The Irishman had his fair share of bust-ups with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Mick McCarthy, to name but two, and reports of his last days as Sunderland boss only enhanced the image of an uncompromising, no-nonsense and almost domineering character.
Keane delivered more straight-talking at his press conference to announce his new position, which he will undertake jointly with a current similar role with the Republic of Ireland and, while he was far from cheery, he was on his best behaviour as he addressed the media.
He sensibly declared he was "not interested" in getting involved in the debate surrounding Luis Suarez and told one reporter it was "none of his business" whether he had taken a pay cut from his Ireland job as his duties and time would now be shared with the Premier League club.
But questions about how he would deal with the players on a day-to-day basis, considering some of his Black Cats squad allegedly celebrated when they heard of his departure, and how his confrontational attitude would fit in he addressed head on.
"I think it is a bit unfair but it doesn't keep me awake at night," he said when questioned about his reputation.
"I suppose it is part of the image which has been built up over the years, particularly through the media - although I have had one or two incidents.
"In terms of working with the players I've worked with lads over a long period of time without any issues but, having said that, you have to be ready to have disagreements with people particularly if you all want the same things.
"In any good dressing room disagreements are part of the game. It is getting the balance right in terms of how far you go with it.
"Over the next few weeks I'll be getting a feel for the group and knowing what they need and don't need - a lot of it is common sense."
Villa are priced at 20/1 to finish in the Premier League's top six this season and, having already had some experience as number two to Martin O'Neill with the national team, Keane sees no reason why he will not dovetail smoothly with Villa boss Paul Lambert.
He dismissed suggestions it would be difficult for him to play second fiddle to anyone.
"I don't want to confuse you but it will be pretty straightforward - I'm here to help the manager and be someone you can trust," he added.
"Paul sees that in me and obviously Martin did.
"It is about knowing your boundaries with the manager. You give your opinion and you leave it that and the manager will make a final decision.
"I have been a manager before so I'm used to taking opinions off my staff or my scouts and then making a decision.
"There are no issues on that side of it."