Celtic’s last ditch loan signing of Robbie Keane mean that they will see plenty of that embarrassing half summersault celebration between now and May north of the border.
Celtic fans will be rubbing their hands with excitement following the recruitment of Irish striker Robbie Keane as a last minute deadline day loan deal. It seems that the willingness of current club Spurs to let Keane move, is a sign that the player and former club captain’s services are no longer required at the North London club.
His move is another indication that the player, who seemed destined for the big time when he moved to Italian giants Inter at the tender age of 20, has never really fulfilled the early expectations of him.
First things first though, let consider Keane’s positives, he has scored over a 100 goals in the Premier League, a significant record for any striker. What he perhaps lacks in technical ability is often made up in his willingness to run all day for his team. He almost always gives a 100% to the team cause and given a half a chance on goal will probably score. Keane will and should probably score a hatful for Celtic between now and the rest of the season, and the Irishman will more than likely be a hero to many of the Hoops fans.
However, the move to Celtic proves that Harry Redknapp has realised what Rafael Benitez, Marco Tardelli (Inter’s manager during Keane’s time there) and even David O’Leary had worked out before him. They have realised that Keane’s game depends on the team playing a certain way, in order for him to succeed the team needs to be built around him tactically. When teams play to his strengths this way, and he is the main lynchpin of the team, he will score goals – that is way he was such a success at both Coventry and Wolves. But when asked to play in a system, particularly ones that are based upon a higher standard of play, Keane tends to become marginalised as he has been in Tottenham for most of this season.
Benitez was heavily criticised by his inability to blend Keane into the Liverpool team successfully last season, but Benitez’s main failure was not realising the type of player that Keane was before signing him in the first place. Keane became unstuck at Liverpool as he failed to slot in to a team that were technically of higher quality than he was used to.
His time at Spurs has also seen many high’s and low’s, his most successful period came during his first spell just before his transfer to Liverpool; when he partnered the enigma that is Dimitar Berebatov. In many ways Keane was allowed the freedom to play his own game during this period, as he as the hardworking goalscorer was an excellent foil to the often lazy but technically brilliant Berbatov, who could effectively reward Keane’s hard work on a regular basis with an effective flick or through ball.
This season Spurs have used the Defoe/Crouch paring as their first choice strikers; and whilst it is since the arrival of Crouch that Keane has seen himself marginalised; it is Defoe which has taken his place in the team. Target man Crouch is destined to partner a quick and goal getting forward, for Keane it is unfortunate that Redknapp believes that Defoe is both quicker and a more likely goalscorer than him. There is no doubt that Redknapp if given a choice would keep Keane as a bench warmer, a suitable substitute for his first choice pairing, but the Irishman’s need for regular 1st team football have precluded that from happening for any longer.
Keane has the opportunity with Celtic to be the ‘main man’ again, he will be the star man there, will more than likely score goals in a team which will play to his strengths. Harry Redknapp has said that Keane has not played his last game for Spurs and expects him back for the start of next season; but key element will surely depend on Redkanpp’s ability to offer first team football.
This may lead Keane to review his options; Celtic will of course be on the agenda but this will depend on both the price and Keane’s willingness to move permanently to the SPL. It may just be that the magic of the Celtic rubs off on him and the lure of medals and Champions league football will be enough to keep him. Craig Bellamy a player who spent time on loan at Celtic Park, in a similar vein to Keane; has always said that he was attracted to a permanent deal with the club following his time there.
However, it is more than likely that Keane will head back south in May, in a search of a new opportunity. There will be a host of interested clubs but Spurs’s price and the fact that Keane’s wage is closer to Champions league player than an average Premier League player will leave many out of the running. The likely clubs in the running such as Blackburn, Sunderland, Stoke, Fulham and West Ham, may not be amongst the most glamorous of options, but they all will offer a route for Keane to add to his excellent Premier league goalscoring record.