Roy Keane: Arsenal players are too obsessed with selfies and six packs
Ireland assistant fears United have gone back to late 1980s ethos, writes John Fallon
Roy Keane's continued absence from the Premier League front line hasn't dimmed his appetite for making forecasts, with Arsenal focus of his most strident views heading into the new campaign.
Any prospects of Arsene Wenger ending a 12-year title drought have been utterly dismissed by a man with seven Premier League winners' medals to his name, as he reckons a coterie of their players are more interested in "selfies, six-packs and their hair."
It's the not the first time that Keane has questioned the priorities of Wenger's players. As a television pundit, the Corkman last year urged the Gunners squad to take a reality check following what he considered excessive post-match celebrations after their FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Championship club Wigan Athletic.
Keane feel that Arsenal lack the mentality to seriously challenge champions Chelsea in 2015-16.
"Ah listen, we have the same thing every year," Keane asserted. "There's too many Arsenal players interested in selfies, whatever they are, and six-packs. Instead of focusing on winning Premier League titles, it's all about how their bodies look and how their hair is. More so than winning football matches is the way things are going.
"They've lots of good players. But it's about having a good team, characters who roll their sleeves up, not just those trying to get their pictures every day of the week, selfies. Selfies will hold them back."
For all the money pumped into overhauling their squad, now amounting to almost €300m under Louis Van Gaal's year-long reign, the Ireland assistant boss is not convinced Manchester United will provide genuine competition for Jose Mourinho's champions.
Liverpool nor Manchester City, he reckons, possess the credentials to threaten Chelsea's crown. Only the onset of complacency engulfing the Blues squad will prevent them from claiming back-to-back titles.
"If Chelsea players show the same hunger and desire they did last year, they'll win the league," he said. "It'll only be if they thought they've already done it that they won't.
"I still think Chelsea are the team to beat because they have the strongest spine. John Terry, their goalkeeper, a couple of lads in the middle of the park and [Eden] Hazard. If [Diego] Costa can stay fit too - which is annoying, every game he approaches he seems to be a fitness doubt - and now there's Falcao in the background.
"I think they're after the boy [John] Stones and they might add one or two more players. Whatever about [Jose] Mourinho, he's got bloody good players, different characters and different dynamics.
"I think United will improve this season, be in the mix but I don't think they have enough. Liverpool certainly haven't.
"Manchester City have bought one or two but I don't think their dressing-room is improved by the players they brought in. Look at all the players they've bought - I'm not sure many would get into the Chelsea team anyhow.
"United have gone away from what they were about. They are a bit like they were in late 1980s, buying a lot of players thinking they will gel into a team.
"United bought so many good players this year and last year, but it's hard to gel. It doesn't happen that quickly. They've bought some good players, yet good players don't necessarily make a good team.
"Van Gaal's had a full pre-season this season. They've looked good from what I've seen so far but they had a good pre-season last year too. I just don't think the spine of United is there; I still think they maybe need a centre-half.
"They will no doubt be better this year, they'll need to be stronger out of the blocks, but if I was a betting man, which I'm not, I'd go with Chelsea to win it again."
Meanwhile, Keane believes his prospects of obtaining a club management post are being hindered by a harsh assessment of his time in charge of Ipswich Town.
The 43-year-old was sacked in January 2011 with his side languishing 19th in the Championship table after 20 months in charge.
"For some reason, whatever happened at Ipswich, I think people held that against me," he observed.
"I've spoken about my mistakes but I feel I did some decent stuff. I think I've been hard on myself. People talk about my man-management, which I actually think was one of my strengths believe it or not, but recruitment was something you could look at.
"If I go back into management, I can tweak a few things. Hopefully, I've learned from working with Martin O'Neill and his staff.
"Since my involvement with the Ireland team, I've had the Aston Villa job, even the offer from Celtic and one or two offers abroad. Maybe it's not tarnished me as much as I think because I do seem to get work opportunities every now and again."
As for the immediate aim of rescuing Ireland's Euro campaign, Keane cites the importance of the emerging players in their bid to dislodge Scotland for the play-off berth in the four remaining games of the campaign.
He said: "We need more goals and one or two players to produce a bit more quality. Jeff Hendrick is a player we'd like to kick on, the same for James McCarthy. Listen, the aim is to win the last four matches. If we do that, we might have a sneaky chance of qualifying."
Sunday Indo Sport