herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

nobody wins in bitter battle

Alex Ferguson must shoulder most of the blame for continuing feud with Roy Keane

Alex Ferguson is the only manager numbered among the greats that chose to write a book which heavily criticised some of his best players. I have no idea why he did it.

I just don't see the point of it. It was a betrayal of people he worked with on a daily basis for many years and who delivered great success to his doorstep.

As a result, we now have another book from Roy Keane which perpetuates the whole, sorry mess and in my opinion, cheapens the game we all love.

So if there is blame to be doled out, I think Ferguson is the one who should shoulder the lion's share.

He's the older, wiser man and with all he has achieved and all the praise he has received, he had no reason to score cheap points off some fantastic players just to sell copies of a book.

I know I bang on about the great managers a a lot but it is how they behaved in situations like this which which made them so good.

They didn't break the dressing room code because they didn't feel the need to and they were honouring an unwritten rule among all managers by taking this approach.

Who gains from a public row which has already exposed details of a great club and an area of success which dilutes Ferguson's legacy and makes people remember those great days for the wrong reasons?

To be honest, this saddens me greatly. It saddens me that two great football men would end a relationship so badly and spend the rest of their lives batting insults back and forth.

I'm not suggesting that football autobiographies should be bland and meaningless but there is absolutely no sense in them being bitter and vindictive.

I've done a few myself but under no circumstances was I ever going to reveal fine details of other peoples lives.

All jobs have a negative side. There will always be people you don't like and moments where tempers boil.

But nobody needs to know about that. Nobody needs to know every row, every fight or every punch thrown in anger.

I know that my love of football and my childhood dreams of doing great things as a professional player were the same ones Ferguson and Keane had. I know they started out with glory on their minds.

There has to be joy in the journey or there's not much point in making it and it was always in my mind that I was living the dream. How could I but be happy?

I understand that everyone is different but for me, the simple fact that I can meet up with Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer and the Leeds lads and enjoy their company so many years later is just as important as the medals.

Keane wrote in his first book that he had no phone numbers of the players he played with and I understand that as well.

He was driven to win and in that, he was well matched with Ferguson.

And in that, I think, lies the root of this feud. Someone has to have the last word though.

I have no doubt that Keane would not have bothered to write a second book if he didn't feel the need to respond to Ferguson's ill-timed publication of a year ago.

Keane was painted as a monster and has achievements at Old Trafford filtered by Ferguson through that lens.

In some ways, I see why he wanted to respond but from what I've read of the extracts leaked from his book, there is evidence that he is moving on with his life and resolving some of the issues which he clearly feels have held him back.

It would have been the wise thing to do to ignore what Ferguson said and rise above it. History will remember Keane as a great footballer one way or other but his reputation will become indelibly linked with this feud if he is not careful.

In the middle of all of this stands Martin O'Neill and while I know he has been saying that he is not distracted by this, I don't believe that for a minute.

It IS a distraction and has been all week. It won't go away before the weekend and Keane will be speaking about the book tomorrow.

Keane shares issues of poor timing with Ferguson and I'm sure David Moyes would empathise with Neill's current circumstances.

O'Neill gets to go home next week though. Poor Moyes had to stick it out for nine, torturous months and his cause was not helped by the blizzard of headlines which followed Ferguson's book.

I'm sure Keane's book could have been published some time next week and avoided the clash with Ireland's two Euro 2016 games but O'Neill seems relaxed enough.

I'm not sure I would be so sanguine in the same situation. O'Neill has had to field questions about his number two since he was appointed a year ago and by now, I would imagine that it must be a bit of a chore.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News