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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Keane: Right or wrong?
An angry Roy Keane
Keane's comments have cost him a World Cup place

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Roy Keane might have bid farewell but the row over his departure from the World Cup has only just begun.

Has the Irish captain wrecked his country's chances - or was he justified in saying what he did?


The Saipan situation

Keane, captain of one of the world's most successful club sides, is used to things being done properly.

You could argue that moaning about a lack of training kit, the state of practice pitches and a lack on intensity in training is nothing more than the whinging of a pampered prima donna.

An angry Roy Keane confronts a referee
Keane's will-to-win informs everything he does
You could. But Keane understands that footballing success is made up of many variables.

Victories on the pitch have their root in the preparation a team goes through.

As Keane told reporters in his initial outburst, "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail." Can he be blamed for expecting better from the FAI?


Delivering the message

Mick McCarthy was prepared to let his players have their say at a specially-convened team meeting.

What he did not expect was to face a stream of personal abuse from Keane. Raised voices, yes; jabbing fingers and swearing, no.

Keane made his original comments to the Irish Times. He felt that the nature of his complaints was so serious that he was entitled to make them public.

For a man of his experience, this smacks of naivety. No manager in the world could keep a player in his squad who criticised him so openly.

At Italia '90, when senior England players felt Bobby Robson was playing the wrong formation, they nominated captain Bryan Robson to make their feelings known to the manager.

McCarthy is not an unreasonable man. He might have taken Keane's complaints on board had they been made another way.

Once Keane had laid into him in the press and again in front of the entire squad, he was left with little choice.


Players and officials

Keane is not a man who respects authority for authority's sake.

Show him a man like Sir Alex Ferguson, whose attitude and achievements he can admire, and he will happily toe the line.

If he can't see any decent reason why you're in a position of power, don't expect the same treatment.

The Irish team officials fall into the same group for Keane as inconsistent referees, prawn sandwich-munching 'corporate' fans and national newspaper journalists.

When Keane boards a flight with the Irish team and finds out that the FAI bigwigs are sitting up front while the players are put at the back like naughty school kids, he's offended.

Arriving at a hotel to discover that the same men are staying in more expensive rooms that he and his team-mates, and you're heading for serious trouble.

Should the suits get better treatment than the players? Most of us would agree with Keane on this one.


Irish attitudes

Keane represents a different sort of Irishness to that which has seen a thousand themed Blarney bars open up around the world.

The image of the loveable rascal who likes a pint and a laugh and will enjoy both regardless of success or failure is anathema to the Irish captain.

Keane wasn't going to the World Cup to make up numbers. Just as he does whenever he steps onto the pitch for Manchester United, he wants to win.

When Ireland drew 2-2 in Holland in the first match of their qualifying campaign, most of the country celebrated. Not Roy.

What to some was a point won away from home was to him two points lost. Ireland had been leading 2-0 with 25 minutes to go. To only draw from that position was to Keane a failure.

Would you rather Ireland went to Japan and Korea with the intention of having a pop but not worrying too much if they lost, or throwing everything into it and being distraught if they failed to make the second round?

For Keane, allowing half the team to stay out until 5am said it all.


Those left behind

As Ireland's only truly world class player, Keane's departure has left Mick McCarthy's squad weaker.

The team will miss not only his own talents but also his organisation and encouragement of others.

Or will they? When Keane missed Ireland's clash with Estonia in Tallinn last June, Matt Holland and Damien Duff put in far better displays than they had against Portugal a few days before, when Keane was in the side.

Keane's presence can galvanise those around him. But it can also intimidate them.

An old hand like Niall Quinn or Steve Staunton can handle a rollicking from the captain. Younger players can't.

Could Keane's loss free up those remaining and enable them to express themselves without his shadow hanging over them?


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