The Irish Times journo., who wrote Niall Quinn’s Roy-dominated post-Saipan autobiography and wishes, don’t we all, that he’d got to ghost Keane’s first, seems to have an exclusivity clause whenever the Corkman chooses to bare his soul. However, if Keane hoped his interview would project him in a positive light post-Sunderland, not for the first time he might have been better off keeping schtum.
Many of the points he made, mind, will have struck a chord with people bemused by the moral malaise within English soccer: most notably, the stinking attitude of success-shy players on 40 grand a week.
However, his stated reasons for quitting the Stadium of Light won’t help dispel most observers of the notion that he’s a tad flaky; particularly at a time when people are losing their jobs by the thousand on nebulous grounds.
By Keane’s own account, he wasn’t impressed that the club’s American owner, Ellis Short, rang him while he was driving up from Manchester to suggest that he shouldn’t (a) ignore his calls, (b) live a hundred miles from his place of employment, and (c) spend so much time away from the training ground when his side were in freefall and being beaten 4-1 by a bog-arse team like Bolton.
Not amenable to advice at the best of times, Keane duly turned his car around and rang his overworked solicitor Michael Kennedy with the instruction to do whatever he had to do, because “I’m done with Sunderland.” In all probability they were pretty close to having had it with him too.
Roy had earlier detected an “undercurrent” of interference by Short from chairman Niall Quinn’s ever-so-gentle suggestion that players should be arriving for training wearing smiles as side as the River Wear, rather than expressions of fear and possibly loathing. “If they wanted them smiling all the time they should have employed Roy Chubby Brown,” the Mayfield man mooted. Try not smiling at that one yourself.
Apart from not posing the possibility that the owner was within his rights to expect more than a part-time manager for a reputed £3m a year, the most glaring omission on Humphries’ part (and considering it was a padded-out, two-page spread, it couldn’t have been because of space constraints) was his apparent failure to broach the massive amounts of money Keane spent/blew in his two-and-a-bit years in the northeast.
Though you can’t imagine his ‘box office’ status won’t tempt some club or other to take a punt on that charisma value alone, unsurprisingly Eamon Dunphy says if he was looking for a gaffer he wouldn’t touch Keane with a barge pole.
The man he once described as “a magnificent human being” says football is in his blood. But does that blood runs cold too often to make people, particularly players, warm to him? His callous quip about being “shocked” to hear that Irishman Clive Clarke had suffered a double heart failure (which forced his retirement from football) while on loan at Leicester, because “they found one – you could never tell by the way he plays”, certainly wouldn’t have done anything to re-endear Keane to Dunphy, whose four-year-old grandson has a life-threatening heart defect that may eventually require a transplant.
Perspective is everything.