How often is it that there is an article about football that really makes you think? I tend to read the football press in the immediate aftermath of Liverpool victories and avoid it at all other times. But an article in the Independent today, the rather unpromisingly titled, How the Wearside messiah lost the plot in just 40 days, is a wonderful insight into an intriguing figure, Roy Keane.
Keane is arguably the outstanding player in Britain of the last 20 years: a brutish winner, occasionally a malevolent presence, and memorably described “a force of nature” . In 2006, he went into management, and emerged as a calm, measured and thoughtful man. Immediately successful, he achieved the holy grail of middle-ranking English clubs – promotion to the Premier League – in unlikely circumstances and at the first attempt. All the while, he appeared level-headed and soft-spoken.
And so his abrupt departure after 5 erratic weeks is curious. It almost seems that Keane’s internal dialogue wouldn’t allow him to go along with the grinding banality of football management, the excessive celebrations and the public excuses for poor failures: giving succor to those who didn’t, by Keane’s measure, deserve it.
The despicable Eamonn Dunphy (ghost writer of Keane’s wretched autobiography) accused Keane of “beginning to believe the Roy Keane mythology”. Rather, it seems that Keane was incapable of believing any mythology at all.