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Former Manchester United legend Roy Keane has once again made headlines…

For the wrong reasons – with the release of his second autobiography.

What to make of Roy Keane?

The current Aston Villa assistant manager once again was not scared at all to rock the boat, and launched scathing attacks on all who he felt deserved to be called out. But the question is, what is the logic behind it all? What good could it possibly do him at this stage of his career to make some unsavory revelations and admissions, whilst alienating the hand that fed him for so many years even more?

Roy Keane is an enigma, one of those characters who can capture our attention at any moment with a barbed comment or stunning revelation that leave football fans hanging by his every word, perhaps not out of admiration for the former Irish international, but a type of morbid fascination with his willingness to let his notoriously sharp tongue loose. In his second autobiography, The Second Half, we see much of the same from where he left off in his previous book, with his popularity not set to skyrocket among fans and peers alike. His ongoing animosity towards Sir Alex Ferguson is once again a constant thread throughout, and one gets the feeling that he is hell-bent on keeping his fear-inspiring and trouble-making reputation rather than being an example, a role-model and above all, a nice guy.

Manchester United fans are, generally, divided into two camps when it comes to their former captain. The one section of fans hang on to his every word, and still consider him to be ‘their’ leader. On the pitch, Roy Keane was peerless, and never gave any less than 100% whatever the occasion might have been. The oft-referred to game against Juventus in that historic treble-winning season is still the benchmark for all midfielders, with the team coming first and physical damage to the player himself being of secondary concern. He knew that he would miss the final due to suspension, and this just spurred him on to put in a mammoth showing to get Manchester United there, whether he personally would reap the eventual rewards or not. The other half of fans see him as a bitter former player, though, who once had the world at his feet, but now is only concerned with keeping himself in the public eye.

Roy Keane, in his prime, was the driving force on the pitch for Manchester United

Roy Keane, in his prime, was the driving force on the pitch for Manchester United

One can see their point, to an extent, because why release not only one, but two books that he would recognise as bound to cause a media frenzy? Fans of the club might accept his criticism of Manchester United for what it is; constructive pointing out of flaws in a team that clearly is in transition. But the repeated attacks on Sir Alex Ferguson does, for many, create the impression of a personal vendetta, be it driven on by ego, rage or pure dislike. But what actually is the benefit to Roy Keane? Sure, he will make a handsome profit, because every football fan, me included, will be racing to get our hands on what promises to be an intriguing read at every level. But in footballing terms, hasn’t he put many potential employers off? Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill could scarcely contain his annoyance when quizzed in a press-conference over what his assistant wrote in a book rather than their upcoming game, and one feels that in a professional capacity, it has done more harm than good.

Either Roy Keane suffers from chronic foot-in-mouth disease, or he simply likes to be controversial, for some of his revelations in his book strays on the border of brutal honesty and tastelessness. In particular, the part of the book where he indicates that he had the “evil thought” that it was a good thing former Sunderland defender Clive Clark, on loan at that time with Leicester City, suffered a heart-attack because it would deflect attention away from a Sunderland loss against Luton, is chilling to say the least. Again, it could be seen as intentionally controversial just to boost sales and keep the image of Roy Keane, man with a heart of stone, intact, or it could indicate a disturbing lack of any real sympathy or humanity. Be it as it may, it still is not the type of image one would like to carry across to the world, because there is no shame in being a hard, uncompromising player on the pitch whilst still remaining a good human being off it.

Inevitably, the whole Alf-Inge Haaland saga reared its ugly head yet again, with Roy Keane emphatically stating again that there is things in his life that he regrets, but ‘that’ tackle in the Manchester derby is not one of those things. He continued to say that he did not intentionally go out to injure the Norwegian, but rather just hurt him, which is very contradictory of course to his first book, in which one gained the impression through some controversial passages that Alf-Inge Haaland had a clear target on his back ever since their first skirmish. The fact that the Norwegian made the most of it all and later claimed that the tackle ended his career, despite his knee problems being in the opposite knee to the one that Roy Keane nearly took off and the added evidence to the contrary when he actually started a game only four days after the whole incident should be scant consolation for the Irishman. He tarnished his image, his standing in professional circles, and most damningly, his legacy.

When all is said and done, the question remains whether the former Manchester United captain had done himself more of a disservice rather than actually ‘getting back’ those he feel wronged him. If he still has ambition to be a manager at the highest level, one wonders how many possible suitors, now and in the future, he has put off with another controversial chronicle of his deepest thoughts.

And, more importantly, has Roy Keane, the dedicated footballer, become a secondary memory?

Originally published at inthestandsport.com

Post written by Marco Conradie, Twitter: @MarcoConradie10
for InTheStandSport, Blog: inthestandsport.com, Twitter: @InTheStandSport

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