There will always be an audience for his views but Roy Keane’s remarkable presence now comes with unremarkable opinions
In the game of declaring Roy Keane opinions, we have likely gone beyond the point of no return.
The post-Saipan generation may be reaching their own conclusions, yet they've likely grown up listening to their elders asserting their stance.
There's a recurring routine when Keane does an interview similar to his two-parter with the Sunday Independent. Comment camps split into familiar categories. We find the hardcore backers who relish and hang on every word, and if they are from Cork or big Manchester United fans then that is purely a coincidence.
There are the staunch critics who loudly wonder why he still receives so much attention, although true indifference would be saying nothing at all.
And then there's a section of the Irish public that may not take sport all that seriously, but enjoy the theatre that goes with the man himself.
The 9,000-word interview was illuminating in its own way, but there's a very small minority that will not have their position on Keane changed by anything he says or does now, barring a surprise return to management.
When our biggest sporting name speaks, it tends to be interesting, even if a considerable number of the observations are really only interesting because it's Roy Keane that is saying them.
Take, for example, his bemusement at people who heartily enjoy the work of comedians. "People laughing out loud, I don't know about that" read like a line from a 'Gift Grub' sketch and it's the ability to imagine the genuine incredulity that drew a smile.
Keane is described as box-office because the facts and figures back up the demand that exists for his insights. The theory that he is acting a part is shaped by his tendency to deliver value for money. But the quirks and the quips and the rants are the real thing, even if there are contradictions attached.
The man who dislikes laughter is the master of the perfectly timed one-liner; the grump that would be viewed as the antithesis of modern football's banter culture is now the meme and click generator at the centre of it.
Keane's declaration that he would be throwing punches in Manchester United's half-time review was heralded as the signal that football was back. He's in the entertainment business, regardless of how much he may claim to hate it.
And this is a shift. While a major Keane interview was once viewed as a massively important news event, it's now closer to an enjoyable playback of a favourite band's greatest hits collection.
Given what he's lived through, there will always be a demand to hear him speak.
For all his modesty about his ability, Keane is the most impactful football player that Ireland has ever produced. He was better than Lampard and Gerrard and any all-time Premier League XI without him is a nonsense.
But somewhere along the way, the idolatry of Keane allowed a flock to believe that his every word was gospel. He wasn't just right about football; he was right about everything. If he declared an individual a bullsh**ter, then they were probably a bullsh**ter.
This theory hasn't really stood the test of time.
Sportswriters have to accept the fair share of the blame for this.
In the one-on-one interview, there is always a determination to portray the subject as a deep thinker. Don't get me wrong. This can often be true.
However, there can be desperation to portray individuals as possessing a wisdom that places them on a higher plane when sometimes the best athletes are so driven by their own pursuit of excellence that their perspective really isn't that rounded.
With Keane, this went into overload.
In his pomp, Keane was compelling subject matter. It wasn't even just a media thing. Large parts of Niall Quinn's autobiography are taken up by observations about the Corkman.
And in an Irish group that was largely convivial and content to go with the flow, Keane's detachment made him a source of fascination to those who couldn't understand it. There was plenty of commentary about the reasons that lay behind the complexities.
Saipan allowed all manner of theories to formulate, and they get trotted out from time to time. The search for a deeper meaning in the anger might just be running away from the simplicity of a driven, angry man with a short fuse.
Keane's worldview was intriguing when he was slap bang in the centre of the action.
Now? Barry Egan asked him about the Saudi attempt to take over Newcastle, a deal that has generated considerable comment from an ethical perspective. "I really have no interest," he replied, and you'd believe him too.
While he was once vocal on the FAI and John Delaney, the gripes were wrapped around his own experience. It would be illuminating to hear his thoughts on the FAI's unravelling, but we only know that he has a negative take on Keith Andrews who, as it so happens, was an outspoken critic of Martin O'Neill. Funny that.
Then again, Keane had a sweet deal with Delaney's FAI and we all know that no expense was spared for the senior team so he was likely content enough with the facilities and the flights.
We do not know the terms of his exit deal - so perhaps there are limitations there - but the hefty pay-off he received from a broke organisation for being one of the highest-paid assistant managers in international football sits uneasily with this mythical reputation of Keane as the reforming force for good.
Maybe it's easier to be a rebel without a clause. Maybe he just looked for what he was owed, which is what most of us would do in those circumstances if we're truly honest.
As the years pass, we have to accept he's more normal than we thought.
The popular view of his struggles in management is that he grew frustrated by those who didn't meet his standards. It's a convenient excuse that perpetuates his status.
Yes, it seems he did have difficulty in relating to players a few rungs down the football ladder from where he resided.
He has spoken in disparaging terms about the Championship, which is a problem when you are managing Championship footballers.
But the counterpoint articulated by players who operated in a Keane-managed team is that his aura faded over time when failings in his inter-personal dealings became obvious. All things considered, he did a decent job at Sunderland, where he made a rapid impact, yet at Ipswich he did not come across like a leader with progressive ideas.
A collection of the dressing-room anecdotes are fairly dispiriting. Attempts to draw a reaction from youngsters could be savage and left an impact on those singled out. Shane Supple previously spoke on these pages about making sure to look at Keane in the eye when he was in full flight.
Others found what you might kindly describe as 'character-building' tactics harder to stomach. There's nothing especially impressive about getting in the face of a perplexed young pro and asking him if he'd had any success with women on his last night out.
Ipswich alumni joke about the time that Keane sanctioned a social night on a pre-season trip, and then subsequently chided the organiser because he hadn't received a single call to report bad behaviour. Lest we forget, it was their standards that was the problem. His phone hasn't been ringing off the hook with job offers for a reason.
You could spin this story into a wordy psychoanalysis of what it's all about, because this is what we crave with Keane. Or you could just come around to the conclusion that his old-school approach was dated.
Keane enjoyed working with O'Neill and it's fair to say they would share a lot of opinions in common. O'Neill was the dominant decision-maker.
"I guess he was Martin's assistant," said Matt Doherty, when asked to assess the Irish number two's impact in a memorable 2FM interview that prompted angry calls from the departed management team.
"It wasn't necessarily a case where he would take the session and we're doing shape (work) or, 'If the ball goes there, we're all pushing up lads'. I guess he was just a back-up to Martin. I wouldn't say he was much of a hands-on, in terms of on the pitch, assistant."
A good portion of the Irish group felt the same way, but respect for the standing of a icon would prevent them from labouring the point.
If you come out and have a go like Andrews or Jon Walters, then you can expect to get a bit back, quite possibly in front of a live studio audience lapping it all up.
That's the game, and Keane will naturally feel he's entitled to do that given how much time others spend detailing their experiences with him. (No media figure can be sensitive to a Keane outburst about the fourth estate considering the amount of content trading off his name - like this piece of course.)
We also know there's another Keane that exists out of the limelight. He reached out to the ex-League of Ireland player Gary O'Neill when he was diagnosed with cancer and there are many other similar tales where he used the power of his profile in a good way and sought no publicity or applause for it.
A brief crossing of paths to Keane can be a lifelong memory to the other person and it will always be thus.
He will retain that remarkable presence, even if it disguises that so much of what he says these days is actually fairly unremarkable. But Ireland's obsession will linger.
When we hear that instantly recognisable voice, the option is there to switch off or tune out. Whether they are prepared to admit it or not, the vast majority will continue to turn up the volume.
It was early September last year and Roy Keane was in Dublin with Gary Neville for a gig at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, talking about their Manchester United glory years.