By Joe Behan
Roy Keane has no problem retaliating. It can happen several minutes or indeed several months after the slight — perceived or real. If you want to play rough, well, bring that on too. But be forewarned you are messing with fire. Even if it seems that he doesn’t care what the repercussions are, ultimately Keano himself gets burned. Yes, the dynamic midfielder is his own worst enemy and it is he who misses out on his innate necessity to play the game.
That he has suggested he wanted to give up the game on a few occasions after he struck out is just a short-term excuse and even remorse is right in there. After all, he is human, isn’t he? His elbow on Jason McAteer at the weekend comes as no surprise. This is the norm for Keane’s start to a season, as we have seen it throughout his Manchester United career. He is all over the press again and it just gets more sensational year in year out.
Once we get a month or two into the league, Keane usually gets back and things move on. But this time around Alex Ferguson admitted the referee had no choice but to send Keane off against Sunderland, his 11th career red card.
There are all kinds of issues and explanations surrounding the Roy Keane story. Many believe he is a thug. Some see the FA as not coming down hard enough on Keane and indeed United, the pride and joy of the English Premier League. No matter how much the story is told or twisted by Keane, the game will go on — with or without him. It’s no use trying to make sense of it. No matter how much one can relate to Keane’s self-justification, he is wrong to use physical retaliation on the field. That’s got to stop, and Keane knows that.
All his previous seasons are proof that he knows he must exercise discipline on the field, even if opposition is tormenting him. But he has to go there, he has to admit that he will get his revenge, it’s in his nature. However, Keane’s honesty in admitting that he will seek vengeance is an ugly and misleading honesty. Bottom line: let your football do the talking. It’s highly unlikely that Keane was coached to do players as a young lad, and that’s if he got coached in the first place as a young soccer player. Those valuable lessons that some were lucky enough to get would stand to Roy Keane right now as a grown man.
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These are the rules: never intentionally hurt a player; never retaliate; be a gentleman on the field; if you do go in, go in strong, otherwise you will get hurt; no yellows, they will be reviewed, and definitely no reds; look to pass the ball as a first option and get yourself out of trouble; decide whether to tackle or simply delay the attacker; never get sent off, your team needs you; avoid physical contact; do not get caught on the ball; do not go over the top and do not show your studs; respect your opponents; respect the referees; do not raise your arms to hit anybody; head butting is out; spitting is a no-no; play hard but fair; at times you may not be happy, but keep your composure; all sports are important to carry out as a positive event; violence should never be seen on a football field; do not lower your standard by not playing the ball; if you go in with bad intention you will come out with bad infliction; soccer needs positive role models on the field; shake hands with the opposition after the game; keep your wits about you when playing and glance over your shoulders throughout the game; above all enjoy yourself and have a great game; do not use the game as an excuse for foul play; there is more to life than football, remember that.
Of course it’s easier said than done especially if you are playing in the EPL professional world, where it is extremely competitive and quick paced. Only professional players can really write or tell us about the pressures they have to face on a daily basis. But there are far more players in the game, at all levels, who apply many of those youthful lessons. It is only a handful of players who use violence. Unfortunately, Keano is one of them. And for whatever reasons he has to justify his actions he is reaching to explain elbowing McAteer. For the fans and in particular those who love to watch players like Roy Keane, all we can do is hope that he finishes his career as a footballer on the field and not off it. In the meantime, Keane has made accusations that English players were more concerned in getting Brazilian jerseys after their defeat. Eh, Roy, at least they played in the World Cup.
It does get boring and perhaps annoying after a while with all the Keane nonsense, but West Brom’s Roy Roberts was the highlighted player of the EPL fixtures last weekend with Manchester City stealing club spotlight. Roberts’s outstanding display in the 1-nil triumph over Fulham makes him one to watch for the future. He is extremely strong and very clever in one-on-one situations. After the rough start for Albion in the EPL, going down to Man. U., Leeds and Arsenal, they finally lifted themselves off the bottom of the table. Lee Hughes returned to the club and, reunited with Roberts up front, has instilled belief back into the team. Nicolas Anelka hit a hat trick for Manchester City and confidence is getting there for Kevin Keegan’s squad. Not a bad footballing side at all they may prove an attractive side to watch. City will also benefit from winning with 10 men after Shaun Wright-Phillips was sent off. Peter Schmeichel played a big part in gaining three huge points for City and the great Dane may turn out to be the best signing this season.