Another Kevin Phillips on our hands?
Keane’s great leadership, locker of skills, and unbelievable agility has been terrorising defences for the last 20 years. Having bagged 194 goals for seven English clubs, as well as 83 goals in 125 games in the MLS and 68 goals for his country, Keane looks to be on the cards for a return to his former manager Redknapp, who he worked with at Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst Redknapp admits that no offer has been made he has praised Keane stating that he’d “be a liar if he said he wouldn’t “love” to have Keane around the club.”
In response to Redknapp, Keane has recently admitted that there are a host of Championship clubs after his signature, but he sees Birmingham as his next move, and we are the challenge he’d spoke about upon leaving LA Galaxy. With this news coming to light, it emerged that there is a mystery player on tour with the Blues and many speculated that this could be Keane. Alternatively, it could just a be youth player who has been promoted to the senior squad. Nothing on the topic has yet materialised, but the possibility of signing Keane on a free has sparked some interest among Bluenoses.
However, not everybody seems to be too ‘Keane’ on the ex-Ireland skippers return to Redknapp. With good reason, many think that Keane might have lost a few steps, whilst he has been training with Irish side Shamrock Rovers to keep fit, his last professional season ended in December of 2016, after his contract expired with LA Galaxy. His 83 goals in 125 games for the Galaxy might appear convincing, although he did only score 10 goals in his last season and it was blighted with a knee injury keeping him sidelined for 5 games. Obviously any doubts surrounding the signing aren’t helped by the controversy of the move, given that he is the product of Wolves academy and has spent a rather fruitful yet short loan spell at our city rivals the Vile, in the two months before the MLS began, he scored 3 goals in 6 games in the top flight.
When you look at Keane another player seems to spring to mind, one we signed in 2008 who went by the name of Kevin Phillips. He joined on a free after rejecting a one year contract and a one year option with West Brom to join the Blues, who had recently been relegated. Both Phillips and Keane have had a similar career in may ways, both have played for the Vile, and Phillips played for midlands rivals West Brom just as Keane has played for our midlands rivals Wolves. Both have had an equally impressive goal scoring record too, scoring 559 goals between them. There was no shortage of controversy surrounding the Phillips move, just as in Keane’s case, but it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t make a good signing, Phillips certainly did.
Phillips joined at the age of 35, helping the Blues bounce back from relegation with an instant promotion back to the Premier League with his 14 goals in 36 appearances. He remained at Blues for the following two seasons in the Premier League, whilst he only made 33 appearances, mostly off the bench he still scored 5 goals. He won over fans with his class displays, and added a wealth of Premier League experience and clear talent and ability to the Blues side. He became renowned as a bit of a super sub, given his age he didn’t always play the full ninety minutes but he all but guaranteed you a goal even when coming off the bench when he was really on form. He scored the goal of the season for Blues (a low drive against Reading) in his very first campaign with the club and scored a celebrated brace agains Midlands rivals Wolves in the Premier League the following season. He also doubled our lead against Reading on the final day of 2007/08 Championship season and thus cemented our promotion to the Premier League, a moment I can still remember vividly, despite only being 6 years old.
Maybe Keane isn’t blessed with the pace that defences once feared, but he also has a brilliant footballing mind and a raw talent for the game. Just like Phillips, his game should be mostly unaffected by his age, since players of a certain ability never really lose touch with the sport; you can find evidence for this just in looking at Phillips, he went in to play four more Championship seasons as well as one Premier League season after leaving Blues, first joining Blackpool, before moving to Crystal Place and then Leicester, where he later became a coach and the following season he became first team coach at Derby County.
Whether you want Keane or not, what is there to lose? He has a fantastic career behind him, he still has a goal scoring touch, he’s a fee transfer and he’d make a perfect super sub. He has no shortage of leadership quality having captained the Republic of Ireland for ten years of his 17 years of international service, and with such experience he can breed a great deal of respect for himself among the rest of the squad, many of the youngsters would also look to him in the seek of advice to help improve their own game. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard Bluenoses go on about how our team is lacking a born goal scorer, or of some Premier League experience, and now when we’re faced with signing one, some fans don’t seem to want to grasp the opportunity. I’m not saying I want him to be our first team striker, but as a super sub, I don’t think you could do better. Furthermore his arrival would be much like Terry’s, it would entice other players he’s been with to also join, I’m thinking Crouch in particular…
Comment below whether you’d like to see the Republic of Ireland legend in Blue. #KRO