Why Roy Keane Would Be a Wise Choice as Assistant Manager at Manchester United

Paul AnsorgeFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2014

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, left, and manager Martin O'Neill, right, watch their team play against Latvia during a soccer International at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.  (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Peter Morrison

Roy Keane is being considered for the assistant manager's job at Manchester United, per the Independent, and given the kind of season it has been at Old Trafford, Keane would represent an excellent choice.


During ITV's coverage of the Champions League clash between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, Keane was asked by Adrian Chiles what he made of the sacking of David Moyes. His reply was typically forthright. He said the club's executives had failed Moyes during his first transfer window, and then took aim at the players.

I think that some of the players at Man United should be ashamed of themselves. I think they really let [David Moyes] down

Whilst I advocated Moyes' removal, and am personally relieved to see United to take early action, it also appears that Keane is correct about the players' culpability in the farce that has played out this season.

There has been, at times, a visible lack of application on the pitch. Perhaps even worse, are the rumours of players' behaviour toward Moyes, per Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail. If even half of those rumours are true, then whoever is in charge next needs to help the players to, in the language Keane might use, take a good look at themselves.

21 Apr 1999:  Manchester United captain Roy Keane wheels away after scoring in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match against Juventus at the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin, Italy. United won 3-2 on the night to go through 4-3 on aggregate. \ M
Getty Images/Getty Images

And who better to help them do that than Roy Keane? A candidate for United's greatest-ever captain, instrumental in Sir Alex Ferguson's rock-hard 1993/94 side and the fierce beating heart of his all-conquering, swashbuckling, joyous 1998/99 side, Keane showed leadership qualities on the pitch that the smallest handful could match.

His managerial career has not been the success he would have craved, but there have been high points. He took over Sunderland when they were languishing in the Championship and lead them on the charge that saw them earn promotion as Champions.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 15:  Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and Assistant manager Roy Keane during the International Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Latvia at Aviva Stadium on November 15, 2013 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Ian Walton/G
Ian Walton/Getty Images

He was unable to sustain that momentum once promoted, and he was unable to replicate it when appointed at Ipswich, but, following some time out of the game, he has recently returned to the frontlines as assistant manager to Martin O'Neill at the Irish national team.

Keane as assistant manager makes a good deal of sense. There is no counterargument to the suggestion that he is a fiery character—his television presence tells you that, let alone his playing career—but he is also a thoughtful man with an excellent insight into what it takes to win.

The role of assistant allows him to bring his influence to bear in a less high-profile manner, allowing someone else to take the spotlight, whilst Keane works directly with players, and offers his tactical insight without having the pressure of the final decision.

Given his lack of managerial experience at the highest level, it would be unthinkable to imagine Keane in the top job at Old Trafford, but as a No. 2? Well, let's just say he has a unique set of skills.

The oft mentioned "fear factor" had clearly gone at Old Trafford under Moyes. This applied both to visiting sides, gleefully pillaging three points on previously unconquerable ground, and to United's own players who, freed from two-and-a-half decades of dictatorial pressure, appear not to have acquitted themselves in a particularly honourable fashion.

There is no doubt Keane would command the respect of the players. He could point to countless performances during his time at United wherein he gave every fibre of himself in search of glory. He could point to his medal collection, although, given Keane's personality that does not seem like it would be his go-to move.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 12: Assistant manager Roy Keane of Republic of Ireland looks on during a training session at Gannon Park on November 12, 2013 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Paton/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

If all else fails, he could just stare at them. It is hard not to imagine that having some motivational effect.

A rod of iron is not enough in the modern game. The carrot is as valuable as the stick, if not more so, but if the stories of dressing room mutiny are accurate, it is clear that a course correction is needed.

Who better to contribute to that than Keano?