in his often brutal honesty.
Rumours are circulating at the moment that Keane has made an approach for a former team-mate with the national set up. It has been suggested that Ian Harte is being lined up for a move to Suffolk, with Carlisle confirming that an approach for one of their players has been made by the Tractorboys, although the club have refused to confirm who the player in question is.
Should Harte be the subject of the enquiry, it has to be seen as a welcome sign for the Portman Road faithful. Although now in the later years of his career, Harte has often proved himself to be a defender of real quality, who can easily join in the attack when needed. He is also pretty handy with the dead-ball too. Perhaps best known for his days with the Leeds team that made it to the Champions League semi-finals, Harte’s career took an unusual turn when he opted to move to Spain to join Levante. He returned to England with a move to Sunderland, but has not recaptured the form that saw him as one of the hottest properties in the Premier League. Hence he is now playing his football in League One. Of course, it is only speculation as things stand, but should such a move come off, it would be quite an acquisition by Roy Keane.
Talking of transfers and left-backs, Nottingham Forest made a coup of their own this week, landing former England international Nicky Shorey on loan. The former Reading man has struggled to make the grade since signing for Villa and has found his first-team opportunities limited under Martin O’Neill. It may seem a step down, but Shorey has bundles of experience at Championship level and as Forest struggle defensively with injuries, he is guaranteed some much needed match time. The deal runs until the end of December, plenty of time for the player to make his mark and maybe for manager to see what he is missing.