So Robbie Keane is back at Spurs. The sum was £12m a loss of £8m or so it seems. However, surely there is an even bigger loss to the club in terms of the way Keane was treated and what it says to players who might be considering joining Liverpool in the future?
Why was Robbie Keane different from other players who have come to L4 and then gone? Obviously there is the price, £20m. However, I guess every fan wants players that really want to play for the club, Carragher’s, Gerrards etc. Keane’s enthusiasm and delight at joining the club he supported as a boy was clear. Sadly it soon turned to puzzlement and frustration. He looks like a person who wears his heart on his sleeve. This could have been for the good of the club. Instead it manifested itself via his obvious disappointment every time he missed a chance, every time he was benched or substituted. One felt for him desperately. He was not allowed to play, not given enough opportunity to recreate his form at Spurs to, at the risk of sounding naff, live out his dream.
There also Keane’s experience, he’s played at the top level for a long time, in the World Cup and he is the Republic of Ireland’s all time top scorer. So, could Rafa have done more to accommodate him? Is the system Rafa wants to employ so inflexible, so rigid that Keane could not be accommodated? Surely it is not a case of “Player A” fits into “Slot A”, remember this is a man who has a reputation for rotation? Could Rafa have shown more patience, let Keane get used to the system, find his feet? Or did he feel, with the title challenge in full tilt, that he had no time to do this? If we win the title will Keane’s sale be seen in a different light?
On the other side, perhaps Keane was such a “one trick pony” that he could not compromise or adapt to Rafa’s tactics, his way of playing? Perhaps he was nervous about playing for a so called big four club particularly one he supported? Perhaps there was a clash with Gerrard not personally but in terms of position and style of play. Where the two so similar that they couldn’t be accommodated? Was Keane’s style of play for want of a better phrase “an acquired taste” a luxury that doesn’t fit into conventional formations, is it any co-incidence that Keane has now played for six different clubs? Or did he just play cr*p or, worse still, did we need the money?
It’s been suggested that Rafa never wanted Keane, Gareth Barry was his main target, and that he was being used as a pawn in the ongoing contract negotiations in which the sticking point was Rafa’s demands over the control of transfers. Perhaps Rafa was using Keane to demonstrate the notion that “you can control the signings but I don’t have to play them?”
The answer to all these questions is I don’t know. Although selections speak louder than words Rafa’s responses to the numerous questions about Keane didn’t let on much and the player himself has been professional to the end in terms of his statements. We can only surmise.
All I do know is that Robbie Keane had the potential to become a great Liverpool player. I thought he was made for the club, however, for whatever reason he didn’t fit. The feeling is that we have missed out, could have done more to make it work, shown more patience. The likes of Josemi, Voronin, Bellamy and Gonzalez stayed for longer than Keane but was he any worse than them? Was he really so bad? Did he really present such a problem that we were willing to take what seems to be loss on the deal, leave ourselves one player short up front for the remainder of the season and indulge in a stunt that will subject the club, and more specifically Rafa, to more critical scrutiny?
If the answer is “yes” then why the f**k did we sign him in the first place? What was the issue? Surely there is more to it than Robbie Keane just being bad?