Before he left Spurs for Liverpool, Robbie Keane was a hero at White Hart Lane; he had scored over 100 competitive goals for the club and was the vice-captain. His nomadic career had seen him struggle to find form elsewhere, but at Tottenham, Keane established himself as one of the best strikers in the league. The partnership that he formed with Dimitar Berbatov was phenomenally successful; they finished the 2007-08 season with 23 goals each. Since his return to Spurs, he no longer enjoys the complete adulation of the fans that he once did.
Keane’s stellar form for Tottenham attracted the attention of Liverpool and he angered Spurs’ fans when he made the switch to Anfield a month or so after saying he would stay at Tottenham. The unsuccessful spell at Liverpool led to a hasty return to North London last January as Liverpool accepted a bid from Tottenham in the region of £16 million. While his return was welcomed by a lot of Tottenham fans, there remains a significant contingent who have yet to forgive Keane for leaving in the first place. This resentment does seem harsh though, Keane’s boyhood club was Liverpool and the move represented his last chance to succeed at a footballing superpower after his unsuccessful spell at Inter Milan.
The residual anger has lead to fans criticising Keane for his performances in recent months. It is true to say the Irishman has yet to rediscover the form that attracted Liverpool in the first place. Since his return to the club he has scored only 11 league goals and 4 of those came in one game. It is also becoming apparent that Spurs most potent strike partnership may be that of Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe which has seen Keane occasionally being moved out to the left of midfield to accommodate the England duo. It remains to be seen what role Keane will play when Luka Modric makes his return from injury.
While Keane has not been hitting the back of the net as much as he would have hoped, his general performances have been fairly good; he was shown a good work rate and demonstrates leadership qualities on the pitch. Harry Redknapp has condemned the fans who have been lambasting Keane’s recent performances and it is clear the player has the support of his manager. The only way for Keane to win over the fans is to continue to play with passion and drive; if he manages to pick up the habit of scoring important goals for the club again, the fans will soon forget about his brief affair with Merseyside.