laughing stock? | 

Former team-mates insist Roy Keane's reputation is not justified as his managerial dream dies

A decade on from his last managerial job, Corkman is at risk of never returning
Roy Keane and Micah Richards have struck up quite a double act on Sky

Roy Keane and Micah Richards have struck up quite a double act on Sky

Kevin Palmer

IT was the notion that he has become little more than a joke in the football community that sparked Roy Keane's pulse into overdrive.

Amid a jovial festive YouTube chat with his unlikely TV buddy Micah Richards, the mood turned dark as the subject of Keane's extinguished management career bubbled to the surface.

As Richards chuckled at the prospect that Keane could have been handed the chance to take over as interim Manchester United manager following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the one-time Old Trafford captain fantastic snapped back.

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"Why would that be a joke? You said something about me falling out with players, but that is what managers do," said Keane.

"Why jump to these conclusions? As a manager, you are meant to challenge people, you are meant to fall out with people. Managers do that.

"You can't fall out with everyone, but there is no doubt in my mind that, and I don't mean at Man United.... I could do it. I have managed in the Premier League. I have to fight my corner here, nobody else is."

They are sentiments Keane firmly believes and yet this once great leader appears to be alone in still believing he has what it takes to be a manager.

Reputations are tough to build and even more challenging to repair and, 10 years after he was sacked by Ipswich in his last managerial role, the reality must be that it would take a brave chairman to offer him a return back to the game now.

Keane's firebrand image has been backed up by a series of bust-ups with players and given his gravitas in the game, those fall-outs have created headlines others may not have attracted.

Yet speak to those who have shared a dressing room with Keane and they all offer up a different view of the Keane we all believe we know.

"As a big Liverpool man and with Roy being at Manchester United, we probably weren't cut out to be pals and yet I always got on great with him in the Ireland squad," Aldo told us.

"In many ways, his personality is like mine. If I don't like someone or disagree with how something is being done, I will speak up and I saw that with Roy a few times on Ireland trips.

"We all knew he didn't get on too well with Mick McCarthy at the time and Roy wasn't alone in that, but I always enjoyed his company and it is a shame to me that he hasn't had a chance to go into management after his initial success at Sunderland."

Keane's infamous fall-out with Jonathan Walters and Harry Arter during his time as Martin O'Neill's assistant with the Ireland squad may have been the final piece of compelling evidence that suggests his brand of aggressive man-management is not effective in the game anymore.

Yet former United striker Andy Cole begs to differ, as he suggests the talisman he still calls 'Skip' remains a valuable ally to this day.

Manchester United's 1998/99 team celebrate

Manchester United's 1998/99 team celebrate

"It annoys me the way people look at Skip," Cole told the Sunday World, at a BT Sport event. "People have come to conclusions on him and they don't know him.

"I can guarantee that if Roy Keane walked into any dressing room, he would have the respect of everyone in there and if they were willing to work hard and give everything to the cause, he would give them that respect back.

"I'm sure there is a club out there that will give Roy a chance as a manager again, if he still wants to do it at this stage. You'd have to ask him whether he still believes that chance will come for him."

Keane may well be Ireland's greatest footballer and he is certainly our most talked about sporting personality of his generation.

Yet by becoming a caricature of himself in his role as an argumentative pundit on Sky Sports, the 50-year-old may well have reinforced the perception that he is a character who struggles to work with some delicate personalities that he will find in a modern-day dressing room.

Keane will take little solace from the fact that some of the best moments of Sunday afternoon drama in the Premier League over the last year have been provided by his post-match rants on Sky Sports. He would much rather be making the headlines on the touchline.

Yet in an era when fragility is celebrated, Keane appears to have had a red marker drawn through his managerial ambitions once and for all.

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