Raging Roy Keane haunts Villa with Christmas visit to Cleverly
Villa confirm that former coach visited player's house amid rumours about his abrupt exit
What with his bushy beard he may look a lot like Father Christmas but when a furious Roy Keane turned up at Tom Cleverley's Cheshire residence earlier in the week he had no intention of using the chimney to gain entry.
According to Sky Sports Keane "stood ringing the doorbell for 15 minutes seeking an argument". Fortunately Cleverley was out (or possibly cowering behind his Christmas tree) and Keane never got the chance for a fireside chat with the former Manchester United midfielder.
It's believed Keane was keen to speak to Cleverley about a recent spate of leaks from the Aston Villa dressing room concerning the Irishman's short-lived spell as the club's assistant coach.
Keane resigned from the role last month to concentrate on his position as Republic of Ireland assistant manager, but since then a string of unsavoury stories have emanated from Villa Park. The Daily Mail claimed last week that Keane and Villa captain Gabriel Agbonlahor "almost came to blows in an explosive training ground bust-up", an incident that allegedly contributed to his departure from Aston Villa.
A 'source' from within the club apparently told the Mail: "The atmosphere was horrible. It went downhill the moment Keane arrived. He pissed off all the big names he shouldn't have pissed off and his relationship with the senior players slowly fell apart."
Villa manager Paul Lambert addressed the media on Thursday afternoon and confirmed that Keane did indeed present himself at Cleverley's house. However, he added, "what is being portrayed is certainly not what happened".
Lambert wouldn't be drawn on what did actually occur, and he was clearly irritated that the spectre of Keane continues to haunt Villa Park like the ghost of Jacob Marley. "I've probably spoken about Roy more since he's left than when he was here," sighed Lambert. "I think you should give the guy a break... I spoke to Roy. We're good pals, not just in this regard but we're good pals in general and that will always be the same."
According to The Sun, the newspaper that broke the story, Keane was caught on CCTV camera outside Cleverley's house. When it was apparent no one was going to answer he "stomped off" to his own home, not too far away. Luckily for the Villa star, the paper adds that "Keane now accepts Cleverley was not behind the stories and that he is looking for another target".
Oh dear. Someone's going to be having a nightmare before Christmas.