Robbie Keane seems to have joined a growing list of players alienated at Anfield (e.g. Peter Crouch, outcast after he’d proved his critics wrong) for not being able to fit into Rafael Bentitez’s perceived preferred formation. Time was all you’d to be was a good player, now you need a degree in trigonometry to go with it.
Presumably before he joined Rafa’s great rotating revolution – anyone remember the song ‘System Addict’? – the Irish captain received some sort of assurances as to where he would fit into the grand scheme of things. The alarm bells started ringing for me when the manager referred, at Keane’s very unveiling, to the ever/over-eager Robbie’s apparent versatility, including his willingness to ‘work the wings’. Ye what?
Everyone knows the tricky Tallaght man operates best floating in the ‘hole’ behind a main striker, a subtle foil to an off-the-shoulder speed merchant like Torres, rather than a fellow frontrunner.
Though he should have been forewarned, Keane was a Liverpool fan as a kid and Anfield was his dream destination. Unfortunately, every time he’s threatened to come good Benitez has either sidelined him or pointedly refused to play to his strengths.
Such was his disappointment at being axed from the squad for Sunday’s FA Cup home derby that Keane – who, it’s now claimed, wasn’t a Benitez target to begin with – couldn’t bring himself to watch as his increasingly belligerent boss, of all people, accused Everton of playing for, and getting, a draw.
He’d do better to acknowledge that David Moyes, operating on a shoestring, has worked miracles at Goodison Park; particularly considering the perennially overachieving Scot has no fit striker, whereas the Spaniard across Stanley Park has more forwards than he knows what to do with.
Harry Redknapp, who thought wise to backtrack on his midweek affront to the FA Cup – which, he temporarily forgot, is the only major trophy on his managerial CV – says he’d be “a liar” to say he wouldn’t like the “fantastic” Keane back at White Hart Lane.
Moyes might be interested in keeping the much-travelled Dubliner on Merseyside, but given that Spurs have probably received only a fraction of the £20m fee Liverpool agreed to pay, a rapid return to London would look the most likely scenario. He wouldn’t be the first person to discover that meeting your heroes can be a depressing experience. Kevin Doyle pay heed.