Keane and his beard

THE beard is back – and that may tell us more than any words ever could about how Roy Keane is feeling at the moment.

THE beard is back – and that may tell us more than any words ever could about how Roy Keane is feeling at the moment.

Tellingly, the unshaven look made a comeback at Preston – it was often implied, during his spell as Sunderland manager, that an unshaven Keane was an unhappy Keane.

The bullish approach has certainly gone, following a soul-destroying run of six league defeats on the spin, and even worse – a dismal nine defeats in 11 league games.

Iain Hume’s 50th minute goal was enough to earn bottom club Preston North End a 1-0 win at Deepdale on Saturday. It was only their fifth win of the season but, worryingly for Town, they won with a degree of comfort.

Keane was almost going through the motions at another post-match Press conference, clearly reeling from yet another bruising defeat.

He is hurting badly, but instead of declaring that a change of fortunes is just around the corner – “there is no quick fix” – and that he is staying positive, the Irishman seemed to be resigned to his fate.

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Not that he is about to admit defeat and throw in the towel – Keane did not mention resignation on Saturday – and not that owner Marcus Evans is on the verge of sacking him.

But the overall sense was of a man realising that Town are approaching a point of no return. The rot has set in.

Asked how he kept resilient, Keane replied: “That’s a good question. Sometimes you don’t.

“It is hurting unbelievably, yes, you wouldn’t believe how much it’s hurting, but you can try and guess. I’m a proud man and I don’t like getting beaten.

“I’m still absolutely determined to turn it around. But whether I will be given the time, that’s out of my control. I agree that it’s getting harder and harder. Nine defeats in 11, at any level, in any league, in any country, that is not good enough.”

And asked whether he wanted to see the job through, there was a long pause before Keane replied, almost in a whisper: “Yep.”

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