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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

What next for Roy Keane's managerial career after Republic of Ireland exit?

Martin O'Neill and his assistant have left their roles by mutual consent

Roy Keane before Ireland's goal-less draw with Denmark on Monday. Action Images via Reuters
Roy Keane before Ireland's goal-less draw with Denmark on Monday. Action Images via Reuters

Among the fantastically entertaining stories in Roy Keane's second autobiography Second Half is a passage during his disastrous spell as Ipswich Town manager.

It's fair to say that Keane didn't settle to the sleepier way of life in East Anglia after his years spent winning trophies with one of the biggest club's in the world in Manchester.

Other than his side's appalling results, his dislike of the way transfers were dealt with and just how friendly everyone was, he was particularly irked by the colour of the kit.

“Rangers, City, sorry, I can’t be doing with blue,” he said in an interview following the release of the book in 2014. “Childish? Yeah, obviously. But I did once say to the owner, ‘Any chance we might be able to change the colour of the kit?’

“He said, ‘Nah, there’d be uproar’. Which at Ipswich meant four people taking to the streets.”

Keane is now out of a job after his spell as assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland came to an end on Wednesday. Manager Martin O'Neill also left with the pair having been appointed in 2013. Ireland haven't won a competitive game this year and were relegated from Uefa Nations League Group B4.

In O'Neill's parting statement he describes Keane as "an inspirational figure in the world of football".

Despite this "inspirational" perception, it is questionable as to how Keane will now rebuild his managerial career - that's if he even wants to.

Apart from his miraculous first season at Sunderland when he took them from the relegation zone to promotion to the Premier League and then kept them there the following season, nothing about Keane's recent past suggests he is cut out for top-level management.

Ipswich, as mentioned, is best left forgotten. After that came the Republic role and a brief spell as No 2 at Aston Villa.

But it is what happens off the pitch as much as on it which has scarred Keane's reputation.

FILE PHOTO: Former Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane and manager Martin O'Neill at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland - Oct 16, 2018. Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley/File Photo
Roy Keane with former Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Action Images via Reuters

This year saw the rumpus involving Ireland players Harry Arter and Jonathan Walters (with whom Keane has history - graphically played out in his book), and an audio message from fellow player Stephen Ward which describes the heated incident.

Keane's knowledge of what happens on the pitch has rarely come into question. His television work has shown his eye for detail, his appreciation of players with ability and a hunger to win.

In the back of the mind, however, plays out the image of him karate kicking the tactics board while at Sunderland, and having some argy-bargy in his office with Walters at Ipswich.

In this era of mega-money TV deals and the need for short-term fixes to stave off the financial threat of relegation, Keane may be considered by a club needing a firebrand to jolt its players into action. But for a man who probably wouldn't want the risk of relegation on his CV, or need the personal income, this is an unlikely move.

There was talk of him being the heir to O'Neill as Ireland manager. Mick McCarthy has emerged as the early favourite to take the job, and he of course is another reminder of Keane's volatility after their infamous blow-out in Saipan ahead of the 2002 World Cup.

Could managing in China, France or Spain be the answer to kick-start Keane's managerial career? Or does he want to put this chapter to bed and be remembered for what he achieved as a player rather than his failures as a manager?

If Keane doesn't resurface again in football, he has least provided us with almost endless entertainment and drama.

And one thing's for sure - he won't be actively seeking out a team that plays in blue.

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