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New Bhoy Rob had no option

ROBBIE KEANE didn't have many choices in the end. Expediency and realism sent him up the motorway from Spurs Lodge for a midnight unveiling at Celtic Park.

As can be seen from the excerpt above from David Friel's breathless reporting of Keane's arrival at Parkhead on the Celtic website, this is a big deal in Glasgow and of course in Ireland but in the grand scheme of things, it hardly amounts to a hill of beans.

Just a year after he returned to White Hart Lane, an unwitting pawn in an Anfield power play, Keane rolled up after a long drive north to a hero's welcome at a moment when the club desperately needs new icons.


Thousands braved icy temperatures to be there and offered Keane a taste of what lies ahead if he can supply Tony Mowbray with goals. Keane spoke of how delighted he was to fulfil a boyhood dream, his words almost the same as those used when he posed with Rafa Benitez for the obligatory scarf around shoulders shot.

No doubt both clubs were the subject of Keane's ambitious daydreams when he was a kid but if he had his choice now, he would still be at Anfield.

For this transfer window his options were straightforward; sit tight at Spurs, bank the wages and fight for his place; take a spin across town to Upton Park and play in Spurs' shadow for the rest of the season at the wrong end of the table; head to Celtic for four months and enjoy the ride.

Spurs have nothing to play for other than fourth spot in the Premier League and no Cup or European fixtures for Redknapp to use as squad steam valves.

Once Redknapp moved to poach Eidur Gudjohnsen from under Gianfranco Zola's nose, it must have been painfully obvious to Keane that he would be a bit player for the rest of the season.

Whether Keane's seasonal side trip to Dublin had any impact on Redknapp's thinking or not, the Irish skipper has been sitting on the bench for most of the games played since Malahide and now he's up in Scotland. If Redknapp's believed that his authority was undermined, it's no longer an issue.

So, with the possibility of playing his way back into the Spurs team becoming more problematic by the week, Keane must have considered a permanent move within the Premier League.

But anyone who wanted to sign him had to take on the weight of an A-list salary and a fee to Spurs which would have topped the £10m mark.

Take the Chris Smalling deal between Manchester United and Fulham out of the January window total and you're left with a grand total of £18m spent. Nobody was shovelling any significant money into the January market and even a loan deal to a club like West Ham carried little appeal.


Which left Celtic and a hero's welcome. He'll score goals in the SPL and the faithful will adore him but it's an admission of defeat of sorts. As a young lad, he must have believed that his best years would deliver Champions League football, Premier League titles and World Cup finals.

Liverpool briefly supplied his heart's desire and Spurs currently occupy the final Champions League qualification spot but while Redknapp and his players try to fend off allcomers, Keane will be scoring against Hamilton and St Mirren -- with a couple of Old Firm frenzies to spice things up.

Of course everything is relative and the sound of Celtic fans belting out "There's only one Keano" for the second time in five years must have lifted Robbie's spirits.

If he chooses to remain at Celtic over the long haul, he will get to play Champions League football without any chance of ever winning it and perhaps he will settle for that.

But he should remember that Roy Keane went to Celtic when his body was broken and battered, fulfilling a true desire to wear the hoops before he retired, not in his prime.

Keane's last gasp move to Celtic trumped Stephen Hunt as the big Irish transfer story of the day.

Hull wouldn't sell and Mick McCarthy wasn't happy.

Hunt has become almost as regular an actor in Sky's 'Deadline Day' drama as Keane. From the moment Reading were relegated two seasons back, Hunt tried to return to the Premier League and was so keen to achieve his goal that he allowed his enthusiasm to get the better of him.

This time, Hunt kept a lid on his natural urge to get involved even thought the grapevine suggests he would have been happy to move.

On balance, he was probably right. Hull is hardly the picture of stability, financial or managerial and while the spectre of relegation always seems to haunt McCarthy, Hunt could have renewed his role as provider for Kevin Doyle with some relish, a partnership which was prolific at the Madjeski and could have made a big difference for Wolves.


Hunt is nothing if not game and he will apply himself to his job at Hull, shrugging off the January transfer window and doing everything he can to keep them in the Premier League.

The final day of the window also threw up an excellent move for Leon Best who is now within touching distance of Premier League football himself.

Chris Hughton's steady hand on the Toon tiller has brought with it a calmness rarely seen in Newcastle United's dealings with the outside world and for once, the entire club's energy is focused on football.

Best joins Newcastle on a three-and-a-half year deal and is clearly seen by Hughton as a player capable of operating at the top level -- as he once did for Southampton, briefly, over five years ago.

Providing Hughton and his players hold their nerve and keep piling up points, Best will get another chance and that's good news on any day.