During an interview with RTÉ Sport, Ossie Ardiles (a midfielder for Tottenham from 1978 to 1988) tipped Robbie Keane to shine at White Hart Lane this season:
“I was with Spurs for the tour of North America and we had these questions before the tour. If you had asked these questions two weeks ago, more or less everyone was saying Robbie was going. And I believe that Robbie was thinking he was going. But he was the best striker in these games. Robbie is a very special player.”
“Robbie likes to feel he is loved and that he is number one. Somehow he lost that at Spurs last season. He was not the most important player and his form started to suffer. Now things have changed. I have a feeling that Robbie will be happy to carry on with Spurs.”
This proclamation comes after 2009-10 brought (for Keane) frustration, underachievement and a loan move to Celtic, who currently languish in the Europa League following their dismal exit at the first hurdle of the Champions League. To make matters worse, he was also below Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko (seen by some Spurs fans as a significant disappointment) in the pecking order.
It seemed as though his days with the Champions League new-boys were numbered, and with rife rumours a move to Manchester City, it certainly appeared as though Keane was on the threshold of the exit door. However, things have changed for the Irishman since returning from the SPL, with four goals in games against New York Red Bulls, Sporting Lisbon and Fiorentina, Keane has a new lease of life.
With Tottenham about to embark on the journey of a lifetime amongst Europe’s elite (after the formalities against Swiss side BSC Young Boys), they need now more than ever the firepower up front to breach the world’s toughest defences, and more crucially, score away goals at the business end of the tournament.
Jermain Defoe was the supreme force behind Tottenham’s success in the league by hitting 18 goals, and equalling the record number of goals scored by an individual player in a Premier League match (five against Wigan in the 9-1 win, held also by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer). With Peter Crouch’s unrivalled height and presence in the box, the first choice front line are already spoken for.
Despite rife rumours of Crouch leaving Tottenham for the right price, it seems as through he will continue to partner Defoe in the “little and large” combination which has seen Tottenham soar up the table since manager Harry Redknapp’s appointment. So where does that leave Keane? There is no doubt that he is a great influence at White Hart Lane, and perhaps second only to Ledley King in terms of knowing the “Spurs way” of playing.
Keane’s lessons have been truly learnt, as he knows that his heart truly lies in North London. With a strong pre-season (Villarreal game aside), there is every reason to believe that this is the time for Tottenham to finally shine. Next May, it will have been 27 long years since Ardiles and co. experienced European glory, and Robbie Keane is undoubtedly the man to help his club – he just needs the confidence. It starts on Saturday, with a hat trick against bitter rivals Manchester City.
Well…. you can dream I suppose… nice odds though…
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