June 20, 2024

Roy Keane : Mick McCarthy “a crap player – a crap manager”

Analysis of Keane’s Allegations

There are a number of different versions of the exact content of the infamous tirade directed at Mick McCarthy by Manchester United’s Roy Keane in Saipan. However there are two allegations made by Keane that are consistently reported. Keane’s outburst included the accusations that Mick McCarthy was a “crap player” and a “crap manager”. It is worth examining these charges in an objective manner rather than through the highly subjective and narrow Roy Keane prism.

Mick McCarthy the Player


McCarthy began his playing career in the old English fourth division for his native Barnsley making his debut for the club in 1977. In 1983 he transferred to Manchester City when both Barnsley and City were in the old English second division. During his time with Manchester City he came to the attention of the, then Irish soccer manager, Eoin Hand. McCarthy qualified to play for Ireland because his father Charlie was Irish.

In May 1984 Mick McCarthy earned his first cap for the Republic of Ireland in a friendly match against Poland at Lansdowne Road. It was an unexpected call up for McCarthy who missed being best man at his brother’s wedding as a consequence.

In May 1987 McCarthy transferred to Celtic in the Premier Division in Scotland. In his first season he won league and cup winners medals with the Scottish giants. In his second season he won a cup winners medal. McCarthy transferred to Olympique Lyonnais in the French first division in 1989 but this did not work out and in an attempt to protect his international career he transferred back to England, signing for Milwall in the Spring of 1990. He finished his club playing career in the 1991/92 season.

Following his international debut McCarthy went on to establish himself as a regular in the Republic of Ireland soccer team. McCarthy won 57 international caps for Ireland during a golden era for Irish football. He played at centre-half for Irish team at the country’s first major football finals at Euro 88 in Germany. He also captained Ireland during the county’s most successful campaign at a major finals leading the Irish team out against Italy in the quarter finals of the 1990 World Cup. His performances for the Republic of Ireland earned him the nickname ‘Captain Fantastic’.

Mick McCarthy the Manager


In his first full season as a soccer manager McCarthy took Milwall to third place in the English Championship. Milwall lost out on promotion in the play-offs to Derby County.

Following the retirement of Jack Charlton as manager of the Republic of Ireland, Mick McCarthy took up the reins in early 1996. He inherited a old and tired team that was in need of rebuilding. In his first major qualifying campaign Ireland lost out on qualification by one goal in a play-off with Belgium. McCarthy’s Irish side lost out even more narrowly – on the away goals rule – on qualification for Euro 2000. In 2002 Mick McCarthy became only the second Irish

soccer team manager to lead a Republic of Ireland soccer team to a major football finals. In the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea Ireland just missed out making the quarter-finals when beaten by Spain in a penalty shoot-out.

Following a poor start to the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign Mick McCarthy quit as Irish manager. In March 2003 McCarthy became manager of Premiership team Sunderland. It was too late to save the North-East of England team from relegation. In the 2004/05 season McCarthy guided Sunderland to promotion back to the Premier division as Championship winners. Unfortunately for McCarthy Sunderland, who lacked financial resources, ended back up in the Championship the next season. McCarthy was sacked in March 2006.

Later in 2006 McCarthy took up the reins at Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers. After a couple of relatively close calls Wolves won the Championship and promotion to the Premiership in 2009. In the process Mick McCarthy was voted Championship Manager of the Season.

“Crap Player / Crap Manager”- Conclusion

Mick McCarthy did not have an extensive playing career at the top levels of soccer however he did play in the top divisions in England, Scotland and France. He won the league and cup (twice) in Scotland with Celtic. McCarthy also won 57 international caps and appeared in the finals of two major international tournaments. He captained his national team in a World cup quarter final match – ironically a higher international level than that achieved by Roy Keane. A “crap player”? Clearly nowhere near as good as Keane but certainly not “crap”.

As a manager at club level he narrowly lost out on winning promotion to the Premiership with Milwall, losing out in a play-off. He has led two other clubs, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers, to promotion to the Premiership winning the Championship twice in the process. He was voted Championship Manager of the Season in 2009. Following two very near misses McCarthy became only the second manager to ever lead the Republic of Ireland to the finals of a major international tournament. A “crap manager”? He’s no Alex Ferguson but by any objective analysis McCarthy has an admirable CV as a manger and is far from “crap”. When compared with the budgets that other managers have and have had, including the £80 million that Keane spent as manager of Sunderland, McCarthy must be one of the best pound-for-pound soccer managers around.

NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Keane: The Autobiography; Roy Keane with Eamon Dunphy (2002); Michael Joseph Ltd

Eamon Dunphy

Back to Saipan Affair Table of Contents – Irish Football

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Saipan Table of Contents Roy Keane & Eamon Dunphy
Saipan Introduction Roy Keane & Cork
Methodology Keane’s Aversion to Being Away From Home
Saipan Conclusions Roy Keane’s Relationship with Ireland
Roy Keane – Mick McCarthy Relationship Roy Keane – Zenith Data Systems Cup
Roy Keane Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Jack Charlton Relationship
Mick McCarthy Version of Saipan Incident 1 Roy Keane’s Flawed Character
Mick McCarthy Version of Saipan Incident 2 Roy Keane’s Good Character
Niall Quinn Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Footballer
Jason McAteer Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Team Captain
Matt Holland Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Family Man
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Backdrop Roy Keane & Faking Injury
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Issues Roy Keane – Bad Boy
Keane / McCarthy Boston Row 1992 Roy Keane – Career Lows
Keane Misses Iran Playoff Game Roy Keane – Red Cards etc
Keane Misses Niall Quinn Testimonial Roy Keane – Cruciate Injury
Countdown to Saipan Incident Roy Keane & Alf-Inge Haaland
Roy Keane Saipan Tirade at Mick McCarthy Roy Keane & Gareth Southgate Red Card
Roy Keane / Tom Humphries Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Alan Shearer Red Card
Keane / Humphries Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane / Alex Ferguson Relationship 1
Roy Keane / Irish Times Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Sir Alex Ferguson 2
Roy Keane / Paul Kimmage Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Charity
Keane / Kimmage Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane & Autobiography Contradictions 1
Roy Keane / Sunday Independent Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Contradictions 2
Roy Keane / Tommie Gorman Interview 1 Roy Keane – Integrity
Roy Keane / Tommy Gorman Interview 2 Roy Keane – International Matches
Roy Keane / RTE Interview 3 Roy Keane – Football Record
FAI Involvement in Saipan Affair Roy Keane & Sandwiches
Saipan Reaction of Irish Players Roy Keane – Walker
Mick McCarthy – ‘crap player, crap manager’ Saipan – Pacific Island
Roy Keane / Mick McCarthy Playing Record I Keano – The Musical
Colin Healy – Forgotten Man of Saipan Roy Keane – Football Manager
Saipan Ten Years Later Roy Keane’s Dog Triggs
Roy Keane’s Autobiography Saipan Bibiliography


Roy Keane – View Seven Years After Saipan
Football Quotes about Saipan


Triggs – The Autobiography of Roy Keane’s Dog
Ireland at 2002 World Cup Finals – Irish 2002 World Cup Squad – Irish Group Matches
Ireland V Cameroon – Ireland V Germany – Ireland V Saudi Arabia – Ireland V Spain