By Joe Behan
Could Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane not wait until after the World Cup to sort out their differences? All the dirt is out and it’s apparent that they do not get on like a head coach and captain should. There are all kinds of stories about their relationship that stems back to when they both played for Jackie Charlton’s green army. Even back then a young Keane spoke his mind to the veteran McCarthy after the captain had reared up on the Corkman supposedly for a late-nighter on the town. It wasn’t a well-kept secret that the two dind’t get on; now the entire soccer world knows it.
McCarthy should be embarrassed, and probably is, that equipment arrived late and that the training ground was subpar. No doubt there must be a serious set up for teams playing in the World Cup, but Ireland can’t even get that right back home on the old sod. Keane blew the fuse on the bad preparation and went on to claim that the goalkeepers should have remained in a 5-v.-5 session. That’s when Keane should have kept his mouth shut and focused on the task at hand. But then flying for several hours didn’t get the team landing on their feet.
Reporters pressing Keane for reasons why he wasn’t at Niall Quinn’s testimonial game represented a lack of insight from the entire party traveling to Japan/Korea. There are time players should be given a break from the media and allowed to wind down, especially Keane, end of story.
At present, only McCarthy can determine whether Keane can return. Initially, Keane told McCarthy he wanted out of the cup for personal reasons. Then reports that Keane had a lot to complain about began to emerge. McCarthy called a meeting to air things out. The wisdom of calling that meeting will have to be reviewed. Indeed, there is something of a golden rule that coaches should avoid calling these kinds of meetings, opting instead to meet with players individually. Team chemistry is often the victim at these powwows. Things can get ugly pretty fast and spin out of control. And that’s exactly what happened.
That said, it’s also possible to deduce that Keane has gotten a bit too big for his boots. And though in years to come his demands that Ireland enjoy better facilities will resonate, for now McCarthy is annoyed with his former captain and the way Keane spoke to him. McCarthy believes Keane forced his hand. He said he had never been subjected to such verbal abuse from a player.
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McCarthy said this and Keane said that — who knows? Who cares? The fact is that both coach and player have remained in an unstable relationship all these years, one that is both unprofessional and unacceptable. The fans deserve better. The two should have put their egos aside and done what is best for the team and supporters in Ireland and the U.S., and everywhere else, for that matter.
Supporters want to see Keane playing for Ireland and so does the world. Ireland’s unfortunate pre-World Cup debacle proves that even the best player on a team, even if he is among the best in the world, can be sent home. Well done, lads! Come on ye boys in green.
It’s a sad day for Irish and World Cup supporters that Keane is not playing, and it’s even sadder that McCarthy did not have a better handle on who Roy Keane actually is. The same could be said for Keane not knowing McCarthy.
It is ridiculous that the wearing of the green has come to this — that the two leaders have proved that they are not leaders, at least while on the same team. For whatever chance McCarthy has to redeem himself it looks like Keane has none. It’s hard to imagine the World Cup without Keane, but support must move on and so must the team, Mick McCarthy and the FAI.