Dunphy stole the show when he told O’Herlihy, “If you want a guy who is going to give you bleep, get another guy.” The host was pressing Dunphy to say that Brian Kerr was a good appointment as the manager of the Republic of Ireland’s senior soccer team. The controversial journalist and forecaster made no bones about it when he stressed that he did not like the selection “process.” Dunphy believes the Football Association of Ireland already knew Kerr was their man. During the program a Kerr interview was aired and Dunphy was not too happy about that either.
“He’s a Merrion Square politician,” Dunphy said. “When he was asked about his style he didn’t answer the question. I wish him the best, I really do, but I am skeptical of the process. He wouldn’t be my choice.”
Giles echoed the well wishes and had little or nothing to say about Kerr’s appointment.
In the Kerr interview, the new coach claimed he was familiar with the players and he insisted, “They have to get on with the job.” As far as style was concerned, Kerr revealed, “Somebody else would have to describe my style, I can’t do that.” Happiness and blending personalities was Kerr’s priority. “I am under no added pressure,” he said. “Let’s get on with the friendly against Scotland; we can only do our best.”
While Irish fans are behind Kerr, he will have to prove himself to Giles and, in particular, Dunphy. Both TV personalities are the kind of characters in the game that you love to hate. While it looks like they are on the same plastic page in wishing Kerr the best, they are definitely on the same page when it comes to Roy Keane and Manchester United.
The show opened up with the Man. U. 2-nil win over Southampton. The Saints started the game well but out of the blue United came up with a goal that stunned everybody at St. Mary’s. Fabien Barthez threw the ball out to Mikael Silvestre, who switched the ball right across the field onto David Beckham’s boot; the midfielder held the ball up to chip onto the overlapping Gary Neville, who crossed into Ruud van Nistelrooy, who made no mistake crashing the ball high into the net. It was a goal that had all the qualities for goal of the year. But in typical Giles fashion, the ex-Leeds legend was quick to point out a defensive flaw rather that the superb team goal. The left full for Southampton was caught ball watching and was pulled right out of the area that Neville exploited to cross for the goal. It was a specific analysis by Giles and the ex-Irish International got it spot on, something he is very good at.
Then United sent the ball down the right side that deceived everybody in the stadium, and indeed the Southampton defense. Somehow the ball managed to stay inside the line. The unmarked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked the ball up in the corner and crossed through the dummy of Juan Veron for Ryan Giggs to finish. The praise and analysis could easily have been on how Beckham and the in-form Neville combined. Some of their flank work was out of the ordinary and perhaps could have gotten more props. However, the final analysis was on how well Manchester United is doing, and how important Keane is to the team.
Keane’s defensive recovery and reading of the game, for Giles, is what makes United click as a team. Giles believes United have gears and can turn it up a notch when they get threatened. Dunphy agreed with Giles when he said, “Back in the ’90s United dominated the Premiership. In the last couple of years, Arsenal have taken over, but United have been able to come up with something to make it a contest. United and Arsenal have become seriously very good sides.”
It was clear that both forecasters are United supporters and that Keane is their boy. Dunphy also suggested that “Keane was good PR for Kerr.”
Next up was Arsenal’s last-minute 2-1 win over Fulham. Robert Pires scored both goals for the Gunners, but Dunphy was all about Thierry Henry and how brilliant he is. There was no disagreement at all between the duo on this one. Even with Dunphy’s observation that “Henry could pick his head up more when in the box,” the show moved on without any feedback on the French forward from Giles. There was lots of room for argument on this Henry criticism by Dunphy, but it went untouched. If Henry picks his head up we may not see as much of the sublime as we would want. So as usual, Dunphy puts a spanner in the works by nitpicking on the best player in the Premier at the moment.
It was appropriate that Giles would comment on the Leeds collapse at Elland Road. “They went too far when spending, and now they have gone too far on cutting back. Having to sell Jonathan Woodgate was the last straw. The club budgeted for Champions League and not qualifying is disastrous,” said Giles.
Leeds was beaten 2-nil by Everton and Terry Venables looked set to be on his way out of the club right after the game. Giles concluded, “Venables should not be on top of the hit list.” Usually Dunphy would be all over this kind of situation, but his lips were sealed on a response. One would expect loads of controversial remarks about David O’Leary’s extravagant spending at Elland Road and Venables not producing the goods. But the show once again moved on, the old warhorses were on the same track. At the end of an entertaining show it was apparent that Dunphy was not in the mood to dish it out to his host, O’Hirlihy, and certainly not to his old buddy John Giles.