Former United legend must forget the mistakes of the past to be a success in the Midlands.
On Tuesday afternoon it was finally confirmed that Roy Keane would be joining Aston Villa as an assistant manager to Paul Lambert for the unforeseen future, and in doing so further split the club’s support firmly down the middle.
Things aren’t well at Villa right now. The club are up for sale with no new buyer in sight, the fans are disillusioned after a demoralising campaign that saw them come too close to the drop again, and the transfer budget has been slashed to a reported £10m, which includes benefits. Clearly the club needs something to lift it.
After last season’s problems behind the scenes, Keane’s appointment will likely guarantee that nothing similar happens again. Though, it is ironic that Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa were both relieved of their duties over alleged bullying, causing Lambert to replace them with someone as fearsome as the Irishman.
However, Keane does bring with him a wealth of experience at the very top level. Those pointing to his less than enviable record as a manager seem to forget that his role this time will be completely different, and that reports from the Irish national team camp have been largely positive about the role he’s taken under Martin O’Neill.
There’s a sense that he has calmed a little in his old age, but disciplinary issues involving the squad and a lack of commitment won’t be an issue at all while Keano’s around.
But on the other hand, there will be a danger that he could rule by fear. Villa have a young squad and will want to impress, so the temptation to over-exert themselves could weigh heavy on their shoulders.
He is still quite clearly a fearsome character, and what will become of the players if they can’t reach the same levels of intensity as he demands? Not because they’re not good enough, but because they just aren’t wired the same way. There are frequent stories of managers growing frustrated with their players because they cannot match what their skill level.
There is simply no way of knowing which way his tenure at the club will go. Consensus is that it’ll end in failure, but you can’t have a career like Keane’s and not have your detractors (of which there are many) but he seems genuinely keen (no pun intended) to get to work with the club and make the most of what it can offer him.
Undoubtedly if it does end in disaster it will be to the detriment of both. Keane will likely struggle to find another job of a similar calibre, while the club will end up sliding down into the Championship as it has threatened to do for so long now.
Both will need to work together and ride out the storm until the club finds a new owner. It won’t be easy, but nothing ever is.