Roy is now is a better manager than he was 10 years ago when he left Ipswich
It doesn’t matter that Roy Keane hasn’t managed a team in ten years, he could still be the perfect fit for Celtic if they decided to go down that route.
I don’t know if it will happen or if the Celtic board already have someone in mind, but the sight of Roy in the dugout at Parkhead, going head to head with Steven Gerrard in a derby, would be brilliant to watch – two people who never held back as players and wouldn’t hold back as managers.
The issue with Roy has always been whether people around him can match his drive and his personality.
Roy is older now and he has mellowed a bit, learned a bit more, and if Celtic – or another club for that matter – decide to hire him, they are getting a Roy Keane that’s better than the one of ten years ago, having been out of the game as manager won’t detract from him at all.
I know it’s decade since he left Ipswich but he has been working since then, as assistant with Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest. He will have learned things from the managers in those roles, Martin O’Neill in the case of Ireland and Forest, and he will be able to bring something to Celtic.
He has also been around football since then, if you are working as a pundit you are still within football – watching games, analysing players, seeing the tactics other managers have.
And to keep up his coaching badges, he will have had to do refresher courses along the way, so he would be up to date with the modern game.
But having mellowed in the last few years, I think he will now find it easier to understand the ways of the modern game compared to when he was at Ipswich.
With the season they’ve had, you’d imagine Celtic would back someone like Roy in terms of transfers and allow him to attract high-quality players, but Roy would also bring a drive and determination to the job.
Celtic have obviously dropped off this year, and there may be reasons for that, but there is still the nucleus of a strong squad there and if Roy went in with two or three good signings – first-team players, not kids – then he would right away have them ready to challenge next season.
Roy knows the club and knows the Scottish league as he played there, which is a help.
And he’s also be able to cope with the media in Scotland, not an easy thing to do given the intense scrutiny you’re under.
You can’t change what makes Roy tick. He drags the best out of people and won’t hold back from making his point. That won’t suit everyone at the club but once he gets the right players in and has the results going his way, no one will care what he’s said in the past. He will be backed if the results are right, problems will only arise if the results are poor.
It’s easy to say that to win the Scottish league you just need to be better than Rangers.... but in reality you need to be better than Ross County and St Mirren and Motherwell too. You need to keep your players at a level where they win those games every week – and Celtic haven’t done that this season – to then make the Rangers games as the season-defining matches.
If you have a consistent side that wins every week, then when it comes to the Old Firm games it will come down to which side has been working the hardest. And if you look at Rangers this season, they seem like a side who work their socks off – they don’t make many mistakes and look strong every week.
So if Roy went in there, if he got a good start to next season and built something up, got them back to winning against the likes of Ross County, then the European matches and the Rangers games are where you earn your keep.
Celtic is a brilliant job. I don’t think people in England really understand what a big club, what a big position, it is.
Celtic have been brilliant for the last nine years, they’ve had one bad year that’s been made even worse because there are no fans there. So they probably need to start again, clear up what’s gone wrong and get back where they were, with that high-intensity football in the league and looking to push on in Europe.
Looking in from England, Celtic won’t be taken seriously until they make inroads in the Champions League again but if they have that European success they can start to attract the top players again, keep the good players they have instead of losing them. It’s not enough to be dominant in Scotland, they need to be competitive in Europe for people to take them seriously.
This Rangers side epitomise Steven Gerrard to me: they are intense, move the ball quickly, play with a real rhythm and that’s what Celtic seem to have lost.
Celtic need a manager to get that back – and that could easily be Roy Keane.
This year should, finally, be the year when Manchester City manage to do what’s eluded them – become a success in the Champions League as well as in the Premier League.
When you look back at how City have done in the Champions League, it’s always come down to individual errors in key games that has cost them: the tie against Monaco four years ago, when they won 5-3 at home, sticks out as it was those goals conceded at home which killed them off.
That’s been their problem, City let themselves down. What’s notable about the current side is how strong they are defensively and they have an excellent chance of winning the Champions League, if they keep up this form.
The Premier League is all but won, so it’s about how they sustain their European form. The Borussia game on Wednesday night was a stroll for them. They are so far ahead of teams like that. I had seen Atletico Madrid as one of the sides who could pose a threat in Europe, but they’ve fallen back a bit so it’s only PSG or Bayern Munich who could cause City trouble.
They are one of the favourites and if they can keep cutting out the individual errors that cost them in the past, it will take a very good side to beat City in Europe.
It’s not easy to compete on two fronts, even more so this year with the issues due to Covid. The likes of PSG have suffered in the past because they had their domestic leagues wrapped up really early. They had lost their rhythm when the business end of the Champions League came around.
City need to keep up their form in the Premier League and they should still get intense games with so many teams fighting to stay up. If they can keep up that intensity, they will be in better shape for the latter stages in the Champions League.
City will get harder battles in the Premier League from the likes of Brighton than PSG will get in Ligue 1, although Real Madrid and Barcelona are having a hard time of it in the Spanish league.
City’s bench is so much stronger than Liverpool’s now, so City can afford to rotate a bit more in the weeks ahead, while also keeping that intensity and focus.
A lot of teams, especially English clubs, struggle when they try to win their own league and win in Europe, but with the mood City are in, if Pep Guardiola can keep them at this level, it will be hard to stop them winning that Champions League title at last.
City are still in the FA Cup and the League Cup, and if they lose out in the three cup competitions it could turn the season upside down so it all comes down to mentality, but City are technically the best team with the level they are at now.
They seem fitter than the rest, defending harder than anyone else, passing better than anyone else – if they can keep that up without those costly lapses in concentration, they can achieve their dreams.