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Roy believes modern pros are now 'impostors'

But Keane stands up for players being asked to take pay cuts by clubs with billionaire owners

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Roy Keane has stood up for Premier League players while at the same time criticising modern professionals who are wrapped up in cotton wool

Roy Keane has stood up for Premier League players while at the same time criticising modern professionals who are wrapped up in cotton wool

PA

Roy Keane has stood up for Premier League players while at the same time criticising modern professionals who are wrapped up in cotton wool

Roy Keane has come out with some severe criticism of unnamed members of the Ireland squad, labelling them as "impostors" and unprofessional.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Keane took a strong position on the topic of players, especially in the Premier League, coming under pressure to take pay cuts as a way for clubs to cope with the impact of Covid-19, insisting it was unfair to ask players to accept a pay cut while "billionaire" owners sat on their piles of cash.

But Keane, who left his job as assistant to Martin O'Neill in 2018, was also highly critical of what he called the "modern players" who he worked with at his most recent jobs in contrast to the characters who were by his side at Manchester United.

"This idea that I was some sort of good leader - it was easy, I had the easiest job in the world at Man United," Keane said.

"Working with the players I worked with every day, it was a privilege and an honour as they were all great lads.

"People said I was a great leader but we had great leaders in that (United) dressing room, they were all good lads and good players, Bryan Robson was a great leader but we had a dressing room full of leaders and just because you have the armband on doesn't mean you are the main man or the leader.

"We had some real characters in that United dressing room. 

Worked

"A lot of the modern players that I worked with recently, and I am on about when I worked at Aston Villa for a while, with the Irish senior team, Nottingham Forest, there are a lot of players out there who are impostors," Keane added.

"Impostors to the game, of being a professional footballer.

"They talk about being professional but they are the opposite. You talk about good or bad players, I am on about them as people, as human beings, you are almost pandering to them.

"We're getting to the stage where we'll start praising players for putting their boots on, that's the stage we are getting to."

Keane didn't name names in relation to that Ireland squad but in his time on the FAI payroll he had a number of rows with senior players, most notably Harry Arter and Jon Walters when the details of a training ground row in 2018 were accidentally leaked via Whatsapp by Stephen Ward.

After the Ireland job, the Cork native went on to work with O'Neill again, at Nottingham Forest, but the Championship club ditched that management team.

A number of players reacted negatively to statements, particularly by politicians in the UK, asking for players to accept a pay cut as a sign of solidarity, with Keane supporting their stance.

"I'm not sure how I'd have dealt with it, I have a lot of sympathy for the players out there, a lot of players are getting criticised," he said when asked how he, as a player, would have reacted to a call for a pay cut.

"Looking at it now, particularly with the way I left United, and I'm talking about players at the really big clubs, with a lot of wealthy owners and pressure to take pay cuts, I wouldn't take a pay cut if I was at one of the bigger clubs.

"It's nobody's business what you do with your wages. You take your wages and if you want to be generous, go ahead and do it, there's a lot of speculation out there, but I don't think people should believe everything they read about what players are doing, taking 10 per cent or 15 per cent.

"Players should not feel under pressure, particularly at the big clubs. I know everyone is different, different circumstances but your contract with the club is a personal matter and this idea that all the players have do to this is nonsense. It's up to the individual and if they want to stick to their wages, while they have a billionaire in the background, then do that

"I am surprised at the amount of people jumping on the bandwagon and criticising the players, it's nobody's business.

"I'm talking about the clubs with wealthy owners. I have sympathy for the lower leagues, you make sacrifices in the lower leagues but the players at the top, where the clubs have the money, stick to your guns," Keane added.

"At the bigger clubs, the money is available to the players.

"Individual players getting criticised is unfair, you have different personalities in the dressing room. Some players getting their full wages might be the most generous on the planet and let them do what they want, for the NHS or whatever charity, but I'd fight the players' corner."

Stance

Keane said his own stance on a public debate over player wages was formed by negative situations in his playing days, especially at Nottingham Forest and Manchester United.

"From my own experiences, my own contract situations at Forest and Man United when I was negotiating new deals and the day I was leaving the club, the club made it clear to me, on any issue of negotiation, that it was a business and I understood that," Keane added.

"But I signed a contract and I expected the clubs to honour that.

"I was on the same money at Forest for two and half years, eventually I got a pay rise and I was told I was greedy.

"I went to Man United, they said they couldn't match Blackburn for the wages. When I signed a new contract they sent letters to supporters saying season tickets had gone up because of my contract, the day I left I was sat in front of (Alex) Ferguson and (David) Gill, who discussed cash-flow problems. Brilliant," said Keane.

"That's the business side of it so when the clubs come to the players, and this is clubs with billionaire owners, saying they are in trouble - they have to honour that contract.

"This idea that the players give up their wages, forget about it.

"They (clubs) are the first to tell you it's a business, they have billionaires in the background, they are ruthless and they are discussing cashflow problems? I have heard it all before."