Gary Neville, the former Manchester United and England defender, believes Roy Keane is a significantly smaller managerial “risk” for clubs now than at any stage of his coaching career.
Having soldiered alongside Keane for 12 years at Old Trafford, Neville developed an affinity with the Irishman, who captained the club from 1997 until his controversial departure from United in 2005.
Controversy quickly followed Keane into management, where he had mixed success, Sunderland being an initially positive experience, Ipswich Town a negative one. Since then, he enjoyed a high profile position as Martin O’Neill’s assistant with Ireland and has made it clear that he’d like to resume his career in the dug-out.
And now Neville, who lunched with Keane in Dublin yesterday ahead of a promotional appearance for Cadburys, has advised clubs to enroll Keane on their payroll, insisting the Cork man is approaching his “managerial prime”.
“In fairness to Roy he still wants to manage or coach,” Neville said.
“He is passionate about it. For me, he’s an authoritative figure, as well as being an experienced coach who has done it at international level as well as at club level.
“In fact, it is actually getting to a point where I see him coming into his prime because he has come through the first ten years of learning and coaching in management.
“That, to be fair, can be a difficult experience for anybody. Very few coaches hit the ground running. I didn’t when I was at Valencia.
“Others – you think of the career paths of Neil Warnock, Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, they put the years in. They stuck at it. They survived 30 years of the game, survived bumps, knocks, obstacles along the way. But they got through them and kept on going.
“Now, with regard to Roy, he is as experienced and as qualified as he has ever been in his life. So why would he be a risk as head coach now? I don’t see how he can be.”
It is another Keane who Neville believes is taking a minor risk by triple-jobbing. Having been impressed by the impact Roy’s namesake, Robbie Keane, made as a player, Neville has watched his evolution into a coach and a pundit with interest.
His advice, however, is that Ireland’s former international captain is biting off more than he can chew, combining coaching work with Ireland and Middlesbrough with occasional appearances as a pundit.
“What I would say to Robbie is that he has to commit,” Neville said.
“I’ve seen him coaching Ireland, doing Sky work, working at Middlesbrough. Look I’ve been there and done that and know how hard it is. If he wants to be a coach then he has to 100% be thinking about it every single minute of every single day, that’s not to say he can’t do the odd appearance in the media.
“At the end of the day it’s up to him, but I don’t think you can do both. Yes, as a young man, he can coach both club and country, especially as he is a young man. But when you combine personal interests, family, club work, international duties, media appearances, all of a sudden it becomes very demanding on your time and something gets compromised along the way.
“I burned the candle at both ends after retiring and it was madness really, it was madness.”