Real Madrid manager Juande Ramos, formerly of Tottenham, criticized Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez for giving up on Robbie Keane after half a season.

“You can’t tell me Robbie will not score goals at a top club,” Ramos is quoted as saying in The Sun.

“He is a top player and I don’t think he did badly at Liverpool.

“He scored goals and showed he’s a team player.

“He’s definitely a matchwinner for any club and if he were still at Liverpool, I would be telling my defenders to watch for him,” he added in reference to next week’s meeting between Real and Liverpool in the Champions League.

Ramos is right that Keane can be a match-winner.  He’s a tremendous instinctive player.  Flourishing in a free role, he’s unpredictable and can create havoc for opposing defenders.

Keane, however, could not have done that at Liverpool.  Benitez’ team plays a considered, deliberate brand of football.  For all of Keane’s fantastic instincts, he’s not a thinker.  

He intuitively reacts to what’s in front of him, sometimes brilliantly.  He’s not one to set out with a task and impose on the opposition.  When forced to do so, he befuddles himself into ineffectiveness.

There is a role in Liverpool’s system for a spontaneous, freewheeling and instinctive player.  Steven Gerrard fills it, and far better than Keane ever would.

Rafa Benitez should be censured over Keane, but for wasting club’s limited transfer funds on him, not for being decisive once the story was clear.

Liverpool’s problem up front, now, is not Robby Keane being gone.  It’s that the Keane deal did not go through quickly enough to buy a replacement.