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Too Keane to worship? Why Roy isn’t the only reason for Aston Villa’s resurgence

While a stern glance, a cruel word and a quiver of his magnificent whiskers may be enough to fill Adrian Chiles pants with the digested remnants of his Wimpys lunch, Roy Keane is probably not the one-man turnaround he’s made out to be...

by Andrew Boulton | September 17, 2014

Could you fix your bike by merely scowling at it? Could you correct a wobbly washing machine simply by stalking ominously across the kitchen? Could you restore a smashed tea cup purely by having an especially menacing beard?

You probably can’t. My own scowl resembles a bowl of smashed Weetabix, so I’m fairly certain I can’t perform any of the above. And yet Roy Keane, seemingly, can.

Aston Villa, under the tutelage of their new assistant manager, have started the season with three wins and a draw in their first four, including an impressive victory at Anfield.

This is, by and large, the same Aston Villa that just about bumbled their way to Premier League safety for two consecutive seasons, largely based on key skills such as being fractionally less shit than Fulham.

Paul lambert dejected

In an age where managers are sacked for forgetting to put the wheelie bin out, Paul Lambert (above) has outlasted contemporaries of comparable, often better, records.

Admittedly part of this could be down to Randy Lerner, an owner who at times seems as if he gives less of a monkey’s than a poorly-funded zoo.

And yet Lambert was afforded another crack at the Premier League, an opportunity he celebrated by bringing in a man virtually everyone assumed would shortly be his replacement.

But now, rather than being mooted as next in line for the top job, Keane is being credited in many circles as the catalyst for this impressive new Villa. Put to one side his at times chuckle-worthy record in management and there are still enough other factors to suggest that talk of a Keane revival is a little uncharitable to others at the club.


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Not too Vlaar-fetched…

Young players like Ashley Westwood have bolstered a Villa midfield that has recently had less cohesion than a space rocket built from Curly Wurlys. Fabian Delph, despite the odd tackle that could turn a man’s kneecaps to yoghurt, looks very much an England international. Ron Vlaar would stop an on-rushing asteroid with his face if you asked him too. Even Nathan Baker, at times likened defensively to a wasp trapped in a pint glass, has managed to up his game.

Add the imminent return to fitness of Christian Benteke and you have the signs of a squad that has collectively put its boots on the correct feet. Keane has no doubt played some part in this resurgence – a man who dragged Manchester United into a Champions League final (see 1:03 on video below) by the scrotum must undoubtedly be an inspiration.

But to credit Keane with the entire transformation is both mean-spirited and horribly premature. Villa have looked much better, but they have a habit of starting brightly before blithely shoving that form and confidence under an on-rushing Mega Bus.

Puke football…

A transfer window that saw the arrival of Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Philipe Senderos looked, frankly, depressing and was only a Kenwyne Jones away from being truly vomit inducing.

Yet even Senderos, a man who could crumble any defence in the blink of an eye, seems to be on quite the Swiss roll.

Perhaps this could be the season where Villa finally rediscover the trajectory that only recently saw them flicking wet towels at the gleaming, mottled arse that is Europa League qualification.

Maybe instead their season will fall away like the hairlines of their two most famous supporters, Prince Bill and Prime Minister Davo.

Whatever shape their season takes, Keane will have played a significant role and will take appropriate responsibility.

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