Robbie Keane won't carry Celtic to the title

I have to get something off my chest. I don't like Irish national team captain Robbie Keane. Don't rate him, don't like him. This puts me outside the pale with Irish soccer fans, who adore Keane.

This also probably puts me outside the pale with Irish Central's Cathal Dervan too and who am I to argue with Cathal Dervan? His knowledge of soccer is encyclopedic and mine is, well, not.

So why do I feel this way about Keane?

I guess it's because he reminds me of way too many Mets - one of those guys who was full of youthful promise that was matched with an arrogance not supported by any on-field performance. You know the type: has his elaborate "ain't I great" celebrations all worked out and his autobiography written in his head before he's put in a full year at the professional game. Then he follows all of that with a patchy career that can be summed up as ... ehh.

I'm not saying Keane is no good, but he's clearly not great. He didn't fare too well at Inter Milan early in his career and after achieving some success and becoming a crowd favorite at Tottenham Hotspur, he spurned Spurs and left for one of Europe's glamor clubs, Liverpool, where he was a flop. Back to Tottenham then and a bit of success, but as Tottenham has risen to the top ranks of the EPL this year, Keane has found his playing time reduced. So, he's a decent player for a mediocre team. Nothing more.

As for his time with the Irish squad, Keane has scored a lot of goals, but he hasn't been able to carry the team to the promised land, unlike another Keane who managed that feat back in 2002. Robbie Keane is not the kind of player who lifts a team, who inspires players to play beyond themselves and that's unfortunately what Ireland needed from him the past 4 years.

Yesterday Keane moved to Glasgow Celtic. Dervan says that Keane "will provide the missing wow factor" for Celtic. Well, maybe he will. From my non-expert vantage, the Scottish league seems much inferior to the English league, which should suit Keane just fine. Maybe he'll shine there. I really don't know, but I sincerely doubt he'll be anything like as successful as Celtic's Swedish star Henrik Larsson was.

It's not just Irish fans and Dervan whose opinion I'm fighting, but his former (& possibly future) manager at Tottenham. Harry Redknapp says he wants Keane back when this season's done. {One of the oddities of soccer is that players can be loaned out to other clubs. Keane is only "on loan" at Celtic.} Redknapp also says Keane is a hard worker and has "great enthusiasm for the game," which is a definite plus and a credit to him.

And then there are the seemingly thousands of Glasgow Celtic fans who, based on the scenes from Glasgow last night, are thrilled to have Keane in the their team. It's hard to pick out Keane (lower right) in the picture amidst all the Celtic fans straining to touch his garments. Obviously they see something in Keane that I just don't.

They expect Keane to lift Celtic up and over their arch-rivals Glasgow Rangers to the league title. I won't hold my breath.

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