Roy Keane pulls no punches in his new autobiography, The Second Half, criticising owners, managers and players, but also having regrets when backed into a corner
1 Welcome to Hell
"My first game (for Celtic) was Clyde, away, in the third round of the Scottish Cup. We were beaten 2-1. It was a nightmare. I wasn't happy with my own game. I did OK, but OK wasn't good enough. After the game – the disappointment. As I was taking my jersey off, I noticed the Nike tag was still on it. When I got on the bus John Hartson, a really good guy, was already sitting there and he was eating a packet of crisps – with a fizzy drink. I said to myself: 'Welcome to Hell.'"
2 Who’s in charge?
“It might seem strange but you find out about characters when you look to see who’s in charge of the music. A young lad might want to put on the latest sound; an older player might say: ‘I’m the senior player’ and put himself in charge. But I noticed none of the players (at Sunderland) were in charge of the music and this was a concern for me. A member of staff was in charge. I was looking at him thinking: ‘I hope someone nails him here.’ The last song before the players went on to the pitch was ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba. What really worried me was that none of the players – not one – said: ‘Get that shit off.’ They were going out to play a match, men versus men, testosterone levels were high. You’ve got to hit people at pace. Fuckin’ ‘Dancing Queen.’ It worried me. I didn’t have as many leaders as I thought.”
3 Blue is not the colour
“Our first session (at Ipswich) was open to the fans. But nobody came. My first day – you’d have thought a couple of school kids would have been dragged in by a dad or grandad. The warmth wasn’t there. Then there was the blue training kit. I don’t like fuckin’ blue. City were blue. Rangers were blue. My biggest rivals were blue. Is that childish? I couldn’t feel it – the chemistry. Me and the club. I get annoyed now, thinking that I should have been able to accept it: I was there to do a job.”
4 Lack of respect from Ferguson
Keane reveals that when he took Sunderland to Manchester United for his first match back at Old Trafford as a manager there was no post-match drink with Alex Ferguson. "Ferguson never turned up. I thought that was out of order. He called me a few days later to apologise. He said he'd had to rush off after the game and he'd waited a long time for me. I told him he should have a drink with me, like he would have with any other manager, and that he hadn't shown me or my staff proper respect."
5 Voicemail turnoff
"I rang Mark Hughes. Robbie (Savage) wasn't in the Blackburn team and I asked Mark if we could try to arrange a deal. Sparky said: 'Yeah, yeah, he's lost his way here but he could still do a job for you.' Robbie's legs were going a bit but I thought he might come up to us (at Sunderland) , with his long hair, and give us a lift – the way Yorkie (Dwight Yorke) had, a big personality in the dressing room. Sparky gave me permission to give him a call. So I got Robbie's mobile number and rang him. 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 fucking signing that.'"
6 Bottom of Ellis Short’s shoe
"The owner (Ellis Short) rang me. He said: 'I hear you're coming in only one day a week.' I went: 'It's nonsense. He said he was disappointed with the Bolton result. His tone wasn't good. 'Your location – where you live. You need to move up with your family. I was in the third year of a three-year contract. The arrangement – the flat in Durham, family in Manchester – has suited everybody, until now. I'm not sure if I said something like: 'Why don't you move up?' He lived in London. But I did say: 'I'm not moving, I'm in the last six or seven months of my contract anyway.' The conversation didn't end well. It was a case of 'no one should tell me where to live' and the accusation that I was coming in only one day a week hung there. I thought he was talking to me; he spoke to me like I was something on the bottom of his shoe. And before I knew it was – it was over. It still saddens me. I still think I should be the manager of Sunderland. I really liked the club, and I liked the people. But Ellis Short was new – and I wasn't his manager. It's probably true that the relationship was never going to work, and not because he was some big, bad Texan and I was some grumpy Northsider from Cork. I don't like being spoken down to."
7 Hard on the Corkmen
Damien Delaney came in and did OK. I was hard on him, probably because I knew him and he was from Cork. I went over the top. I was the same with another lad, Colin Healy. He was from Cork, too, and I told him he was moving his feet like a League of Ireland player. It was wrong. Colin was new at the club; I should have been bending over backwards for him. I made the point about Ellis Short talking to me like I was something on the bottom of his shoe. I think I spoke like that to some people at Ipswich. "
8 Walters is a wanted man
"Jon Walters wanted to leave. We were four or five games into the season. He'd heard that Stoke were interested in him. I said: 'Jon, I haven't had a call from anybody.' He came back a few days later. 'They're definitely after me.' I said: 'I've heard nothing. If there's a bid, I'll tell you. I've nothing to hide from you. You can ring the owner. I don't do the business deals.' 'I'm not having this.' There was effing and blinding, a bit of shoving. 'Why don't you fucking believe me?' He was sold to Stoke a week later. We've shook hands since."
9 Couñago’s reply
“Pablo Couñago was a player I didn’t particularly like or get on with. No club was interested in taking him – and I was happy to tell him that. I just found him dead lazy. He went: ‘How are we going to win anything with you as manager?’ I nearly physically attacked him – but I didn’t.”
10 A class apart
“He (Paul Scholes) was a top, top player. But I still don’t fall for the boy-next-door image, or that he’s dead humble. He has more of an edge to him. Everyone thinks he lives in a council flat. The Class of ’92 – all good players, but their role at the club has become exaggerated. ‘Class of 92’ seems to have grown its own legs; it has become a brand. It’s as if they were a team away from the team, and they’re not shy of plugging into it. We all had the same aims; we all had the hunger.”