01 July 2020 08:35
When Roy Keane allowed his name to be linked with the managerial vacancy at Turkish club side Kasimpasa in September 2012 there was a suspicion the real aim was to make him seem publicly wanted at a time that Blackburn Rovers were weighing up who their next boss might be. The 48-year-old Irishman has not managed in his own right since and news the Azerbaijani FA have talked to him about taking over their national team has not been accompanied by the slightest suggestion his people have helped generate the reports in order to add urgency to an ongoing situation elsewhere. A great many coaches would rightly covet the opportunity to manage any national team and Azerbaijan would have much more by way of resources than most but it still seems like a very unlikely fit, unless somebody in Baku saw Keane's recent endorsement of dressing room confrontations with underperforming players and liked the strongman tone of it all. Those comments by Keane, made while working as a pundit on the game between Manchester United and Tottenham, were widely seen as having served as a reminder of why such a talented player has found it so hard to get another opportunity in football management. The problem for the once great midfielder is that nearly 15 years after his retirement from playing and not too far off 20 years from the last of his five inclusions in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, Keane's star power has dimmed a little and the outspoken nature of his TV work has only served to perpetuate the questions asked about his temperament.
Roy Keane signs autographs in 2009 during his time as Ipswich Town manager. He is, of course, hampered by the manner of his departure from Sunderland, his wider failure at Ipswich but the various tales of his sometimes spectacular altercations with players, most recently Jon Walters and Harry Arter during his time as Martin O'Neill's assistant with Ireland, are probably the most damaging thing of all at this stage and talking about fighting with David de Gea did him no favours. Though clearly articulate and hugely knowledgeable, the tone of Keane's onscreen comments do little to counter the argument that both the game and, in particular, team management have moved on in the time he has been waiting for a job or working with O'Neill. It will be slightly sad though, if, in the longer term, Keane cannot find a way to be more constructively involved back in the game than imagining for a TV audience the combative half-time team talks he would give if only someone would give him half a chance once more. Roy Keane is reportedly in discussions over a surprise return to management… to become boss of the Azerbaijan national team!
The Irishman has been working in the media since leaving his role as Nottingham Forest assistant manager in 2019 but is said to be keen to return to management. The Sun are reporting the former Manchester United midfielder is talking to Azerbaijan regarding their vacancy, with the 48-year-old said to be the country's top choice as they look for a new boss. The report says Keane has been offered an attractive financial package to take the role but will need to be convinced the position is the right one for him to return to management. Since leaving Ipswich in 2011, Keane has worked as Paul Lambert's assistant at Aston Villa and with Martin O'Neill at both the Republic of Ireland and Forest. Azerbaijan had hoped to unveil Roy Keane as their new national boss ahead of the Nations League draw in Amsterdam last March.
At that time, it was one of my best seasons and I had pretty much everything set to go to England, to the Premier League, to Sunderland.