Friday 18 August 2017

Roy Keane has plenty of praise for Spurs - but points out what they must do to take the next step

Corkman believes Liverpool and United should want more

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane is unimpressed with big clubs that are happy to settle for being fourth best.

The Ireland assistant talked club football on a visit to Dublin yesterday, and admitted that the race for a Champions League place leaves him cold.

Liverpool took a step towards a top four finish with Monday night's win at Watford, while his old club Manchester United still have ambitions of qualifying via that route although a Europa League win is their main priority - the medal-winning route would mean more to Keane.

He thinks that's the currency that seasons should be judged by.

"When I see clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United celebrating getting to the top four I cringe a little, I really do," said Keane.

"Do you think Real Madrid and Barcelona would be celebrating getting into fourth? No. Come on, get a grip. If you're at a big club then it's about getting your hands on a trophy, that's the name of the game; the glory.

"People talk about making the top four... It was great for Leicester to win the league last year but for the big teams, the Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas and Arsenals, to be celebrating fourth... I say, shame on you."

Spurs escaped the condemnation of their childhood supporter who feels the Londoners deserve praise for their evolution. Ultimately, though, he believes their next step has to involve opening the trophy cabinet too.

"I still think Chelsea will get the job done," he said. "They are in good form and they have to slip up twice. I think the gap of four points is just too much for Spurs but they have made great progress over the last few years.

"They have outstanding players in attacking positions, they're about to have a new stadium so it's a good time for Spurs although, having said that, you have to try to get your hands on one or two trophies and they have come up just short in the FA Cup semi-finals."

Keane was speaking at a Show Racism The Red Card event in Tallaght and knows that the conclusion of English and European club business will turn the focus onto international matters.

Ireland face a huge June 11 date with Austria that will have a big say in the direction of the World Cup campaign. Prior to that, there are friendly matches with Mexico and Uruguay. At this stage, the 45-year-old is almost in auto-pilot mode as he discusses the quality in Martin O'Neill's group.

"The beauty of working with the players at the moment is that we know they will give it 100pc every time they walk out on the pitch. That's all you can ever ask of people," he said.

"It's a really tough group but we have a brilliant manager, some decent staff, some really good players with desire and heart and fight and pride in playing for Ireland; probably short of one or two really top-quality players, Gareth Bale or players like that, but we make up for it with our desire."

Closer to home, Keane is also following Cork's pursuit of glory with interest and would be quite happy if they wrestled domestic honours from Dundalk.

"They've had a few tough years in terms of being runners-up to Dundalk who have been amazing," he said, "Dundalk have lost two or three top players over the last year or two and it seems like it's catching up on them.

"Cork City have made some clever signings. They've been working hard. John Caulfield has done a great job there. I think them winning the cup last year has given them that extra bit of confidence and belief.

"It would be great if they push on because there is great support there - they've had ups and downs, like a lot of League of Ireland clubs they've been on that rollercoaster. The cup last year was great but to win the league would be great for the club and the city."

Meanwhile, Ireland winger Jonny Hayes has made the shortlist for the Scottish PFA's Player of the Year award.

The Dubliner is the only non-Celtic player on the final four after his quality performances for Aberdeen were recognised by his peers. Hoops trio Moussa Dembele, Stuart Armstrong and Scott Sinclair are also up for the award.

Irish Independent

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