In Keane we trust

ROY Keane last week questioned whether he has been ruthless enough during his time as Ipswich Town manager.

The likes of David Wright and Owen Garvan might argue he has too often shown that characteristic as he has yielded the axe – both in terms of the starting line-up and ultimately with his decision to dispense of players.

In Keane’s one-and-a-half years in Suffolk, the manager has sold or released more than an entire first team squad.

Of the 22 no longer at Portman Road, there will be a disgruntled few who thought they were not given a proper chance while there will be others glad to get away from Keane’s style of management.

But there is little argument in the fact that the manager has generally got it right.

Jordan Rhodes is the big one he got wrong (see below) while the jury remains out on David Wright and Jon Stead. But that means for 19 of the 22 players Keane has got rid of the decision has, in hindsight, been the right one.

Owen Garvan and Pablo Counago might have their supporters but neither would surely get into the current team while young guns Danny Haynes and Dean Bowditch had potential but that was ultimately not enough.

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Jon Walters is the one exception as the solo stand-out player who wanted to leave Portman Road but who most would like to have stayed at the club. It is something you would whisper quietly, given the Stoke man’s recent unwelcome outbursts, but Walters would be a steadying influence in the current side – as Keane has alluded to.

Today I highlight four of Keane’s big decisions over who departed from Portman Road I reckon it proves he can be trusted in making the big decisions in the January transfer window.

- Pablo Counago: Spot on.

“OLE, Ole, Ole, Pablo”. Even as a fringe player, the fans’ favourite still provided great memories – as a 97th-minute winner against Coventry testifies. But, and this is with a heavy heart, any regular last season could see Counago’s days were numbered. It seems likely that he and Keane did not always see eye to eye but the simple fact is that Pablo is no longer good enough. Keane was right to let him go out on loan to Crystal Palace, as he was to let another favourite go there – Owen Garvan. Surely any rumour of Counago returning in January is simply laughable, unless it is for the popular Spaniard to be sold. Spot on, Mr Keane.

- Jon Stead: Spot on.

A MORE difficult one this. On the terraces, Stead was a bit like Marmite – having supporters and detractors alike. Roy Keane claims to be among the former, regularly saying he wished he could have kept hold of ‘Steady’. But this was a striker who Keane sold at Sunderland, loaned out to Coventry last season and then finally sold him to Bristol City. Never a prolific goalscorer, Stead has not changed that at City – his five goals in 15 starts is about par for the course for the striker. Keane had to decide between Stead and Tamas Priskin, one was always likely to go. Keane just about got this right for me.

- David Wright: Jury’s out.

GIVEN the full-back’s experience, Keane’s decision not to offer David Wright a new contract at the end of last season was arguably his most controversial call. The player himself spoke of his devastation at leaving Portman Road before signing for Crystal Palace. A dependable, if somewhat unspectacular, defender, there would have been much moaning about Wright’s absence when the likes of Tom Eastman was having a torrid time earlier in the season. But if the club can extend Gianni Zuiverloon’s loan spell, then Keane will have a more attacking right-back while there is an argument that Wright wouldn’t even be second choice because of Jaime Peters. Just about the right call for me.

- Jordan Rhodes: Keane’s big howler.

Ah Jordan, one of the most popular Ipswich Town forwards to barely play for the club. If ever there was a stick to beat Roy Keane with, it would be marked with the signature of the 20-year-old from Oldham. He made just 10 appearances for Ipswich before he was shipped out for an undisclosed/paltry fee to Huddersfield where he has since scored 33 goals in 67 starts. No one can ever truly predict how he would have fared in the Championship last season – getting near his 19 league goals would have been unlikely. But bettering top scorer Jon Walters’ eight goals? Highly likely. Roy, this is your one big blunder.

Players who have left under Roy Keane

- Owen Garvan - (current side) Crystal Palace

- Pim Balkestein - Brentford

- Jon Walters - Stoke

- Jon Stead - Bristol City

- Richard Wright - Sheffield United

- Alex Bruce - Leeds

- Tommy Miller - Sheffield Wednesday

- Jai Reason - Braintree Town

- Billy Clarke - Blackpool

- Danny Haynes - Bristol City

- Chris Casement - Linfield

- Dan Harding - Southampton

- Dean Bowditch - Yeovil

- Jordan Rhodes - Huddersfield

- Velice Shumulikoski - Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia)

- Liam Trotter - Millwall

- David Wright - Crystal Palace

- Ed Upson - Yeovil

- Matt Richards - Walsall

- Ivan Campo - retired

- Shane Supple - retired

- Ben Thatcher - released

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