On this week in Town’s history: Fans vent their fury towards Roy Keane
Football writer Carl Marston looks back on ‘This week in Town’s history’ from 10 years ago, and finds that the knives are finally out for Roy Keane
For all Roy Keane’s failings, Ipswich Town supporters did not actually begin to turn against their high-profile manager until 18 months into his reign, during this same week from 10 years ago.
Town had actually propelled themselves into the Championship play-off zone the previous weekend, with an impressive 2-1 win at Bramall Lane, to accompany their progression into the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup – such a position is the stuff of dreams for Town fans these days!
Yet a week is a long time in football, and this week back in 2010 was a case in point.
In fact, that’s just how I started my match report for Town’s 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Barnsley, on November 13, 2010, with the familiar phrase – ‘a week can be a very long time in football.’
Troubled Barnsley, flirting with relegation at the other end of the table, were good value for the victory, the pressure lifting off manager Mark Robins’ shoulders and being dumped onto the shoulders of Keane instead.
The Tykes were 3-0 up inside 50 minutes, through goals by Goran Lovre and Garry O’Connor, sandwiching an own goal by keeper Maron Fulop, meaning that Tommy Smith’s 81st minute headed goal from Carlos Edwards’ corner was a mere consolation.
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On the back of Monday’s edition of this newspaper, I asked the question: was this a ‘landmark day, or just another low point in a rollercoaster season?’
Well, with Keane eventually to leave Portman Road less than two months later, I would suggest that it was a ‘landmark day,’ especially as a large section of home fans had vented their anger towards the boss during the defeat to Barnsley.
I always thought that the majority of Town fans showed remarkable restraint in criticising Keane, especially after his torrid first season (2009-10) which yielded no wins from their first 14 league fixtures.
It must be remembered that is was all happening to the backdrop of achieving one goal – promotion to the Premier League – hence the big cash made available to Keane by owner Marcus Evans.
The seeds of doubt, already sowed, began to really sprout during that home defeat to Barnsley. The players were booed off at half-time, and again at full-time.
I also recall the angry reaction when striker Tamas Priskin (who let’s be frank had a largely unsuccessful time at Portman Road!) was hauled off by Keane after an hour despite a rare man-of-the-match display.
Priskin’s substitution was greeted by howls of derision from home supporters, a remarkable turn of events seeing as though the Hungarian had proved a big under-achiever since his £1.7million arrival from Watford the previous summer.
There was the familiar footballing chant of – ‘ ‘you don’t know what you’re doing!’ – which echoed around Portman Road following Priskin’s withdrawal.
Furthermore, there was also the bizarre scenario of some home fans, no doubt thoroughly fed up with their team’s woeful display, starting to cheer Barnsley players every time they completed a pass.
You know something is very wrong, when that starts to happen! Water off a duck’s back to Keane, of course, but still not a good sign.
In short, this week, 10 years ago, was when the anti-Keane voices began to be heard.
Naturally, the Irishman still had a lot of supporters on his side, and the pro-Keane camp still had some persuasive arguments:
1 Town were still just two points adrift of the Championship play-offs
2 The likes of Gareth McAuley, David Norris and Grant Leadbitter were all missing for the Barnsley match, all key players during Keane’s tenure
3 Town had a League Cup quarter-final against West Brom to look forward to, and so were just two steps away from a possible Wembley visit
And yet, the anti-Keane camp could reply with:
1 Performances had been uninspiring
2 Progress had been too slow over the last 18 months
3 Money had been spent, and wasted, on ineffective players
As we all now know, Keane’s days were indeed numbered.
His two-year contract was set to expire at the end of the season, but he never survived that long.