Roy Keane suggests Everton players need to toughen up
Koeman taken to task for ‘overloading’ claims as James McCarthy row rumbles on
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at Abbotstown on Tuesday where he expressed concern over James McClean’s back injury. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Okay, so it is hardly the world of football’s JFK assassination moment but the almost 80,000 spectators who were at Wembley for the English FA Cup final on May 20th, 1995, probably all remember where they were the last time Everton won some silverware.
The same, you might have thought, could be said for the 26 players to took part in the game. Well, one took a bit of prompting yesterday.
“Oh, I was out there, yeah,” said a slightly startled Roy Keane before the frustration he must have felt at the final whistle quickly came flooding back to him, “and they were the luckiest team on the planet that day! They bloody were! We missed about 10 chances.”
The Ireland assistant manager had gotten on to the subject while questioning the way the club looks after its own players.
In fact, after being questioned himself about where he stood on the James McCarthy question, Keane questioned quite a few things about Everton but, critically, he suggested that they should take a look at the fact that so many of their players sustain injuries despite not exactly having the heaviest of workloads.
Just for the record, he took trouble to mention at one point that he regards the Goodison Park outfit as “a brilliant football club”, but in a generally good-natured way, he poured Keane-scaled scorn on the notion that McCarthy had been “overloaded” last month while on Ireland duty.
He also suggested that maybe if they won a few more games the Everton players would have more of an insight into the meaning of the word.
“This idea of overloading,” said Keane, with a touch of his trademark derision, “I think Koeman could not be further from the truth. I look at Everton and maybe the players have to toughen up.
“They get lots of injuries with players who are not playing international football so they might have a look at themselves at club level. They are on about overload. I think sometimes a coach or a manager at a club like Everton; you want players playing lots of matches because that’s down to being successful.
“Remind me, when did Everton last win a trophy?” Er, 1995 ... Quite.”
Keane had started out by acknowledging that McCarthy is, in fact, injured and indicating that he, for one, had no problem whatsoever with any player who was genuinely unfit staying on at their clubs in order to concentrate on their recovery.
This might provide some small relief to the midfielder who found himself in the middle of a slanging match last week but not much else said here will have helped to defuse any tensions between the Everton and Ireland camps over player availability.
“They are lucky to have the Irish players that they have there,” Keane observed, “and Everton, traditionally, have always had brilliant Irish lads doing well for the football club so they should not be so quick to stop Irish players coming to play for Ireland.
“I think we’ve had this problem previously with [Roberto] Martinez, I think he was slightly over the top. It’s not a criticism of the players; this is more about Everton and their staff. They were always ‘carrying knock’. I always felt that the Everton players were going to be on crutches or crawling in the hotel door and now it looks as though we are probably going to have that issue again with [Ronald] Koeman. Hopefully not.”
The Dutchman might be forgiven for wondering quite how it was that he walked into this largely one-sided war of words.
McCarthy, in any case, is out on this occasion but of more immediate concern yesterday was the fact that James McClean suddenly seems to be a significant doubt.
The West Brom winger did not train with the rest of the squad after hurting his back at his club and had a scan to assess the scale of the problem.
On the brighter side, Harry Arter is ready and willing. The Bournemouth midfielder has waited a while for his competitive international debut and though Keane carefully avoided anything that might be taken as confirmation that he will start in Austria, he did suggest that the 26-year-old could make a major impact over the longer term for Ireland.
“We like Harry,” he said. He has got qualities. I think he’s been unlucky with us but I’m sure Harry would be the first to say he has areas he needs to improve in as well. I’m always quite happy to tell the players the areas they need to improve on.
“But you have to be a real clown not to advance as a player if you’re surrounded by very good players and Bournemouth have some very good players. So unless he goes off the rails, he’ll be a good player for Ireland for the next few years.
“What he’s looking to do now is to establish himself. I think he’s probably frustrated that he hasn’t got a run but that sometimes happens with players carrying knocks or being injured. Hopefully, Harry will have a nice few days training with us and if he’s called upon he certainly wouldn’t let us down.”