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Roy Keane seems content with the life he claimed he didn’t want

Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher entertained a sell-out crowd in Dublin last Thursday night.

Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher in Ireland© SPORTSFILE

On location for the filming of 'Gary Neville’s The Overlap on Tour' at St Colman's Park, home of Cobh Ramblers FC, were footballing legends Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher with former Cobh Ramblers player Bob O'Donova© SPORTSFILE

On location for the filming of 'Gary Neville’s The Overlap on Tour' in Mayfield, Cork, were footballing legends Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Roy Keane© SPORTSFILE

Kevin PalmerSunday World

WHEN Roy Keane was hounded out of his role as Ireland assistant manager in late 2018, his reputation appeared to have been indelibly tarnished.

Keane's eagerness for crushing those who dared to disappoint him has long been a quality that has appealed to his army of admirers.

Yet in an era when diplomacy has become as as important as tactical nous for any managerial candidate, Keane's exit from his role with Ireland appeared to confirm his brand of leadership did has unsuitable for the modern game.

Keane’s blazing rows with Jonathan Walters and Harry Arter inside the Ireland camp proved to be the beginning of the end for his Ireland management partnership with Martin O’Neill.

When the duo were quickly ousted at Nottingham Forest when amid claims of rows with players a few months later, the celebrity duo were cast into the managerial wilderness for good.

As managers, O'Neill and Keane are damaged goods, yet Keane's appearance in front of an adoring crowd of admirers in Dublin on Thursday night confirmed his status as a legend remains untarnished.

Sitting on stage alongside his Sky Sports colleagues Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, Keane was the shining star as they lit up a packed-out arena like seasoned entertainers.

If anyone had suggested to Keane a decade ago that he would be banished from the management arena and would be earning his money as a TV pundit and big stage raconteur, he would have hung his head in shame.

When asked about being a TV pundit in 2008, Keane famously said: "I've done it once for Sky. Never again. I'd rather go to the dentist.

"The problem for me was that the TV work felt like a failure because I failed at management, at Ipswich.

"I'm referring only to myself – not to the lads who've wanted to work in the media.

"I was a reluctant pundit. That attitude helps the quality of my commentary, I think."

Asked by co-host Josh Denzel what makes a good pundit at the Dublin show on Thursday, Keane's response was predictably dismissive.

"I don't know any good ones," he said, with Neville and Carragher sat either side of him.

"I see a lot of people who do football stuff – they talk a lot but they add nothing. There's loads out there.

"They're too close to the players or they're friends with the agents. There's dodgy ones out there."

That was then, this is now and at the age of 51, Keane appears to have accepted his management ambitions have come and gone, with his last frontline role ending when he was sacked by Ipswich in January 2011.

In the 12 long years since his exit from the Portman Road hot-seat, Keane has been linked with management returns at Celtic, Nottingham Forest and as Ireland head coach.

Yet no club or national association has been brave enough to hire the character whose reputation for causing chaos is not merely anecdotal.

What came next was never going to be good enough for Keane, who doubtless had visions of being Manchester United and Ireland manager and didn't get close to landing either job.

He has never accepted failure readily but the engaging legend who entertained a sell-out crowd for two hours with his acerbic whit seems content that this will be his well-paid role for the rest of his career.

In truth, he is too good at being Roy Keane the TV star to consider going back into management, even if he is battling his own demons as he vents his annoyance at those who he feels are not fit to lace his boots.

Keane's combative nature may have ended his management career, but it will sustain him as a pundit for as long as can put up with it.

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