RUN through a checklist of the boxes Roy Keane needs to tick before he could even consider a new life in Istanbul and the first thought which springs to mind is stark. Is he out of his mind?
TURKEY, of all the places in the football world, seems least suited to a man with a volatile personality and a deep distaste for anything less than straight talk.
Keane arrived in Istanbul yesterday for a formal chat with some wealthy men who have clearly gone to some lengths to meet him and believe that he is right for Kasimpasa.
But before he even left the ground on the long flight to Istanbul, a club vice-president suggested that the meeting was indeed a formality and that Keane was as good as theirs.
In the Keane bible, that’s a mortaler. Many have presumed they knew the mind of the Corkman before and found out to their cost that he is very much his own man.
At least the comment from Hasan Hilmi Oksuz confirmed the veracity of speculation which first surfaced late last week and gathered considerable momentum over the weekend but wishful thinking and an over enthusiastic interpretation of Keane’s decision to make the trip to Turkey rather than hard facts appear to have driven reports that he was as good sold on the idea of uprooting from Suffolk for a very different life beside the |Bosphorus.
If nothing else, Keane’s sudden association with a job in a foreign land creates the impression of a man in demand and with a number of job possibilities opening up in England, that’s certainly no harm at all.
Perhaps the simple novelty of Istanbul and no doubt, the considerable financial muscle which appears to be behind the offer from Kasimpasa appeals to his sense of adventure.
But any rational perusal of the possibility must tell him that he would be taking an extraordinary punt by taking on a new country, language and culture which is very, very different from anything he has experienced in what has been a relatively cosseted existence as a professional footballer and then manager in these parts.
In England, Keane is seen as damaged goods but time and the idiosyncracies of club owners and chairman will surely produce another opportunity for him before long.
To go to Turkey and fail would mean that his career in management would be toast.
As Ronnie Whelan mentioned in these pages yesterday, football fans in Turkey and Greece are encouraged to enjoy a hands-on relationship with players and managers and this manifests itself in a particularly scary way when results are poor.
Coupled with an agressive and often savage approach to international relations when faced by opposing teams, Turkish football fans have a worldwide reputation for intolerance.
Many moons ago, Cork City travelled to Istanbul for a Champions League preliminary against Galatasaray and before the game, players and journalists were treated like royalty.
The good humour remained during the game when Gala went 2-0 ahead but evaporated the instant Dave Barry stuck one in the net - a vital away goal which was taken very |personally by everyone in the stadium with Turkish passports.
We had to run across the pitch with the linesman, Damien Richardson and the Cork City subs at the final whistle and like Eric Cantona a few short weeks later, had our legs whacked by surly and very burly cops.
Every window in the dressing room was put in and we cowered underneath massage tables and benches until some time had passed and the mob drifted away into the night.
The 2-1 result gave Cork City, then a very wily and solid team under Richardson, a great chance of pushing on in the Champions League but Galatasaray repeated the result in Bishopstown a few weeks later and earned the right to take on Manchester United in the next round.
Keane was there for that double-header and given the extreme nature of the events during the away leg at the Ali Sami Yen, it is something of a surprise that he is even considering the Kasimpasa proposal.
Manchester United conceded three and were lucky to draw the first-leg at Old Trafford but nothing could have prepared Alex Ferguson and has players, which numbered Denis Irwin among them, for what was to follow in Istanbul. Welcome to Hell indeed.
Try this from Keane’s autobiography where he tells the story of the United dressing room after they were dumped out of the Champions League, Cantona was decked by a policeman and Bryan Robson was battered from behind by a riot shield.
“In the dressing room Eric went crazy. While the rest of us just wanted to get out of there, he was determined to go back outside to sort out the rogue cop who’d been wielding his truncheon. Eric was a big, strong lad. He was serious. He insisted he was going to kill ‘that f***er’. It took the combined efforts of the manager, Brian Kidd, and a few of the players to restrain him. Normally I wouldn’t have backed off a fight, but even I wasn’t up for this one. There were a lot of Turks out there!”
This is the place Keane travelled to yesterday so he does at least know how bad it can get.
Not a good move no matter what way you view it.