Keane has always led from the front, always had the strongest, most aggressive, opinions. Time now for him to start raising that voice in the dressing room, or he could find himself out of a job. His immediate superior, manager Paul Lambert, doesn’t appear able to put together a side that can scatter the gloom settling over Villa Park.
It is nearly 50 years since Villa suffered such a poor run of results. It appears to be worsening week by week, with the kind of fixtures coming up that could make the situation even more harrowing. Keane has never been short of opinions, never backed down from a challenge. A fearsome competitor as a player, he was brought into Villa to inspire with his aggressive commitment.
Lambert has leaned on him for support, but it appears it has not been forthcoming, and Villa’s American owners are not likely tolerate this situation for much longer. This is where Lambert needs Keane, the most driven man in football over the last 20 years. Now is the time to transfer what he did on the pitch to what he can do off it.
For, by this time next week, Villa could be in the bottom three in the table, with star man Christian Benteke banned for the next three games, after slapping Tottenham’s Ryan Mason. If Villa lack quality, they more than make up for that in effort, but they have become an undisciplined team, and Keane has got to get them to focus more on how they play as a unit when the pressure is at its most fierce.
Overcome by the necessity to win this match against Spurs, they lost their heads and paid the ultimate price. For a man so aggressively minded, Keane showed very little animation on the bench. You wondered why. This, after all, is a man who stresses he would like to return to management one day. The auditioning has begun already.
This week Villa are at West Ham, then they face Southampton. Both these teams are making an impact in the league. Then, Villa are away at Burnley, the only team so far not to have won a match. In the early weeks of December, they face Crystal Palace and then Leicester, both of whom are also in trouble.
Villa will not allow this situation to carry if by then they are not on their way to safety. But they cannot score goals and cannot defend, and they are also unable to keep control of situations. Where is Keane’s guidance as his manager’s right hand man? Right now, you wouldn’t give Lambert a price on keeping his job for much longer. Time for Keane to show he has the strongest words for the most serious of situations.
You would have thought a man of his red-faced commitment would be able to sort out a team in desperate need of a leader. They are struggling and it shows. If Lambert were to be removed from his job, it is virtually certain that his assistant would leave with him. It all seems such a waste.
Keane is one of the most fearsome competitors the game has known. Here is a man who has always intimidated and frightened people. It is time he instilled some of that fear in the Villa dressing room.