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John Laverty

Roy Keane couldn't cut it as a boss but clueless Manchester United need to bring him back

John Laverty


Don’t mess with him: The fearsome Roy Keane could handle all the prima donnas strutting around Old Trafford

Don’t mess with him: The fearsome Roy Keane could handle all the prima donnas strutting around Old Trafford

Don’t mess with him: The fearsome Roy Keane could handle all the prima donnas strutting around Old Trafford

Question: what do Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp have in common? Obvious answer: they have all managed teams to European Cup/Champions League triumphs.

Indeed they have, but here's something else; none of them were anything to write home about as players.

Arsene Wenger, who just missed out on the managerial blue riband but guided Arsenal to a shed-load of other silverware, is another whose playing career is best glossed over in favour of his achievements in a tracksuit.

These guys sure add weight to the age-old theory that you don't have to be a great player to become a great manager.

Indeed, the opposite is more of a truism; there aren't that many who follow success on the pitch with similar triumphs in the technical area.

Sir Kenny Dalglish deserves a mention, but he did inherit a Liverpool team that had reached successive European Cup finals, winning one of them, and had finished runners-up in the league they'd been champions of the season before.

Pep Guardiola? Again, terrific player for Barca but has never managed a club that wasn't already the best/richest in the country/world.

Ditto Zinedine Zidane; he wasn't exactly busting a gut to work somewhere that wasn't Real Madrid when he first left the Bernabeu, and now he's back at Los Blancos.

Carlo Ancelotti has, arguably, the most impressive CV as both player and manager but there are countless examples of those who were epic failures when they reached the dug-out, from Sir Bobby Charlton at Preston to Alan Shearer at Newcastle, numerous Leeds old boys at Elland Road, Gianfranco Zola at... well, just about anywhere. Diego Maradona, anyone?

And that brings us, if not entirely neatly, to Roy Keane.

Unlike Dalglish, Guardiola, Zidane, Frank Lampard or Ryan Giggs, Keane wasn't handed the keys of a castle he'd ruled so majestically as a player.

When the Corkman first dipped his toe into management it was with Sunderland, whose then chairman Niall Quinn had seen Keane's leadership qualities up close with the Republic of Ireland before the pair's unedifying spat in Saipan.

But Quinn, holding no grudges from that pre-2002 World Cup fiasco - and after a disastrous short stint as caretaker manager himself - promised the Mackems' fans he'd appoint someone "world class" to turn the struggling Championship club around.

Step forward Keano, arguably the best player on the planet circa 1999.

It didn't last long - although he did get Sunderland promoted with a record points total - and neither did a subsequent stint at Ipswich.

His later spells as assistant to Paul Lambert at Villa, and Martin O'Neill with both the Republic and Forest, will be remembered more for rancour than remarkable coaching.

The fiery Corkman is now back doing the other thing he's world class at; TV punditry.

Yet despite his unremarkable post-playing career, Keane is still being championed in several quarters as the sort of guy his former employers at Old Trafford could do with at this difficult time.

And I couldn't agree more.

Here's the thing: I suspect Keane's poor man management skills mean he'll never again be entrusted with a club like Ipswich or Sunderland; been there, didn't do that particularly well.

And you can forget about the former Republic of Ireland captain, who is still two years short of his 50th birthday, being a future manager of the national team.

The man is just too intolerant of players who aren't as good as he was; for someone of his temperament, impatience, perfectionist stance and notoriously short fuse, it must have been agony watching these low-level cloggers fail to do what he did so effortlessly.

This is something the Peps and Zizous were never exposed to; wonder how they would do at Sunderland or Ipswich? Maybe as well as Big Jaap Stam did at Reading...

But it might be different for Keane at United who, despite their current problems, remain in possession of a large number of quality players, and retain the wherewithal and global cachet to attract even better ones.

I'm not suggesting for a nanosecond that Fergie's one-time "on-the-pitch enforcer" should replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager, although he could argue, and with some justification, a better Premier League pedigree than the popular Norwegian.

And when I look at the United bench and see Ole (a former team-mate from the good old days) alongside Michael Carrick (who succeeded Keane in the No.16 shirt), I think, 'Nice guys, those two'. Is that enough, though?

I do hope the nice guys succeed; the top flight needs a stronger United than it's getting at present and, notwithstanding Liverpool's freakish, unprecedented season, it's still embarrassing for everyone connected with the club to be 38 points behind that lot from down the East Lancs.

There's no point in sacking Solskjaer just because a coveted, highly rated coach such as Mauricio Pochettino is available; Louis van Gaal and Mourinho were both serial winners but neither mounted a credible title challenge at Old Trafford.

Maybe what the club needs now is a fearsome snarler looking daggers from those red, Chevrolet-sponsored seats.

Someone with appropriate coaching qualifications - naturally - but with a Duncan Ferguson-style streak of nastiness, someone who couldn't give a toss if you liked him or not, yet could still command maximum respect even from World Cup winners.

Someone who simply wouldn't abide idiots posting videos of embarrassing dressing-room dance moves on social media after a home win that took them 'just' 16 points behind City.

Someone who could get booked early in a Champions League semi-final, denying him the pinnacle moment of his career, yet still play the match of his life to help his team-mates pull off what many believed was mission impossible.

Anyone fit that description?

Why does rugby think 'terrestrial' TV is out of this world?

What’s so special about terrestrial TV?

I ask this in light of the home rugby unions’ insistence that live Six Nations games remain the preserve of the Beeb or ITV.

Not so long ago, this stance was rightfully applauded; why should those upstarts at Sky have all the goodies — or the Crown Jewels, as BBC used to call them — when so few had access to it?

Now, however, I speak as someone who has not watched ‘linear’ (i.e., live scheduled programming) television for years. As someone who, if he wants to see something, isn’t going to miss it.

I’ve never had Sky Sports at home but if I’m housebound I’ll just call up the appropriate app on whatever device comes to hand and fork out a few quid for a day pass.

Otherwise, I’ll saunter down to the nearest pub where kindred spirits are spending what they’d have given Now TV on a couple of pints. Simple!

At present, talks between the rugby unions and a private equity company over a £300m deal for control of live broadcasting rights are at a delicate stage.

The current agreement with the ‘terrestrial’ duo, which ends in 2020, is £90m a year.

Uttered slowly, and with the correct inflections, that may sound a lot but it’s roughly half of what a major Premier League — and Sky/BT/Amazon-sponsored — football club pays out in players’ wages every year.

And with the Six Nations not listed by the government as a ‘Group A’ event like Wimbledon (meaning it must stay on terrestrial), the gloves, if you excuse the mixed metaphors, are off.

You can see why CVC Capital Partners (currently worth £75bn) want the power to control all the Six Nations’ commercial activity; some of the bigger games — England v Wales, for instance — can attract up to 9m viewers on ‘free to air’ telly.

But the home unions’ main concern is that, should the rights be lost to ‘subscription’ TV, the sport’s profile would drop significantly and that’s not something they should sell their souls for. That was the argument put forward when Sky first won exclusive rights to the Premier League.

Folks, that was nearly 30 years ago...

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