Robbie Keane’s popularity with our fans now seems to be on a par with that of Jermaine Jenas. A couple of seasons ago, you couldn’t imagine that scenario, but since hotfooting it to Liverpool, before promptly hotfooting it back to White Hart Lane, Keane’s popularity has fallen dramatically.
Since returning to the fold, he hasn’t been his old self, but that’s understandable. Anyone would have had their confidence knocked under the circumstances and he returned to find Berbatov gone, a player that created as many chances for others, as he scored himself.
I will never quite feel the same as I did about Keane before he left for Liverpool, but I still support him as a player and recognise his strengths. I don’t think that Harry made the right decision to name him as captain. We should have left it to Ledley until there was a better candidate for the role, but now Keane’s got the job, it’s unlikely that it will be taken off him (for this season at least).
A lot of people seem to think that the captaincy has made Keane undroppable. I personally think that it’s just the case that Harry likes him as a player and will generally want him in his team. The decision to play him on the left against Manchester United, had more to do with the fact that Modric was injured and Kranjcar had only had one training session with the team, rather than any supposed contractual clauses prohibiting Keane from starting on the bench.
One of the reasons that we struggled against United, was because we missed Keane’s ability to drop back to make a fifth player in midfield. Crouch and Defoe make for an isolated partnership. We can get away with playing them together against the lesser teams, but against the top sides, then I’d always start with Keane and Defoe.
That’s something I’d never imagine writing, because it never seemed as if the two could play alongside each other. Whilst they still don’t exactly resemble Lineker and Beardsley, the Defoe/Keane partnership works a lot better these days because Jermain now looks a lot stronger and more able to lead the line on his own.
So if Celtic come sniffing round with a paltry £7m in January, expect Harry to tell them to do one. Because even if most of our fans no longer seem able to appreciate the talents of Robbie Keane, our manager knows exactly what he brings to the side.