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Old United pals may open Salford door for Keane return to frontline management


Roy Keane. Photo: PA

Roy Keane. Photo: PA

Roy Keane. Photo: PA

As Roy Keane sat perched alongside his former Manchester United team-mates Gary Neville and Paul Scholes watching Salford City's game against Tranmere at the weekend, collective eyebrows were duly raised.

When the club parted company with manager Graham Alexander soon after, the conspiracy theorists moved into overdrive.

While Salford co-owner Scholes has been placed in temporary charge of first team matters for now, the rumours are mounting that Keane is emerging as a strong contender to take on the role permanently in a move that would end his nine-year wait for a return to frontline management.

Keane has made no secret of his desire to get back into the game in a management role, yet he has also admitted that opportunities may be few and far between for a giant of the game whose reputation has been battered be an image that his personality is not conducive to working with modern day players.

High profile fall-out with team-mates and managers in his playing days have been backed up by explosive run-ins with players during his time as manager of Sunderland, Ipswich and then as assistant manager at Aston Villa and with the Republic of Ireland national team.

Yet this could be the opportunity Keane has been waiting for to make a return, with allies in the boardroom looking for a manager who could provide the X Factor a character of Keane's gravitas can provide.

While many club chairman would run scared of Keane's firebrand image, the Salford City co-owners that also include Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville view Keane in a different light and that is generally the case when you speak to his former United team-mates.

"Skip is a legend, I won't have a word said against him," said former United striker Andy Cole, as he spoke to the Sunday World about Keane earlier this month.

"I always had a good relationship with Roy and however people want to portray him and criticism him, I'd just say he is a real, real special guy.

"I'm only judging him on how he has treated me, the conversations we have had and I know that he is always there on the end of the phone if I need anything. Skip is a real good guy.

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"If it is a problem for the modern day player to be spoken to in the way Roy can speak to you, I can't help them.

"In my days playing, you were told what time to turn up for training and you were expected to give your all in every session. If you can't digest that, you will struggle.

"You don't have a lot of characters like that in dressing rooms any more. He would say what he thinks and it might get under people's skin at times and people might not like that.

"He might still get another chance in management, you never know what's around the corner. I think he could do a great job if he is given the right backing by the right club."

The idea of Roy Keane leading a club that boasts a modest fan base and will face trips to footballing outposts like Forest Green, Stevenage, Crawley and Barrow this season may not seem like the natural fit for an A-list operator of Keane's gravtias, but this may be the moment he has been waiting for.

One of Ireland's greatest sporting leaders of all-time may need a little help from his friends to get back into management, but it could be a perfect fit for a winner who will have all the aces in his hand if he takes over at Salford.

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