Keane rips into mediocre, insane Ireland before Wales crunch game
A floundering manager in charge of an underachieving set of players backed up by an incompetent organisation: Roy Keane said nothing new in his assessment of the Republic of Ireland football team and the Football Association of Ireland yesterday, but he did say it again. Loudly.
Three days before the Republic begin must-win European Championship qualifiers against Wales and Slovakia, Keane ripped into the manager, Steve Staunton, and the whole Irish set-up. "There's a fine line between loyalty and stupidity, a very fine line" was perhaps his harshest criticism - this concerned Staunton's selection policy - but the FAI will not be pleased to have been labelled "mediocre", nor will senior players in the squad who were deemed to be "not setting the world alight" in the Premiership. Keane named them: Steve Finnan, Robbie Keane, John O'Shea, Damien Duff and Shay Given.
Last Friday in Sunderland Keane said that Liam Miller had been omitted from the Irish squad partly because he came from Cork and in Dublin yesterday, where he publicised Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, he showed that his comments on Miller had only been a warm-up tirade.
"I'm sure Steve [Staunton] will say, 'I'll pick what I think is the best team'," Keane said. "If they qualify, then fair enough, you can say 'I got it right'. It's your job as a manager. You've got to pick the right team, you've got to manage. But if you keep picking the same players who aren't performing all the time, that's insanity. You'll get the same results.
"We all know the players I'm talking about. There's a fine line between loyalty and stupidity. A very fine line.
"It will be like that against Wales. The four or five senior players have to step up to the plate. But they've been asked before. Look at some of our players at the bigger clubs. Robbie Keane is doing OK at Tottenham, John O'Shea is in and out at [Manchester] United, Duffer's at Newcastle with Shay. But none of these players at this moment in time are setting the world alight. Also Steve Finnan at Liverpool."
Keane added that the FAI had a lot to learn from the rugby and cricket people, and last month's skin-of-the-teeth win over San Marino did not impress him either. "If you're celebrating beating San Marino, then that worries me," he said.
But he still thinks the Irish, who have already lost to Germany and Cyprus and drawn with the Czech Republic, will beat Wales. "Wales aren't that great," he said.