Roy Keane’s Finale at Manchester United?

 

The Ranter looks back over a glittering career and to an end that hopefully won’t drag on too long.

 

 

There’s a passage in Roy Keane’s suitably frank autobiography in which, to paraphrase, the fiery Irishman admits he wasn’t the best player in his junior team, not even in the school side but that in living, breathing and fighting football he succeeded on determination alone.

 

It’s a misrepresentation of the Cork master’s talents but a fitting summary of a career that is surely now drawing to a close.

 

Born in Cork, Ireland, 10th August 1971, Roy Keane is Dominoqq most probably entering his final season as Manchester United captain; perhaps even his last in English football. Over the past decade he has cajoled, bullied and fought his way to the top.

 

His vein pumping, fist clenching all-action style has always been the surface of Keane. But below that has been a master tactician, the epitome of the modern midfielder’s art – as the great Marcelo Lippi once called him, “Manchester United’s heartbeat.”

 

In the final year of his contract at Manchester United it looks increasingly likely that Keane will either retire or move on in May 2006. Keane’s influence is as great as ever but successive injuries have blunted his physical abilities to the point that manager Sir Alex Ferguson has changed his side’s tactics to offer the Irishman more protection.

 

With Keane injured until winter sets in and rumours of Bayern’s Michael Ballack’s January arrival at the club increasingly believable, Keane could even find himself on the bench come the New Year. It is with this backdrop that the crackerjack midfielder recently announced his expectation of leaving the club at the end of the current season.

 

All hands to the plump

My grandmother used to swear by the following advice, if you burn your mouth eating soup, you’ll know to blow it the next time, which is unusually good advise from a clearly deranged pensioner.

 

After opposing Chelsea earlier in the season, i’m now flip-flopping like a fish in a Japanese restaurant. Conventional wisdom tells us that a team can not go through a Premiership season winning every match, but nothing in life is impossible, with the exception of a Peter Crouch hat-trick.

 

With nine wins out of nine matches under their belt, you can now back Chelsea at 40/1 to win the remainder of their Premiership matches; although the safer bet will be that Jose’s men remain unbeaten for the rest of the campaign at 4/1.

 

Chelsea’s performance against Bolton last week was sublime, but like the wife on our wedding night, I feel I have to comment on the disappointing tackle. Michael Essien’s challenge on Tal Ben Haim was the only real negative in a superb display, back Chelsea at 4/11 for an easy win at Goodison Park.

 

The average footballer is not the smartest tool in the box, take Robbie Savage, you’ll struggle to find a more average footballer than him. He’s on £30,000 a week and he still can’t find a hairdresser.

 

Robbie goes up against Birmingham City for the first time since his acrimonious departure last season. After facing taunts of ‘money grabber’ from City fans, and ‘geographically challenged hippy’ from a respected betting journalist, Savage will be more fired up than usual for this one. You can back Robbie to be sent off at 16/1.

 

The controversy surrounding David O’Leary’s celebration at the end of the Birmingham derby last week is understandable, I haven’t heard of a grown man running towards a pensioner with a big smile on his face since the Wayne Rooney story broke. Aston Villa are still on a high after their derby heroics, take the even money about back to back Villa victories.

 

Somewhat surprisingly, there have only been 10 goals in the last six meetings between Spurs and Man U, although it would have been 11 if it wasn’t for a serious dose of oldtrafforditis from Mark Clattenburg last season. As the plump one is returning to the United starting line up, goals are guaranteed. Man U are a cracking bet at 1/2.

 

Middlesbrough have been rocked by the news that Abel Xavier has failed a drugs test. Having seen him play, I’m betting they were not performance enhancing. Boro have been inconsistent all season, West Ham are looking better and better, get on the Hammers at 6/5.