TERRIFYING: He may have hung up his boots, but Roy Keane (right) still scares the bejesus out of those he goes up against. Photo Sky Sports
By Paul Kennedy
Former Nottingham Forest manager, Brian Clough, was someone who could never be accused of having nothing to say.
Ol’ big head as he was affectionately known tended to have an opinion on just about everything under the sun, and he wasn’t scared to share it.
He once criticised the BBC’s Saturday night football show, Match of the Day, for talking too much about the games and not showing enough football.
“I suggest you shut up and show more football,” Cloughie told Match of the Day reporter John Motson in a grainy clip you will be able to find on YouTube.
I liked Brian Clough and what he achieved as manager of Forest way back when was nothing short of remarkable.
But I’m sorry Brian, on that occasion you were wrong.
Pundits, the good ones, are a welcome addition to any football match. And granted, some are far better than others.
Michael Owen is a case in point, great footballer, world class, but his punditry isn’t really the best. Here are some examples of his words of wisdom:
“Footballers these days often have to use their feet.” Really Michael?
“It’s hit the facial part of his head, there.” It’s called the face Michael.
“You’re on your own out there with ten mates.” So, not on your own?
“If there’s a bit of rain about, it makes the surface wet.” Mind blown.
But Owen aside, I believe right now the football viewing audience is blessed to have so many decent pundits analysing the games.
And the best? Well for me that’s easy. It’s Roy Keane.
On the pitch, Keane was probably the greatest midfielder I have ever seen play. He was the player I would have most loved to have been in my team.
He won 13 major trophies with United, including seven Premier League titles, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s on about.
As a player he was no nonsense, would never duck out of a challenge, tough as old boots, and possessed a stare that would send shivers down the spines of the opposition.
And now he’s hung up his boots and moved into punditry, nothing has really changed.
A lot has been said this week, and in fact this season, about the failings at Manchester United, the club Keane successfully captained for many years.
And Roy is pulling no punches.
But what makes Keane’s remarks so spot on is that you know they are coming straight from the heart. For a player who would sweat blood for United in his day and take a bullet if it meant not conceding a goal, he is clearly irked when he sees the current squad underperforming.
After a recent Paul Pogba interview before United played Manchester City, Keane was asked: “What do you think listening to that Roy?”
“I wouldn’t believe a word he says,” Roy responded.
He went to say that after defeat by Everton, the United dressing room was a little heated to say the least.
Roy’s take on it all?
“I heard they were actually throwing their hair gel at each other, it got that heated.” Brilliant.
I was talking to a friend and Manchester United fan about it this week, a real one, actually from Manchester. And he said of Keane that while you wouldn’t want him offering his candid comments on every single match, when he is on TV, he’s quite simply box office.
Pogba hit back, or at least tried to.
Speaking to French outlet RMC Sport, Pogba said: “Criticism from British pundits? No worries. They are paid to say things in front of the camera.
“I’m just on the pitch. They can say what they want, they are paid for it. I’m not paid to talk. I get paid to be on the field and fight for my team. That’s all.”
But maybe what Pogba should be doing is going through the Manchester United archives on YouTube and searching for a certain ‘Roy Keane’ or even go back a little further and type in ‘Bryan Robson’.
Then, in just a few minutes, he would discover exactly what is expected from a midfielder while wearing the colours of Manchester United.
Right now Paul, sorry, but you’re not good enough to lace Roy Keane’s boots, which I’m guessing will be black, and not orange with blue and pink stripes with his name embroidered down the side. VNS