By Ryan Fleming
There’s been a lot said already in the days that have passed since Robbie Keane’s move to LA Galaxy became official. There have been words of malice spewed at him from every angle.
Claims that the Ireland international has taken the easy way out, that he simply plays for money and not the love of the game, and has come to America where we are a “universe where football is nothing,” is a choice that Keane made simply for his benefit.
I say, obviously.
The 31-year-old striker, since the arrival of Harry Redknapp in North London in 2008, never reclaimed that past glory that saw him doing his signature flamboyant cartwheel down the sidelines after scoring a goal. He wasn’t in the cards at Spurs. And after his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov left for Manchester United, surely left Keane feeling disappointed. After a failed stint at Liverpool in 2008-2009, never being truly welcomed back in the squad at Tottenham the next season, and then another sub-par stint away at West Ham last year, Keano has been searching for a way out of London. David Beckham, Landon Donovan and the sunny skies of LA is his answer.
When Keane is on, his smile is stretched from cheek to cheek, he’s holding play ahead of the midfield giving time for players to run ahead or he’s poaching a goal and acting like a kid in a playground. Sometimes, though, his head does become big. Often upset when he doesn’t get played or when he’s not getting the ball enough. Those who have written about his recent move seem to remember his bad days when the Irishman’s head is bigger than the pitch he’s playing on.
I’m here to defend him. Not because he’s the reason I got into the sport, but because I feel that he’s been treated unfairly. LA is his way out, his exuberant two-year vacation for £3.5m. Who could turn that down?
Keane’s move to the West Coast makes sense. It gives him a chance to get his career on track. Only 31-years old, he still has much to prove after the last few disappointing seasons. He needs to show his country that he still has what it takes at club level to cement his spot internationally. Though, at 51-career goals for Ireland, I’d say he’s a staple.
Keane will surely find himself successful, much like Thierry Henry has in New York. With Donovan and Beckham dishing you the ball how can you not? The possibility for a loan in the winter months when the MLS is off is another possibility. One that Keane should, if available, take advantage of.
To silence his doubters he has to keep his mouth shut, don’t retaliate to his doubters – seemingly all of the Irish media who have never watched an MLS game – and do his job. When Keane is in fact doing the task he set out to do, supporters love flows to him – the moments when he truly thrives.
Keane wants to be the main man that supporters look to. His move to LA is indeed his “dream” because he wants a chance to feel young again and get the supporters on his side. Keane’s move makes perfect sense. The problem lies with those who are disappointed in his past and still skeptical about the MLS.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at email@example.com.