Not Keane enough?


You have to feel sorry for Robbie Keane.
Sure, he has earned another generous signing-on fee for a few months inactivity at Liverpool. Sure, you hated him every time he did the bow and arrow, roly poly, I’m an asshole goal celebration.  And yes, he does have an accent that suggests he might mess you up for looking at his bird.
But at least he seems to love his football. And he seemed to love Liverpool. And yet the two couldn’t be reconciled, either because Rafa Benitez never fancied him to fit in and was prepared to leave him on the bench as a power play in his contract struggles, or because Irish players seem to have been cursed at the club since Graeme Souness took over in the not-to-be-spoken about era of the 90s.

Hee has the right kwall-ities and ees a very good profethional no?

Hee has the right kwall-ities and ees a very good profethional no?

Keane tried his heart out, he ran and ran, as he has always done. He scored tidy finishes and that cracker against Arsenal. And he would have scored more had he been alowed to play more.But the sings were always there. On his debut for Liverpool, getting the chance to play for his boyhood club in the Champions League away at Standard Liege, Liverpool were huffing and puffing at 0-0. An away goal is seen as crucial in the Champions League, albeit Liverpool are the one club that seem to turn 0-0s into aggregate wins with ease. With 67 minutes on the clock, Keane’s time was up and Steven Gerrard awaited to renew his potent partnership with Torres.

The following match against Sunderland, on his league debut with the scores tied at 0-0 and 76 minutes on the clock, Nabil El Zhar readied himself and Keane was withdrawn. Torres would score the winner just minutes later and the tone for Keane’s Liverpool career was set. The match winners were Torres and Gerrard. They were Benitez’s luxury, the ones who he’d leave on because they had that spark to win the game. Keane never fitted into the luxury bracket.

He would break his duck against PSV on October 1. A good finish and a hearty celebration from his teammates. Now the scene was set for him to replicate Crouch, the barren spell over; the goals set to flow. The next game against Manchester City he was on the bench, brought on with 70 minutes gone and Liverpool 2-1 down. 20-odd minutes later the points were secured, 3-2. He started the next game against Atletico, and scored.  He started that Saturday, bang, bang, two tidy finishes and four goals in three starts. Now surely the scene was set for a triumphant return to White Hart Lane in the Carling Cup. However there was no place for Keane in the squad, and Liverpool wnt down 4-2 . The following game against Bolton, with Liverpool one up and 58 minutes on the clock, Keane was taken off. Successive 0-0 home draws against Fulham and West Ham seemed to make up Benitez’ mind. Keane was a luxury he couldn’t afford.

Benitez is a stubborn, stubborn man. He has shown a ruthless streak before and has been right. Players like Josemi, Nunez and even more successful players like Riise and Garcia have been cut before they overstayed their welcome.
However the damage to the club caused by the Robbie Keane affair cannot be underestimated. A likeable character, the Liverpool players have been silent on the issue of his leaving the club. Can the likes of Torres and Gerrard be satisfied that instead of challenging for the title with a proven goalscorer in their squad, the manager has decided getting money for him was the most important option? Are we really to believe that his value would have decreased so much by the summer that Liverpool had to sell now?

Benitez was surely making a point to the Anfield hierarchy. That he was not Benitez’ first choice transfer target cannot be questioned. And neither, it seems, can Benitez. Here was a case whereby he was saying, fine you won’t sign Agger to a long-term deal, you won’t give me control over players, I won’t play the man getting 80,000 a week. You signed him and he hasn’t worked out – the clearest indication that I should be given greater say over who goes in and out of this club.

And he seems to have won. Benitez spoke out against Spurs talking about his player but that may have been a bit of a strike back at them for their comments about the same player when Liverpool tried to sign him. What is certain is that Benitez won’t be dictated to and never doubts himself. He claims that he was chatting to Keane long after the Chelsea game in the dressing room as if that was a way of proving they had a good relationship when in reality that was the pair saying their goodbyes. Keane hardly woke up the next morning and found out that he was being sold. He was already on a train to London.

Only time will tell what effect this has on Liverpool’s season. One thing is certain, they are looking very lightweight up front. Torres seemed to be rested for an awfully long time, wrapped in cotton wool for as long as was humanly possible until the January window came around. Could Benitez have been preparing to let Keane go? Perhaps he was looking at other players to replace him, only to find out he wouldn’t be given the funds from the transfer (seeing as how Liverpool have made a significant loss on the deal). Perhaps he was giving Keane a chance as he said he had. However Keane’s non-appearance in a crucial period of games for Liverpool showed a lack of trust and a killer instinct that could see Benitez being remembered for a lot of the wrong reasons when his next biography is written…..

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