Guardian: Keane blasts mediocre Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle and Manchester United players

I wonder how much The Sun and the Guardian pay their writers to transform interviews into juicy bits of gossip and fabricated tosh presented as news? I love reading the Guardian, but there are times when they lose sight of reality and pander to advertising dollars.

Consider Roy Keane’s interview – where apparently he was asked about Ireland’s chances against Wales (Euro 2008 qualifier) and what he thought about Steve Staunton’s team selections. Granted, the questions are barbed – Keano has already blasted the FAI for not selecting Connolly or Miller – but the way Keano’s words have been twisted is fascinating.

Let’s look at the interview itself, shall we? Here’s what Roy Keane says:

“I’m sure Steve will say, ‘I’ll pick what I think is the best team’. If they qualify, then fair enough, you can say ‘I got it right’.

It’s your job as a manager. You’ve got to pick the right team, you’ve got to manage.

But if you keep picking the same players who aren’t performing all the time, that’s insanity. You’ll get the same results.”

Please note that he’s talking about STAUNTON, Ireland’s manager, not Eriksson or Steve McClaren 🙂 Back to Keano though, and this is where it gets really interesting:

“We all know the players I’m talking about. There’s a fine line between loyalty and stupidity. A very fine line.

It will be like that against Wales. The four or five senior players have to step up to the plate. But they’ve been asked before. Look at some of our players at the bigger clubs. Robbie Keane is doing OK at Tottenham, John O’Shea is in and out at Manchester United, Duffer’s at Newcastle with Shay. But none of these players at this moment in time are setting the world alight. Also Steve Finnan at Liverpool.”

Here, Keano is likely to be attacked by violent Newcastle fans for dishonouring Shay Given (who really needs to move to a better-performing club – Arsenal?) and from enraged Liverpool fans pointing to Finnan’s excellent form this season.

But Keano is right – O’Shea is 25+ and hasn’t been able to hold down a regular first-team place at Manchester United. Robbie Keane is vice-captain at Tottenham but isn’t doing justice to his talents this season. Duff has been a hit and miss, popular at the start but not so much right now. He’s a quality player, but hasn’t had the same impact at Newcastle United as they might have expected.

Steve Finnan is having an excellent season for Liverpool, but when we’re talking about top right-backs in Europe, who do you name? Dani Alves? Zambrotta? Neville?

What will it take for Finnan to be in that list (apart from a throng of Liverpool supporters?)?

Keano is a bit unfair on Given (who has been splendid for Newcastle) and probably Finnan as well, but he’s spot on about the rest.

I wonder if Keano was referring to their performances for Ireland instead of their own clubs, but he’s right when he says that:

1) At their respective clubs, these players are not playing to the best of their ability (Finnan is hampered a bit by Rafa’s defensive tactics, while Given has no defence to play with, but both players can, and should, improve).

2) They haven’t done the job for Ireland, and repeating the experiment without changing the tactics, players or environment is truly insane (or a really painful way of doing things – Arsenal’s affinity for beautiful football, for example).

And that’s the bottom line – if the players aren’t doing the job, you find other players who can do it. And if you’ve got replacements waiting in the wings and you pigheadedly refuse to use them in the name of player loyalty…well, that’s stupid.

Keano wasn’t done though – some more choice comments:

“If you’re celebrating beating San Marino, then that worries me.”

That’s ok, there are teams celebrating 1-0 defeats (Liverpool) or celebrating wins against Andorra (England).

“Wales aren’t that great.”

So Ireland should win, hmmm?

I wonder how ‘different’ this rant would be if Keano was talking about England? Not much, I reckon. He’d bash Rooney, he’d bash the Lampard / Gerrard combo, he’d tear McClaren a new one…

Too bad he’s not English, eh? What a fantastic England manager he’d make though.

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