herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

relaxed roy wants to be boss again

Keane not yet ready for next chapter of illustrious career

THE headline arrived ready formed. Roy Keane knows how to deliver a punchline and 'everyone is frightened to death of Alex Ferguson' isn't a bad one.

But was the old and cold rage he once projected when he spoke about his enemies missing?

Perhaps. It was hard to watch him speaking from behind his vast chin hair and not think, as you always do, that he was laughing at us all.

He knew this day was coming and he must have thought about how he would respond to questions posed by the book.

His position wasn't helped by the fact that most of the good bits have been sailing around in the ether for four days and hacks were better briefed than he might have expected about the content but still, he had his lines well prepared.

The focus was always going to be on Ferguson and particularly when a posse of English media were in town, among them as Keane explained it, "some of his men", the 'his' being his former boss and without doubt, the man he despises most in the world.

He couldn't even begin to hide his immense disdain for Ferguson. Lies, lies, lies. He threw a dangerous word around with abandon and accused players, journalists and Ferguson of inventing lies about him and publishing them as fact. Could he ever forgive him?

"I'm not sure, I'm not sure. Football is a small world and eventually, you will cross paths with people again. Whether I would ever bump into him or not, whether it be at a game or sometimes there are conferences going on.

"The problem, I suppose, I had and one of the reasons when you are writing stuff and you are reflecting on it, is that when you have worked with somebody for such a long time - and obviously we had our disagreements and I departed, and I have no problems with that, it's fine.

"It's afterwards when people start coming out with all sorts of nonsense. For Alex Ferguson, not just to criticise myself, but other players who were part of a team that brought some good days to lots of supporters, for him to criticise that when you think of what he made out of it - he made millions of pounds out of it," said Keane, his voice trailing away.

"I said at the time, I wasn't too bothered about myself, but to criticise people who brought him success was just ridiculous.

"Will I ever forgive him? I don't know. Listen, I don't know. We'll see if we ever cross paths again. I'm sure we will - cross paths, I mean."

That's the heart of the book, for all the talk yesterday from the publishers and Keane himself about 300 pages filled with variety and not a few laughs.

NO FOOL

He is right about that, given a speed read and a distillation of all that has been published so far. There is much to smile about but he is no fool. He knew that his feud with Ferguson was the hot topic and he threw a couple of gallons of nitro on it at the launch.

Still, it was hard to escape the feeling that he doesn't have much anger left about Ferguson or Alfie or Saipan.

Contempt for Ferguson maybe but anger and conflict have been at the centre of his life for 20 years and Doyle could not avoid the theme in this book just as Eamon Dunphy could not in the first.

The fact that 'The Second Half' is lighter, especially from the point when he passes the low water mark which was his work for ITV as a pundit and hooked up with the Ireland team, Martin O'Neill and Paul Lambert, can only be down to the fact that he is enjoying life now more than he did before.

As he says in the book: "I'm not sure I've relaxed in 20 years. Maybe it's time to relax."

Yesterday, he was very relaxed and happy to expand on his current state of well-being. But as Keane admits himself, he is wary of stability and already, there is a looming choke point.

"From a selfish point of view, I'm in a great situation, coming back with Ireland, working with Martin and Ireland. And the players, I'm enjoying working with the players and obviously if I go back into it - and that's one of the reasons I took the job - going back to it, you have to be selfish in this world, hopefully I'll be a better coach and better to deal with.

"I think those few things that I've learnt already, hopefully I can bring to Villa. I know my boundaries. I'm still not making the big decisions, I'm not having the final say on the team. I'm hopefully giving my opinion which the manager of Villa and Ireland are taking on board but you still ultimately miss that: 'It's my call'."

And there it was. The fly in the ointment. He mentions it in the book too. He wants to be the boss. Not right now but it will come soon.

FINAL CALL

He is relishing the great opportunity he has been given but ultimately, he believes that not being able to make the final call will become a big source of frustration. Does he want the Ireland job even more now?

"No, I wouldn't say that I want it more. I said when I came first, being the assistant is not a problem to me in terms of me being on an ego trip but it wouldn't put me off either.

"I'm having a look at it, working alongside a brilliant manager and ultimately I hope that I never get that chance for a long time because that means that we're being successful and that Martin will be on board for a long, long time."

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