Aston Villa assistant manager Roy Keane has had plenty of cause to scratch his chin of late as he ponders the root cause of the club’s recent poor form.
However, it’s unlikely that he has given much credence to the thought that therein (or thereon) may lay the problem.
The timing of the Irishman’s decision to shave off his much-vaunted beard bares an uncanny relation to the point at which the Villans stopped picking up points in games were they could reasonably be expected to.
His facial furniture was given the lather and cutthroat treatment in the days before the Republic of Ireland’s European Championship qualifier against Gibraltar on October 11.
By that time the pint-of-Guinness-in-reverse fuzz had guided his claret and blue cadets to all ten of the Premier League points they currently possess.
Admittedly Villa had sustained three defeats by the time Keane grew tired of looking like a Dalston graphic designer.
However, there can have been few Holte End speculators who expected anything other than the nil points extracted from clashes with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.
It’s only in the last three games that more profound effect of the loss of Keane’s beard has become clear as the second-city side turned benefactor to more mundane adversaries.
First Villa were swatted aside by an Everton side they had pushed to the wire at Goodison Park last term, before a benign showing in west London saw them become only the second side to lose to QPR this season.
The latest loss, to a distinctly off-colour Tottenham, has extended Villa’s losing streak to six matches, while in-form West Ham are just 4/5 to compound their misery further at Upton Park next weekend.
How long can Aston Villa afford their assistant gaffer’s designer-stubble dalliance to last?