Keane on a knife-edge

LOSE at basement dwellers Preston this weekend and any normal manager would be facing the chop.

But not necessarily Roy Keane.

And that’s not just because of Roy Keane, the man, the almost larger-than-life character, but also because of the Irishman’s unique relationship with the club’s reclusive owner, Marcus Evans.

It is Mr Evans who will decide Keane’s fate, and although he WAS at Portman Road to witness Saturday’s soul-destroying 3-1 defeat to Swansea City, he may consider that it’s worth sticking by his man.

The arguments continue to rage, between supporters, about whether Keane should be axed straight away, or given yet more time, perhaps until after the exciting Cup duels with Chelsea and Arsenal.

The dissenters have a strong case:

1 Five league defeats in a row (first time for 15 years), and eight defeats in 10 league games

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2 Shrinking attendances. Saturday’s 16,978 was the smallest league gate for 11 years

3 Keane’s own omission of guilt after Saturday’s defeat: “I’m not blaming the players. If anything I need to receive criticism because ultimately I’m the man picking the team. The buck stops with me. There are no excuses. We have no one to blame but ourselves.”

4 Continually strange team selections – Damien Delaney, Town’s most experienced defender in the absence of the injured Gareth McAuley, was left out of the squad altogether.

But loyalists also have a case:

1 In the Carling Cup semi-finals for only the fourth time in the club’s history

2 Injuries galore, particularly to key defender McAuley

3 Robbed of a penalty on Saturday, for Mark Gower’s challenge on Carlos Edwards, which could have made it 2-2

4 It’s only a month ago that Town were in the top six.

As for my opinion, I think that sometimes Keane is too honest for his own good, certainly in terms of his plain speaking to the media.

But I for one hope he stays a little longer. Over to you, Mr Evans.

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