Robbie Keane could take up management role in India
Former Ireland captain may double up as player/manager after Sheringham’s departure
ATK’s Robbie Keane vies for the ball with FC Goa’s Narayan Das during an Indian Super League (ISL) football match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on January 3. 2018. Photograph: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images
Former Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane is about to be handed the opportunity to try his hand at management for the first time according to reports in India where it is suggested he will be asked to take over the reins at Indian Super League (ISL) side ATK until the end of the season.
The club sacked Teddy Sheringham a couple of weeks ago and while its director of football Ashley Westwood stepped in to take over the first team, he was prevented by a technicality in the league’s rules in managing it for more than three games despite the fact that he had previously won the ISL elsewhere as a coach.
ATK (previously Atlético de Kolkata), who won the title last season, lost all three games, as it happens, leaving them with just 12 points from 13 matches, in eighth place and all but certain to miss out on the playoffs – effectively semi-finals – with five games to play.
A member of the club’s management told local media they are “just trying to control the damage” at this stage and do not want to hurry the appointment of a coach for the longer term.
Keane has his ‘A’ and ‘B’ coaching badges having participated in a combined course run by the FAI specifically for members and former members of the international squad and has previously expressed an interest in getting into that side of the game when he eventually hung up his boots.
This, though, was meant to be his last hurrah as a player. He was the club’s biggest signing last summer and the league’s second best paid player with the Dubliner earning just over €320,000 a season, roughly a tenth of what he was he was on with LA Galaxy in the United States but still a figure that in India is beaten only by another former Celtic striker, the Venezuelan international Miku.
While the Bengaluru player has managed 11 goals in 14 games for the runaway league leaders, however, Keane has managed just two in six with the Irishman having played a full 90 minutes on just two occasions with a succession of injuries severely restricting his impact.
It now seems that with their season effectively over, the club’s owners see their star striker doubling up as first-team coach as a way of salvaging some additional value from the deal and the move would give him a chance to experience the role at a time when almost any improvement would be seen as standing to him.
It is not clear, however, whether he would accept the job in the event that the offer actually materialises.