Roy Keane faces calls for him to be sacked as assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland by arguably the country’s two most respected former players, Johnny Giles and Liam Brady.
The fiery Keane – who infamously was sent home from Ireland’s pre-2002 World Cup training camp following a tirade of abuse aimed at then-manager Mick McCarthy in front of the rest of the squad – is under fire over a recording which allegedly has him swearing at midfielder Harry Arter and veteran striker Jonathan Walters in a training ground bust-up earlier this year as they prepared for friendlies with France and the United States.
The revelations came to light through a voicemail Irish defender Stephen Ward shared with friends and which was later leaked to social media. Walters apparently came close to blows with Keane whilst Arter walked off with a volley of abuse ringing in his ears as Keane questioned whether he was injured.
Ward was not present during the separate incidents and Keane was said by manager Martin O’Neill to be ‘a little bit disappointed’ at how the second hand accounts as related by the player had emerged into the public glare.
Both Giles and Brady – like Keane a rare breed in being world class players produced by Ireland – were unequivocal about Keane being out of order.
“Roy Keane is there to assist the manager. This type of thing shouldn’t happen at the best of times,” Giles was quoted as saying in The Times.
“Players who are really injured, unless they are kidding, need a lot of sympathy and a lot of help. As assistant manager he should be helping Martin and, in the Arter case, he hasn’t helped him at all.
“Is he equipped to be an assistant manager? Definitely not,” added the 77-year-old former Manchester United and Leeds United star, who won 59 caps.
Former Arsenal legend Brady made no bones about how he felt when he spoke to Eamon Dunphy – who ghost wrote Keane’s biography – on the latter’s podcast ‘The Stand’.
“The thing that strikes me about Roy Keane and it has for many years now, is that I don’t think he likes football and I don’t think he likes players,” said Brady.
“Every time there is an Irish game there was a story about Roy Keane, whether he was having a go at somebody or whether he was launching another book of his.
“I can’t even understand how Martin O’Neill could put up with that. He’s got an international match and Roy Keane decides to launch his book the week of an international game. It’s crazy, it’s mind-boggling and it’s really taking the piss, isn’t it? It really is taking the piss out of the Irish soccer team.
“Martin O’Neill, or the powers that be, John Delaney (head of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI)), has to say enough of this. This has got to stop,” added the 62-year-old, who won 72 caps.
O’Neill – who is under pressure himself after a humbling 4-1 Nations League defeat to Wales last week – defended Keane ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with Poland describing him as a brilliant assistant manager and fulfilling his role as driving the players to push themselves to the limit.
He did admit, though, that Keane wanted to make peace with Arter.
“I think there might be a bit of a reconciliation between Roy and Harry, certainly Roy is up for that.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)