As the beard goes, so goes the man. At least, that’s the maxim we’re applying to Roy Keane and Aston Villa. Last month, the Manchester United great shaved this diseased muscat from his face. Now the man who was also serving as Republic of Ireland assistant manager is walking away from the same role at Villa Park.
“Ultimately, my roles with Villa and Ireland and combining my commitment to these have become too much,” was Keane’s explanation. “It isn’t fair to either Villa or Ireland, so I’ve made this decision.”
Given one of Keane’s defining characteristics is an unapologetic, occasionally frightening form of honest, one that transcends both self-awareness and doubt, there’s no reason to question how he feels. Still, with Villa sitting 16th in the Premier League (sporting the league’s worst attack in the process) there is a part of this that feels very Billy Zane in the lifeboat as the ship’s going down; or, the rebels leaving Peeta behind at the end of Catching Fire (if the most-watched movie of all time-reference was too obscure for you).
Where was I? Oh, yes: Roy Keane. If he was really spread too thin with the Aston Villa job, this might not only be the right thing to do but help Villa, provided Paul Lambert can get some competent help. This, of course, is part of another debate about the value of assistants, one that makes you remember: We’re only talking about this because Roy Keane’s involved.
Even then, there may be something in this. If general option held Keane’s big plan was to get another full manager’s job, this debunks that, as nobody who wants a big club job would choose a national team’s assistant role over one in the Premier League. That Keane did tells us he’s fine with a smaller role in soccer, one that probably allows for a greater balance between his main job and everything else he wants to do, both in and out of the game.
And when Martin O’Neill moves back into club life after sneaking Ireland into Euro 2016 or resigns after not doing so (let’s pretend there’s no middle ground), Keane can decide if we wants to take on more responsibility. As long as he doesn’t blow up at any of FAI officials between now and then, Keane should get a chance at the job, thus moving him one step closer to his true passion: Making sure Mick McCarthy never manages Ireland again.