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Roy Keane couldn’t manage players who weren’t as good as he was

By Paul Hyland

Now, the questions for Roy Keane are fundamental. Will he ever be a manager or will his brooding intensity and sky high standards always get in the way?

For some weeks now, Keane has presented a sanguine outlook on his chances of holding onto his job at Ipswich. 'If it happens, it happens' was the view expressed.

It was a fatalistic view of the future and appears to be fully in line with Keane's customary response to controversy.

When Republic of Ireland players Phil Babb and Mark Kennedy went for a midnight stroll, which involved the bonnet of a Garda's car in Dublin’s Harcourt Street, and were bounced from the Irish squad by Mick McCarthy, Keane's attitude was simple. What's the fuss? Nobody died.

At the airport in Saipan when a few journalists spoke to him after the infamous pre-World Cup bust-up with McCarthy and moments before he left the island, he used the same phrase. “Look lads, nobody died here.”

It's a handy catch-all comment but it hides a multitude. He must have been seething inwardly while he waited for his flight — but he would have chewed his arm off rather than show it.

In those days, Keane only had responsibility for his own actions but since he quit playing, he has had to worry about dozens of other individuals and personalities.

The evidence is now clear that the former Manchester United and Republic captain will always struggle to accommodate the wide range of views and idiosyncrasies contained within a squad of professional footballers, especially if he continues to use his own personal standards as the benchmark.

Keane, of course, will argue that he didn't get the support he was hoping for in financial terms at Portman Road.

His net transfer dealings amount to outgoings of just under £3m, hardly a massive drain on Ipswich’s resources and he has admitted that his greatest problem all along was the fact that he could not convince the right kind of players to come Portman Road.

This, of course, is a double-edged sword. It may well be that Ipswich is too far away from the bright lights of the big city clubs but it could also be the case that Keane himself was a barrier.

On several occasions in the last year, Keane has tried to persuade solid citizens like Lee Carsley, Kevin Kilbane and Andy O'Brien to come to the club and help him build the kind of experienced platform required to run a successful Championship promotion drive.

He has tried to sign other players too; players who don't carry an Irish passport but could have helped him. They said no as well.

At Sunderland, he brought in far too many Irish players and not many of them were of the required standard but he needed the familiarity they brought with them and he hoped for a stronger bond of loyalty than he might have expected from others.

He kept up a steady trade in Irish players at Ipswich but he never got the ones he wanted; the ones who might have made a difference.

Meanwhile, Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg confirmed the club's search for a permanent successor is gathering pace, although he refused to comment on speculation linking Paul Jewell with the post after the former Bradford, Wigan and Derby boss was installed as the favourite to replace Keane.

“We are in the process of looking for a new manager and that is at an advanced stage,” said Clegg .

And Clegg confirmed that the new manager will be saddled with the same high expectations which Keane failed to live up to.

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