herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Keane: It was a pack of lies

Roy settles scores and sets the record straight

Roy Keane and Roddy Doyle
Roy Keane and Roddy Doyle

"My enemies have sweet voices," wrote the late Scottish poet Pete Morgan in a celebrated work that Roy Keane might relate to.

Asked why he decided to put his name to another volume of autobiography, The Second Half, 12 years after his first was touted "the most talked-about book of the year," Keane explains his motivation.

"There's stuff that's been said about me over the years, even from ex-teammates, that's a pack of lies. Just lies and lies and lies. Sometimes you go, 'Listen, I've got to get out and say something myself and defend myself'."

Roy did well in choosing Roddy Doyle as his collaborator this time out. Doyle understands the mechanics of literature, the structural details that make for a good read and, like Keane, he understands comic timing. Even more importantly, Doyle retains an ability to rediscover his inner football fan.

I assume he 'fessed up to Keane that when he was 11 he wanted to be Charlie Cooke.

IMPRESSED

I doubt that Keane worried that Doyle's hero was playing for Chelsea at the time. He'd have been impressed that Doyle later admitted being upset that Cooke ended his career playing in America for a team called California Surf. "I hate to think of him playing on the beach, watched by the cast of Baywatch," he wrote.

Roy understands hate. Hypocrisy would probably be top of his list of dislikes. Sloth would be another characteristic designed to guarantee extreme irritation.

Nine years on, the manner of his departure from Old Trafford in 2005 still rankles.

"There was a lot of nonsense coming out," he complained yesterday. "A lot of propaganda from United about this video that shouldn't have been played. But United were quite happy to let that run. I'll still fight my corner on that one. It was just nonsense. If you ask any of my team-mates who watched it, no one had an issue with it, except (Alex) Ferguson and (assistant manager, Carlos) Queiroz.

"I think they'd already made their mind up, which I've no problem with. That wasn't the issue. It was afterwards when people were telling tales about me and saying this and that. The way it was handled was the problem. Statements and stuff coming out about me. Ferguson had pals in the media."

No love lost there, then. But while Roy elaborated with broad brush strokes yesterday. There's plenty more detail in 'The Second Half'. When Keane and Ferguson had their famous parting argument, you only need to read Keane's line, "And I mentioned the horse deal as well…" to know this isn't going to end well.

Roy denies that, contrary to reports, he didn't raise the subject of Ferguson's legal wrangle over Rock of Gibraltar.

"I'd had that conversation a couple of months earlier, in private," he writes. "I told him I didn't think it was good for the club … he was just a mascot for them."

But Keane admits that in the heat of his debate over his future, he raised the subject of how, Fergie, clearly enjoying the Sport of Kings, had urged players to join him in a horse ownership syndicate. It was something that didn't appeal to Keane. "I said to the gaffer, 'What was that about'?"

Keane admits, "When I let loose, I'm in the zone … I was a human being, fighting my corner." Oh, and while we're on the subject, Queiroz probably doesn't know how lucky he is that Roy restrained himself when the assistant manager treated him badly in training.

"I'm surprised I didn't knock him out," reveals Keane. It's not all tirades and tantrums. Far from it. Between them, Keane and Doyle have constructed a book that doesn't avoid dealing with mistakes, disappointment and regret. Indeed, Keane writes that, perhaps a bit like the phrase that political life ends in failure, "There are never good endings in football."

And that's the strength of this book. Keane forensically examines his brief spell with Glasgow Celtic, his management stints with Sunderland and Ipswich Town and his television punditry before accepting the offer from Martin O'Neill to join him as assistant manager with Ireland.

While the headline questions put to him at yesterday's press conference concerned his relationship with Ferguson, his boss for 12 years, 'The Second Half' is strong on the trials and tribulations of life as both player and manager.

PAIN

From fighting injury, playing through the pain barrier with the help of injections and pushing to maintain first-rate performances to dealing with under-performing or overweight players and club owners.

Football fans will be intrigued to learn what Keane thought of many of his peers.

Here's a quick sample. John Hartson: "When I got on the bus, John, a really good guy, was already sitting there and he was eating a packet of crisps - with a fizzy drink. I said to myself, 'Welcome to hell'. David Moyes: "I liked David Moyes … Everton slaughtered us (Sunderland, 7-1). David Moyes was very good after the game. ..He was saying, 'Stick at it'. He showed real humanity towards me that day."

Stuart Pearce: "..was captain when I was at Forest. A brilliant, brilliant captain. I loved the way he played and trained."

Wayne Rooney: "When he walks into the dressing room, it lifts everybody. He was a top, top player.."

Gareth Southgate: "I got sent off for stamping on him. I get on well with Gareth now. We keep in touch."

There are plenty of insightful and entertaining anecdotes, wry asides and sarcastic barbs. It's not unexpected. Keane is a more rounded individual than the cartoon image that's been created around him might suggest.

A bit like his musical favourite Bob Dylan, Keane prefers a more contrary approach than the usual PR schtick.

Here, he reveals more than a run-of-the-mill media adviser might condone. He admits to angry outbursts and losing the plot and he admits that this has often cost him dearly. The last character to publicly wrestle with those sort of demons was the popular TV creation Tony Soprano.

Keane has a better sense of humour. Doyle wisely allows it to thread through this sometimes dark narrative. It's a literary technique that elevates 'The Second Half' above the regular run of sports biographies. But it's Keane's character and personality, not a fiction created by Doyle.

Surprisingly, you might find yourself chuckling as you work your way across a panoramic footballing landscape.

Admitting it hasn't been glory all the way, Keane recalls, when Man United captain having to organise a Santa Claus for the players' kids. "I noticed, when it was too late and the pictures were being taken, that Santa had tattoos on his knuckles," he reveals. "It wasn't one of my better moves."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News