Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Martin Jol to Sign Robbie Keane?

Martin Jol’s appointment as new Fulham manager could spell good news for Robbie Keane, who arguably hit his best club form whilst under the tutelage of the former Ajax boss at Tottenham Hotspur between 2004 and 2007.Whilst scoring his 50th and 51st international goals on Saturday, the sight of Keane celebrating merely highlighted the frustration he must feel at a delicately poised time in his club career.Since returning to Spurs from Liverpool in 2009, Keane has not managed to inspire the magic of old. Harry Redknapp has often found himself picking the Irish captain as a fourth or fifth choice striker behind Jermaine Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Peter Crouch and (attacking midfielder) Rafael Van Der Vaart.In the two years of his second stint at White Hart Lane, Keane has spent the second half of each season being farmed out on Loan. First up were his boyhood favourites Celtic, a move which could have been portrayed as the players own choice, a protest at his lack of game time in the Premier League.But when he was forced to join West Ham’s ill-fated relegation dogfight last January – with Spurs still chasing a Champions League place – it was made clear that the Dubliners second coming at the Lane would not be as fruitful as the first and he would no longer be welcomed back with open arms.

The problem for Daniel Levy, and by extension Redknapp, is finding a club who can offer a half decent fee for the man who caused them to repay Liverpool £12 million in 2009. The striker added further difficulty in greasing the wheels as he apparently refused any wage-cut to go and seek out regular football.

Fulham may not give an assurance of ticking both boxes, but the Cottage provides a suitable environment for Keane to ply his trade. The Whites will play in the Europa League, they will undoubtedly be operating above the mid-table watermark and they play an effective mix of short passing and direct football.

Perhaps the only sticking point would be Mohammed al Fayed, who would require a little more flexibility from Keane regarding his reputed €73,000 per week wages.

Keane was not always first choice under Jol. However, unlike the deteriorating form seen under Redknapp, Keane consistently improved as each season progressed under the Dutchman.

It is well known that he and Defoe never managed to click as a partnership but Ireland’s record goalscorer did forge very effective alliances with Dimitar Berbatov (which caused Rafa Benitez to take Keane to Anfield) Mido and, most effectively, with Frederic Kanoute.

If Keane does make the move across London to Craven Cottage then he will have a ready-made partner in the shape of Bobby Zamora. Fulham’s target man may be a Kanoute-lite type figure but as Jol attempts to pick up where he left off in English football he could do much worse than pairing Zamora with a transfer listed striker who previously scored 55 goals in 127 games for him between 04 and 07.

Former Newcastle boss Chris Hughton is rumoured to be lined up as Jol’s assistant, reprising the role where he cut his teeth in football management. The presence of the former Republic of Ireland fullback would further strengthen the welcome party for Keane.

But Robbie can’t just sit back and see what happens while he is on holidays. He needs to get in contact with Jol this week for a chat about the good old days… and how he can help give Fulham the swagger which characterised Jol’s top-four chasing Spurs side.

Of Course, Keane would not be a certain starter in West London; he would face stiff competition from the coach’s countryman, Moussa Dembele. But as a striker who will be 31 at the beginning of next season; Keane, rather than fighting against the management, must learn to love the squad rotation process that will prolong his career and keep him fresh enough to further stretch his goals haul for Ireland.

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