The Second Half Review

Roy Keane’s new book is an intriguing masterpiece that finally reveals the hard-man midfielder’s well-hidden good points.

Ghost written by Roddy Doyle The Second Half does little to dispel the notion that Keane could pick a fight in an empty room. At times it seems he is at pains to reassure us he was this monster of myth and legend, portraying his violent clashes in detail. Such as his infamous clash with Alf-Inge Haaland, the incident in the Highbury Tunnel and a fight with his own teammate Peter Schmeichel.

Another intriguing part was Keane’s own take on the fallout with Alex Ferguson and the infamous MUTV interview. He even admits to breaking down in tears just two minutes from Old Trafford upon realizing it was all over.

This was the first instance in the book where he shows his extraordinary capacity for self-analysis. Light years from how he appears on the surface as an individual with gruff indifference “This is me, if you don’t like me tough”.

He shows a lot more of this side upon becoming a manager; there is definitely a lighter tone at that stage of the book. Such as when he got his office at Sunderland “I had a leather chair that swung around, a swivel chair. For the first few days I used to swing around on it. If any of the players or staff had peeped through the office window they would have seen me going, “Wheeeh!”

There is also surprising self-doubt when explains his reasons for not getting too comfortable in the office by putting up family photos; if things went badly it could be cleared quickly “one box”. On the flipside he felt not having many photos might present an image to the players that he really is a hard case.

He supplies a delightful putdown of Robbie Savage who he considered bringing to Sunderland to add character to the squad, “So I got Robbie’s number and rang him up. It went to his voicemail: “Hi, it’s Robbie — whazzup!” — like the Budweiser ad. I never called him back. I thought: “I can’t be f****** signing that”.

Slowly he comes to love the club and becomes engaged in the complexities of management. After completing a massive turnaround in his first season Keane took Sunderland from the bottom to top of the championship and promotion. In his second season he managed to keep Sunderland up but after an okay start to his third season an innocuous phone call with new owner Ellis Short resulted in his resignation.

After six months out of work he became manager of Ipswich, he didn’t enjoy his time there near as much and was sacked after 20 months. On this he was again brutally honest “I don’t think I’m a bad manager, but at Ipswich I managed badly”.

The rest of the book covers his time as a pundit right up until his appointment as Ireland assistant to Martin O’Neil and subsequent appointment as Paul Lambert’s assistant at Aston Villa.


Image courtesy of James FJ Rooney via Flickr,

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