David Showell

He came, he saw, he snarled at reporters. Roy Keane, legendary midfielder, inspirational captain and well-known dog-walker, was welcomed back into management by the good people at Ipswich Town in 2009, and has just completed his first full season there.

The start of the campaign was a case of Tractor Boys against men as the team struggled to make their mark. A winless August was quickly followed by a winless September, and the club almost had a hat-trick but for an eventual triumph on the last day of October.

Keane’s post-match interviews became ever more tense as questions were met with the trademark withering stare. A 1-0 win over Derby was enough to break their duck, and at last the team were on their way. Although performances were never exactly earth-shattering, they were at least improving.

By the end of the season, the club had managed 12 league wins to go with their 14 defeats, and although that sounds poor, it wasn’t too bad after such a terrible start. Whatever Keane was telling the lads in his team-talks, and one suspects it was pretty x-rated, it must have worked.

Keane is in a somewhat better position than many of his Championship contemporaries, and should be able to call on transfer funds in the summer. How the Irishman uses them could indeed decide the success, or not, of his spell at Portman Road.

A review of the season shows the club are suffering from a little schizophrenia. Defeats to strugglers Peterborough, Crystal Palace and Watford were offset by victories over high-fliers Cardiff, Blackpool and Reading. The performances that were more Charlotte Church than Shirley Temple will at least have given supporters hope for next season.

As for Keane himself, there’s no doubting that his credentials are perfect. Anyone who learned all about the game from Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson has a great head start already, and his intelligence and character will ensure he’ll always be his own man.

Previous, well-documented tiffs will perhaps worry one or two of the faithful, but the fact that Keane seems to be happy and settled in Suffolk will allay many fears. He appears to be the sort of man who needs to be comfortable in his surroundings, and to have good working relationships with those around him.

2010/11 will be an interesting season in the Championship. With all due respect to the teams that are in there, it was widely expected that this season’s success stories would be at West Bromwich and Newcastle, However, next season there doesn’t appear to be any nailed-on favourites for promotion.

Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull City will be dropping from the Premier League, and none of them are likely to run away with things. It may be that two promoted clubs, Leeds and Norwich, will be more successful.

How the Ipswich fans will want Keane to make sure the Tractor Boys are up there, too, especially if those Carrow Road Canaries are setting the pace. What price an East Anglia 1-2?


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