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Tuesday 21 August 2018

Roy Keane book launch a time bomb

Roy's revelations to come days before crucial Euro qualifiers

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane

AS this wonderful Indian summer begins to fade, it is good to know that the first autumn storm on the horizon has nothing to do with big winds and lashings of rain. It will be man-made.

Two days before Ireand take on Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium on October 11, Roy Keane's second autobiography will be released, to huge publicity.

Two major launch events are planned and Keane will just about squeeze in a training session with his boss Martin O'Neill and the rest of the Ireland squad before he is steps willingly into a whirlwind of what will be, no doubt, claim and counter-claim.

Last week, when O'Neill spoke about the release of the book, he watched us over his thin-rimmed glasses while he dropped a bombshell. He would send Keane packing if he gave too much abuse to people in his latest publication.

What O'Neill probably doesn't realise is that at least a half dozen of the people in his audience were sleeping in the hotel next to Keane on Saipan and and that any talk of sending people home triggers an instinctively wary response.

Even the jokiest of jokes aimed at Keane have been known to drop dead at his feet, blown out of the air by his smouldering glare.

UNSETTLING

It is O'Neill's way to speak deadpan words which would normally translate into screaming headlines before telling those listening that he is, in fact, joking and not to mind what he's been saying at all.

Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's a bit unsettling. Life did not grant O'Neill the comedic gene in its fullest flowering and while he likes to play little games, he often has to throw in a hurried sub-clause just to make sure everyone is on the right page.

The real question in terms of Keane and his book, however, is whether O'Neill is on the right page and understands what is about to come upon him and his Ireland squad a few days before a training exercise qualifier against Gibraltar and six days before a massive away fixture in Germany.

So far, O'Neill has shown plenty of signs that he badly underestimated the scale of interest in Keane and not just in Ireland when he named him his number two.

During the early part of the summer, O'Neill grew ever wearier of the circus surrounding Kane, Celtic and then Aston Villa. By the time we left him in New York in mid-June, he had answered more than enough questions about his assistant.

Last week, O'Neill laughed off Keane's book and wondered about the busy lives of those who need two volumes to document their doings which are, in many cases, less than a third of the way elapsed.

He also said he would have a word with him if the buzz surrounding it impinges on Ireland's preparations. But it's a bit late now.

It does seem strange that Keane should anchor the launch slap bang in the middle of the build-up to an international game with the guarantee that briefly, Euro 2016 will be put to one side.

Surely it would have been possible to schedule it for any of the days immediately after Ireland meet Germany in Gelsenkirchen? Did he speak with his employers about that?

O'Neill admitted that he has not seen the book, nor has he vetted it, but seriously, can anyone imagine circumstances in which Keane would allow himself to be censored by anyone?

However, agreeing a date would have been nothing more than a courtesy.

It's not a big assumption to make that Keane had some targets in mind when he agreed to sit down with Roddy Doyle in the first place and that Alex Ferguson is right at the top of his hitlist.

Ferguson tore into Keane in his second autobiography and painted a picture of a physically threatening, mentally intimidating semi-psychotic who was not above manipulating the Manchester United dressing room to oppose the wishes of the manager.

At the very least, it will be interesting to hear Keane's response. In fact, it is difficult to imagine any other motivation for writing this book, other than to undermine Ferguson's legacy and open some aspects of life at Old Trafford to public scrutiny.

FLAMMABLE

He's certainly hasn't done it to highlight his work with Guide Dogs for the Blind, worthy as his efforts for the charity have been over the years.

If his words about Ferguson are as flammable as everyone expects them to be, there will be a damburst of comment which will last well beyond the day of the launch and could follow Keane and Ireland to Germany.

A simple request from O'Neill or the FAI to avoid a clash with important international games might have avoided unnecessary complications.

There is the possibility that Keane ran the date by O'Neill and the FAI and they were happy to let him off. At the very least, he must have warned them.

If that's the case, O'Neill may believe that a sideshow is no harm and will take the focus away from his preparations for the World Champions.

But it's a gamble. Events surrounding Keane often spiral in all sorts of unpredictable directions and who knows what topics he has chosen to deal with.

What, for instance, would happen, if Keane placed the FAI in his crosshairs?

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