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The patronising commentary around Roy Keane needs to stop

The Corkonian made headlines again for his criticisms of Man United after their defeat by City.

Roy Keane (file pic).
Roy Keane (file pic).
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Mar 11th 2022, 3:02 PM

THE SENSE of deja vu at the Etihad Stadium last weekend was not confined to the football pitch.

For the 468th time since the Alex Ferguson era ended, there were plenty of long and convoluted conversations about where the current beleaguered Man United side are going, what the problem is and what needs to be done to solve it.

As they have been for much of the past decade, City were simply on another level to their bitter rivals and that chasm was ruthlessly exposed on the football pitch.

Yet the other all too familiar sight on Sunday was the abundance of videos on social media with various clips of an unimpressed Keane.

It has virtually become an English footballing tradition at this stage — a poor United performance followed by Keane’s unflinching takes.

Yet there is something tiresome, not about Keane specifically, but the reaction he inspires in some quarters.

The same phrases always seem to accompany these videos: ‘explosive,’ ‘box office’ and ‘rant’.

The last of these words is especially jarring.

Anyone who watched Sky Sports’ coverage of the game last weekend will have known that rather than being a rant, there was a control, intelligence and even a wit at times to Keane’s criticisms.

Of course, it was inflected with a sense of anger, but this emotion was not misplaced, particularly when you consider the former star gave everything to Man United as a player for more than a decade of his career.

In reality, the Corkonian was just doing what should be expected of every analyst — providing an honest assessment of a game as he sees it in a genuinely passionate manner.

The fact that he is treated as an outlier is surely more of an indictment of football punditry in general, and its tendency towards bland, safe and uncontroversial opinions.

Keane is flawed, like the rest of us, and has made mistakes during his career. However, the tendency in certain sections of the media to effectively portray him as a caveman figure is deeply unfair and dates back to his playing days where he inspired antipathy along with admiration for his battling performances, which often pushed the boundaries in terms of what was deemed acceptable on the pitch.

Similarly, the patronising reactions to his punditry play into this perception and do him a disservice, as does the amused, childlike responses of some of his colleagues whenever he has the temerity to simply express an opinion in a forthright manner.

Needless to say, there are many more offensive and unsavoury aspects of football than this predictable pantomime-like spectacle, but surely it is something we could do without.

Granted, there are legitimate criticisms to be made of Keane’s punditry — some viewers would prefer the deeper tactical insight offered by the likes of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

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But as someone who played at an elite level for so long and won virtually everything, the least Keane deserves is to be respected and not to be sniggered at the way he has been literally and figuratively for too long.

Upcoming fixtures (games kick off at 14.00 unless stated otherwise)

Saturday

Brighton v Liverpool (12.30)
Brentford v Burnley (15.00)
Man United v Tottenham (17.30)

Sunday

Chelsea v Newcastle
Everton v Wolves
Leeds v Norwich
Southampton v Watford
West Ham v Aston Villa
Arsenal v Leicester City (16.30)

Monday

Crystal Palace v Man City (20.00)

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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