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KEANE GUESSING GAME ROLLS ON

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ROY KEANE is once again being linked with the Celtic manager’s job – after missing out on the top job in 2014.

The 49-year-old Republic of Ireland legend has been out of mainstream football since quitting as Martin O’Neill’s assistant at Nottingam Forest in June 2019.

Now he is eager to return to the dug-out and is eager to have a crack at the Hoops role as a replacement for his former team-mate Neil Lennon who deaprted the post last month two days after a dismal 1-0 flop against Ross County in Dingwall.

Manchester United icon Keane, who had a short spell at Parkhead during Gordon Strachan’s reign in season 2005/06, originally moved into management at Sunderland in 2006 and was also in charge at Ipswich from 2009 to 2011 before taking the No.2 roles to Paul Lambert at Aston Villa and ex-Hoops gaffer O’Neill at Forest and the Irish international set-up.

Once again, his name has cropped up in a report in the Scottish Sun on Sunday as the rumour factory goes into overdrive.

Celtic fans – and Keane – can only wonder at what the future may have held in store for the Irishman if there had been a change of fortune six-and-a-half years ago.

READ ALL ABOUT IT…Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’.

Author Alex Gordon reflects on a sensational turn of events in his latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’, which has just been published an covers the glorious fifty-one years where the club have enjoyed domestic domination.

Alex, who has had fifteen Celtic books published, looks at the dramatic events in an edited extract.

IN the summer of 2014, Celtic were seeking a successor to Neil Lennon as they were preparing to add a fourth successive title to the departing Irishman’s hat-trick.

One man figured largely in the thoughts of the club’s followers – Roy Keane. To many, it looked a shoo-in for the legendary midfielder to take he mantle as manager of his boyhood favourites.

The Manchester United idol had lived the dream by playing, albeit briefly, in the green and white hoops in the autumn of a sterling career and now the opportunity had been presented to take his place in the hot seat.

News leaked that forty-two-year-old Keane, who was Martin O’Neill’s No.2 in the Republic of Ireland set-up at the time, had already had talks with the Celtic hierarchy and neither the club nor the individual went to any great lengths to deny the claim.

HOOP, HOOP, HOORAY…Roy Keane and Nei Lennon celebrate a victory at Ibrox.

So, it would be a fair understatement to say there was a bit of a surprise on June 8 2014 when Ronny Deila, three months shy of his thirty-ninth birthday, was unveiled as Celtic’s new team boss.

The announcement brought a scramble for information on the enigmatic Norwegian. The main titbit for digestion was the fact he had taken unfashionable Stromsgodset to their first title in forty-three years. That appeared to be the main achievement on Deila’s CV. The support was clearly underwhelmed. He had first come to Celtic’s notice when his club had sold midfielder Stefan Johansen to the champions in January that year. There were also reports he had originally been considered as Keane’s assistant manager.

Once the hoo-ha had faded, there was a new season on the horizon, a forty-sixth crown to be won, another tilt at the European elite and much preparatory work to be done. John Collins, the club’s former midfielder, was brought in to assist Deila. Celtic’s latest Dream Team? No-one even wanted to mention John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish. Would Deila and Collins be a good fit? We would find out soon enough.

On the Friday evening of May 1, Celtic won their forty-sixth championship and fourth in succession. The players were given the opportunity of moving eleven points ahead of Aberdeen who were due to play Dundee United at Tannadice the following afternoon. Mathematicians were not required on this occasion. If Celtic beat Dundee and the Dons slipped up on Tayside, the championship would remain in the east end of Glasgow. Celtic concentrated on the job on hand.

They turned in a five-star performance with five goals to show for it in one of their finest ninety minutes of the campaign. It was a fitting extravaganza of skills and shooting power as the Dens Park side were wiped out. Leigh Griffiths scored with a neat header beyond future team-mate Scott Bain on the half-hour mark and Scott Brown added a second shortly afterwards with a superb finish following a speedy, intricate sweeping move which shredded the opposition.

Kris Commons thumped in a penalty-kick in the seventy-first minute after right-back Darnell Fisher had been floored, James Forrest slid in a right-footed angled drive six minutes later and, with the contest coming to a conclusion, Nir Bitton illuminated a darkening sky with an exquisite thirty-yard drive that cannoned in off Bain’s top left-hand upright.

Aberdeen lost 2-1 the following day and the title was officially the property of Celtic for another season, at least.

The dramatic 2014/15 campaign is told with insider knowledge by Alex Gordon, a former Sports Editor at the best-selling Sunday Mail, and the latest publication is acclaimed by Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld as “a truly unique tribute to Celtic”.

John Hughes, the seventh-highest goalscorer in the club’s history with 189 goals, acknowledged the books as an “amazing journey of several lifetimes”.

* ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’ celebrates the club’s remarkable fifty-one league championships in their glorious history. To order a copy – and get a FREE book, ‘Seville: The Celtic Movement’ – please go to: ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’.

 

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