June 20, 2024

Roy Keane – Contradictions & Inconsistencies

Continued from Keane Autobiography Contradictions

The Best Manager that Roy Keane Has Played For

Throughout his autobiography Roy Keane, in a less than subtle manner, regularly drew comparisons between Alex Ferguson’s management abilities with those of Republic of Ireland soccer manager Mick McCarthy. Keane emphasised Ferguson’s positive attributes as a way of exposing deficiencies he perceived in McCarthy. Even if Keane did over-egg the cake a bit his admiration and respect for Ferguson was clearly genuinely felt. “Alex Ferguson was the perfect manager for me. He was dedicated and hungry…Personally I owed him everything.”[Page 215].

Roll the clock forward six years and Roy Keane had left his beloved Manchester United, following a well-publicised row with Sir Alex Ferguson. Keane was then the manager of Sunderland. Ahead of a Carling Cup clash with his first English club, Nottingham Forest, Keane made the following comments about his former manager, the eccentric Brian Clough, “… he was a genius, an absolute genius, and certainly the best manager I played under, without a shadow of a doubt.”[Daily Mirror – 27 Aug. 2008].

It may be possible to argue that his comments about Ferguson and Clough are not at odds with each other but one can’t help feeling that because of the way his United career ended Ferguson had fallen down in the managerial pecking order to be replaced by a manager that had once knocked over a young Roy Keane with a punch to the face.

Professionalism and Preparation for Matches

One of the recurring themes in his autobiography is the lack of professionalism in the Republic of Ireland set up especially when compared with Manchester United. For example he complains that some of the Republic of Ireland squad members went for an all-night drinking session after Ireland had beaten Cyprus in the 2002 World Cup campaign on Saturday 24 March 2001. “This was way out of order. We were playing Andorra on Wednesday.”[Page 253].

Less than two years earlier Keane didn’t seem to have any problem with the fact that he ended up in a police cell four days before the 1999 FA Cup Final (the second leg of the famous treble) having been arrested following a drunken brawl. His arrest by the police brought to an end a monumental two day drinking spree [Page 194-204]. Neither situation is really acceptable from so-called professional footballers but Roy Keane’s sense of outrage at the Irish squad incident less than two years later is difficult to take seriously.

Interview in Saipan with Paul Kimmage

In his interview with Paul Kimmage in Saipan, on the morning prior to the day of infamous Republic of Ireland meeting, Roy Keane revealed a couple of contradictions also.

Kimmage, of the Sunday Independent, asked Keane did he dislike Mick McCarthy. “No I don’t dislike him.” Keane replied. Yet in his autobiography, in a passage describing how he felt when McCarthy was appointed as the manager of the Republic of Ireland, Keane said, “He and I had never hit it off…[but] I thought: let bygones be bygones.”[Page 246].

Just 36 hours after the interview with Kimmage Roy Keane in an angry outburst during the Saipan incident team meeting Keane said, “You’re a f***ing w***er. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person…I’ve got no respect for you.”[Page 267]. Clearly Keane gave Kimmage a diplomatic answer (or else he felt “dislike” understated his feelings towards McCarthy) but what it does mean is that we cannot always take Keane’s public pronouncements entirely at face value.

In the same Sunday Independent interview Kimmage also asked Keane did he play for Ireland on his own terms. Keane answered, “No, probably not.” All the available evidence suggests the contrary. Going all the way back to when Keane declined a call up to the Irish soccer squad, despite a threat that he would never playing for Ireland if he didn’t join the squad. He chose to play in a relatively unimportant Zenith Data Systems Cup tie instead.

On average Keane played just one international friendly for each year that Mick McCarthy was manager of the Republic of Ireland. That was slightly more than one in three friendlies played by Ireland during the McCarthy era. Of the friendlies that he did play only one was away from home, and that was in Cardiff against Wales.

According to Mick McCarthy during his tirade at the infamous Saipan affair team meeting Roy Keane admitted that he deliberately missed friendly matches. “Roy says he missed friendlies because he didn’t want to play for me.”[Mick McCarthy: Ireland’s World Cup 2002; Page 176].

Further into the interview Keane revealed that he hadn’t watched the Republic of Ireland play Iran in the World Cup qualifier in Tehran and that it was no big deal that Ireland had qualified. “So there was no sense of elation?” Kimmage asked. Keane replied, “No. I remember in ’94 going bloody berserk and I remember all the scenes but this was completely different.” According to Keane’s autobiography he didn’t quite go “berserk”. He described his reaction as follows, “We were through to USA ’94. I was pleased, of course…but as the champagne flowed…I felt slightly detached from the mood around me.”[Page 103].


It appears that Roy Keane adheres steadfastly to his views and principles until it is no longer convenient for him. His opinions on people or circumstances can be jettisoned or modified if it is expedient to do so or if the mood takes him.

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

Roy Keane & Alex Ferguson

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 Account 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
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
Roy Keane / Sunday Independent Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Contradictions
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 on 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