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Monday 11 December 2017

Paul Hyland: Forget about the book, it's time to get on with the job

Keane saga near saturation point

O'Neill and Keane
O'Neill and Keane

ANYONE had enough yet? Apparently not. Book launch today and for the fourth day in a row, Roy Keane's thoughts will spread out from every available media outlet like an angry weather front. Trending doesn't really cover it.

There is always a saturation point in these things and we're close to it now. There's only so much any one man can say to get our attention which applies to Keane as much as anyone else. He can last the course longer than most but eventually, credibility becomes an issue.

Whatever way Keane views the last few days and the melée of stories clamouring for space in newspapers and on websites, it is difficult to see how it does him any good in the long run other than to increase his bank balance.

There's another, more important balance which Keane claims to be reaching for in his life which isn't measured in numbers but counts things like interaction with other humans, self-control and compromise.

REPUTATION

His reputation needed a rinse after Sunderland and Ipswich and through a lot of hard work, plenty of good humour and a willingness to project himself instead of his media image, he has endeared himself to everyone in Martin O'Neill's group and the wider public.

That's a job well done and you really wonder whether he needs to be raking over old coals just to make Alex Ferguson squirm a bit.

You can't help but read it though, every word and some insights provided by Keane and his ghostwriter Roddy Doyle will give us food for thought for a while. But the man is alive and in front of us. That's a much better show.

Whether Keane knows it or not, there is a great store of good will towards him and many would like to see him find a way to convert everything he was able to do as a player into management.

Even those that cannot abide the sight of him have to acknowledge that he has been the biggest name in Irish sport for three decades and the idea that he would dwindle to become a studio warrior, as looked likely not so long ago, was depressing.

Now he is eminently employable again and before long, there will be another circus. Someone will sack someone and someone else will make a call.

This brings us to Martin O'Neill, sailing relatively serenely through the first few days of his build-up to two important games while his No. 2 attracts every camera in the training ground.

It's probably fair to say that more than half of the questions put to O'Neill over the last 12 months have been about Keane, directly or indirectly.

This is certainly unique in the history of football and most, if not all, club managers would have one response if the No. 2 was getting all the headlines

Imagine how Jack Charlton would have been if we spent hours talking to him about Maurice Setters or Mick McCarthy if our obsession was Taff?

Paul Lambert must be chuckling to himself about the timing, designed to set the book up for the Christmas market. He may even have suggested it. After all, no Premier League club manager wants to become embroiled in a media blizzard when he's trying to prepare for a game.

Nor should he have to as he would see it. If Martin O'Neill has to cope with the fallout. Well, thems the breaks.

O'Neill wouldn't be human if he didn't, at some point, take a step back and reach the conclusion that he could live without the noise but he's locked in now, even if the power in the partnership has shifted.

FATE

On a personal level, it is unlikely to be a problem. They work well together and amidst all the sideshows and headlines, it is worthwhile, sometimes, to stop and think that we are lucky that fate and circumstances pushed them toward Ireland.

But Keane's rehabilitation has been swift enough for English tabloids to assign him at least some of the credit for Aston Villa's early results and you could have a healthy debate about which of Ireland's senior management duo is more employable as a club manager right now - O'Neill or Keane.

Up until the leaked publication of the book, O'Neill might have lost the argument but for a while, at least, it will be hard to remove the images created by a flood of extracts which seem to have one common theme ...

'I fought the law, I was right to fight the fight but the law won'.

The law generally does. Keane is at a crucial point now and he needs to radiate the kind of calmness and self-possession which good managers use as a shield.

Otherwise all his effort over his time with Ireland and Villa will have been wasted.

He's young enough to commission another half dozen books if he feels the need but the more you feed the masses, the more they demand and at that point, he becomes a parody of himself.

Ferguson will respond and probably with something sharp and cutting at the Dublin Chamber gig tonight and when his paperback hits the shelves.

That would be the right time for Keane to draw a line. It's either that or turn what he achieved with Ferguson, something truly great, into a bitter, festering memory which will follow them to the grave.

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