2.00 AM Friday, 1 March 2024
  • City Fajr Shuruq Duhr Asr Magrib Isha
  • Dubai 05:25 06:38 12:34 15:53 18:24 19:38
01 March 2024

Robbie Keen to make amends

Robbie Keane was the subject of boos by his old fans when Liverpool travelled to White Hart Lane earlier this season (GETTY IMAGES)

By John McAuley

The biggest deal of the January transfer window was supposed to involve a Brazilian and billions of pounds that had blown into the Premier League from the Middle East. Instead, it saw north London's struggling club welcome back their favourite Irishman and a number of other old friends reunited.

Robbie Keane's return to White Hart Lane may not have shocked as much as Manchester City's take-over by the Abu Dhabi United Group – and subsequent signing of Robinho – on the last deadline day, but it signalled a surprising u-turn by the one of the Premier League's most mature marksmen.

Keane was vilified by sections of the Tottenham support when he left for Liverpool last August. His "head had been turned" by an offer to fulfil his childhood dream and play for the club he grew up watching secure titles and trophies in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He had rejected their advances at the start of his professional career, instead opting to learn his trade at Wolves, but found the second summer calling too good to resist.

Spurs reluctantly accepted a £20.3 million (Dh107.4m) bid from the Anfield club and Keane moved to Merseyside, leaving their fans crying betrayal after the striker contradicted claims he would remain at the club for the rest of his career. The scorer of 107 goals in 254 games in his first spell with the London club, Keane will be welcomed back with open arms if he scores against arch-rivals Arsenal when he makes his second Spurs debut on Sunday.

He'll also want to prove to Rafael Benitez, his coach at Liverpool, that he is still a force in England. The Spaniard claimed Keane failed to live up to his reputation and admitted the club had decided to "cut losses" by sanctioning the move back to Spurs.

Spurs face Liverpool on the final day of the season and, with Liverpool clinging to the coattails of Manchester United, what better way to silence his former manager than scoring the goal to prevent the Reds from winning their first Premier League title?

Keane was not the only player to re-establish relationships, however. Spurs were again involved in bringing two other familiar faces back to the club with the signing of Jermain Defoe and Pascal Chimbonda – from Portsmouth and Sunderland respectively – for a combined cost of around £20m.

There was more reminiscing at Aston Villa and Blackburn, where past players joined old bosses to help spearhead their league campaigns. Emile Heskey linked up again with Martin O'Neill, his manager at Leicester where he made his name during the late 1990s, following a £3.5m move from Wigan.

Sam Allardyce also caused a stir by signing his former Bolton bad-boy El-Hadji Diouf from Sunderland for an undisclosed fee. Rumoured involvement in a training ground bust-up with Anton Ferdinand shows 'Big Sam' will have his work cut out to focus the Senegalese star in helping his new side secure Premier League survival.

Jermaine Pennant chose to swap Liverpool for Portsmouth in a loan deal that sees the winger again work under the stewardship of Tony Adams. The Arsenal veteran was the inspirational captain at Highbury when Pennant joined the Gunners as a trainee in 1999 and the two should have plenty of troubled tales to exchange.

Another loanee to link up with an ex-coach was Ricardo Quaresma. The Portuguese wideman agreed to resume his allegiance to Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after representing Portugal while the Brazilian was in charge.

That leaves Craig Bellamy, the ex-Blackburn striker who works under Mark Hughes for the third time after his £15m move from West Ham to Manchester City. All the speculation had surrounded the Abu Dhabi owners and a reported £100m move for AC Milan's Kaka.

But the Eastlands had to settle for a Welsh wizard rather than a samba superstar. At least he knows how to cope with the stresses and strains of a relegation battle.

Lending a helping hand: Top 10

Player On Loan                  From                       To

Ricardo Quaresma           Inter Milan               Chelsea

Jo                                Manchester City          Everton

Manucho                   Manchester United         Hull City

Tal Ben Haim              Manchester City          Sunderland

Jermaine Pennant           Liverpool                 Portsmouth

Mido                           Middlesbrough                Wigan

Olivier Dacourt                Inter Milan                  Fulham

Marlon King                         Wigan             Middlesbrough

Giles Barnes                    Derby                       Fulham

Jay Simpson                     Arsenal                    West Brom