Friday, November 18, 2005

Keane-no, Keane-no, Keane-hmm, well, maybe

Roy Keane's abrupt departure from Manchester United, and his well documented affinity with Celtic, has led to the inevitable speculation that he will soon be a Celtic player.

Celtic themselves, surprisingly in my eyes, have been quick to encourage the rumours:

"If at any time Roy would like to speak to us about his future and Celtic's, we would be only too happy to speak to him, but as yet there have been no discussions."

My immediate reaction, was 'no way'.

Keane WAS a fantastic midfielder - the type who could win a game by sheer force of will. Capable of overcoming his limited technical skills with passion, determination, and an intimidating presence which drained his opponents of the will to fight.

If he was 26 years old, and fighting fit, Celtic fans would be rejoicing from the rooftops at news of his possible signing.

However, his powers are in decline, and years of all-action football have left him carrying a multitude of injuries. At 34 he had already outlived his usefulness to the Manchester United first eleven.

His formidable disciplinary record would also leave him vulnerable to the attention seeking elements of the Scottish refereeing brotherhood.

Added to this is a wage bill rumoured to be £80,000 PER WEEK at Manchester United!

Why then, would Celtic wish to recruit Roy Keane?

He would by no means be guaranteed a start in the current Celtic midfield; though he would certainly strengthen the options for squad rotation.

If, and it is a big if, he could manage a prolonged period at full fitness, he would still be more than capable of bossing most SPL midfield battles.

He would certainly boost the media profile of the club in England, where Celtic's long term ambitions lie.

One area which has not been mentioned is Ireland.

Historically, Celtic has had a big Irish following. With Sky's glamourisation - and blanket coverage - of The Premiership, the big English teams, including Manchester United, have absorbed much of the support which previously came Celtic's way.

Perhaps the board see this as an opportunity to re-invigorate their Irish connections. In the same way that the signings of Shunsuke Nakamura and Du Wei have established new Celtic connections in Japan and China.

They may see a deal which brings a degree of footballing benefit, and a degree of commercial opportunity, as being worthy of funding.

If so, I would presume any package would be on the basis of a limited salary, with generous appearance and performance bonuses.

Certainly, I don't imagine a 3-year deal to be on the table. More likely 6-months with a 1-year option.

Perhaps there will be one extra attendee at Celtic Park tomorrow. I'm sure the press cameras will be ready.

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