Keane clinging on amid Ipswich wobble
Roy Keane trudges off the Portman Road sidelines, hands in pockets, after Ipswich’s fifth consecutive Championship defeat. It is a familiar scene, one becoming an all too regular occurrence for fans of the Suffolk club following an alarming run of form as they slide down the table. Joe Brewin assesses the mood at Portman Road.
Simply put, Roy Keane is a man under pressure at Ipswich Town. A man whose name used to reverberate around the Stretford End as a combative midfield icon for Manchester United is now seemingly being dragged through the dirt as his managerial career takes yet another awkward turn.
Profoundly frank and often brutally honest, Keane has built up a reputation as a media favourite thanks to his well-documented temperament. The Irishman’s wealth of pride builds a direct approach to footballing matters, so today’s assessment of the club’s situation comes as little surprise from a man who stresses his presence in the ‘real world’.
“As much as we can blame individual mistakes I’m ultimately the manager, I pick the team, I brought some of the players in,” he said.
“We can’t keep making these excuses and there will be a point where we say ‘enough is enough’.”
But enough for who? It would not be unreasonable to suggest that pressure follows him around, never more so than at Ipswich under the watchful eye of ambitious owner Marcus Evans. Keane has previously stressed that he is not seeking a vote of confidence from the man at the top, but soon something may have to give.
If the embarrassment of a heavy reverse at Carrow Road to fierce rivals Norwich wasn’t enough for Ipswich and their supporters, the defeat which racked up five on the consecutive total at the hands of Swansea will have certainly added another straw to the camel’s back.
It was a game which the Tractor Boys could well have taken home three points, following a first half littered with wasted openings. The match looked to have taken a turn for the better when Andros Townsend headed them into an early second-half lead.
However, some poor set-piece work at the back, coupled with Tommy Smith’s woeful definition of defending, condemned Keane and his side to another loss. Craig Beattie’s superb strike with just under five minutes remaining was simply the icing on a bitterly unwanted cake.
Admittedly, Keane’s side could have had a penalty when Carlos Edwards went down under a challenge from Mark Gower in the moments prior to Beattie’s second goal. Such decisions are currently going against Ipswich, though, underlining the uphill struggle that faces the man from Cork.
“I don’t think at the moment we are a team capable of going on a run. We see it with other teams, but for us the gap is only going to get wider, because we have a tough run of games coming up,” Keane admitted after the Carrow Road horror show.
“With injuries, we don’t look like we’re going to score many goals; we’re a long way off the play-offs.”
The already thin ice walked by Keane is beginning to crack. Marcus Evans has ploughed too much of his own money into his attempts to make Ipswich Town a force in the Championship to accept anything less than success.
The brief respite of an impressive Carling Cup run which has taken Ipswich to a semi-final clash against Arsenal may be keeping hopes alive in Suffolk, but for most it will probably not be enough.
With his contract set to expire in the summer there is a lot of work to be done between now and May if Portman Road is to be restored to its former glories.
Keane is unlikely to walk out the door as he did during his mixed spell in charge of Sunderland, but with just over four months of the season remaining his future really is hanging in the balance.