Former Portsmouth manager wannabee leaves role after just one season

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The departing head coach had hoped to manage at Fratton Park before John Mousinho’s appointment was confirmed

The former Portsmouth head coach candidate Robbie Keane has announced he will be leaving his current role as Maccabi Tel Aviv manager.

According to the Irish Independent, the former Blues hopeful has informed the Israeli club of his intention to leave after just one season in the role and while the Canadian owner Mitch Goldhar supposedly persuaded the Irishman to stay, he remained unsuccessful in his attempts.

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In a statement confirming his departure, the ex-Liverpool and Tottenham striker - who had hoped to replace Danny Cowley at Fratton Park last January - said the decision was a ‘tough’ one but thanked his staff for their hard work.

“It has been a tough decision for me to leave Maccabi Tel Aviv FC”, Keane confirmed. “I would like to thank all the players, coaches, owners and especially the fans for making this an unforgettable season. I am very proud of everything we have achieved together as a team and, of course, most proud of the hard work and dedication which resulted in us winning the league and Toto Cup (League Cup) thus guaranteeing Maccabi a Champions League spot next season.

“To finish my first season with two trophies is very special for me and my staff. I wish everyone involved at the club all the best for the season ahead.”

In his first job in management, Keane led Maccabi to a league title in impressive fashion, finishing eleven points clear of second placed Maccabi Haifa, the side they also beat in a penalty shootout to win the Israeli version of the League Cup. Maccabi Tel Aviv also reached the knock out stages of the Europa Conference League, ultimately losing to eventual winners Olympiacos in the round of 16.

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However, the former captain of Ireland came under intense scrutiny for working in Israel despite the ongoing unrest in Gaza. He initially appeared to shrug off comments pertaining to the political unrest when he was appointed as the head coach last June but following the conflict’s escalation post October 7, more of a spotlight has been placed on his decision.

As reported by the Irish Independent, sources close to Ireland’s record goalscorer indicate that he made the decision to leave the club at the end the season before the title had been secured. He has also removed all references to the club from his Instagram account before making his announcement this Friday.

The club confirmed the news this morning (Friday 7) and also added that Keane’s backroom staff, including international teammate Rory Delap, would also be departing with him.

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s owner Goldhar said of the departure: "I wish to thank Robbie and all his staff, Rory Delap, Dave Sarachan, Mike Stowell and Phillip Hudson for their hard work and dedication throughout this season in helping to bring the championship back to Maccabi.

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“Robbie and his staff faithfully fulfilled their duties under difficult circumstances for which I am and will always be grateful. Robbie, the club and fans will always be connected through the challenging and successful 2023/24 campaign.”

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