'He's crying on the TV about his family situation' - Roy Keane hits out at Walters, Arter and Ward
ROY KEANE has broken his silence on his departure from Ireland by hitting back at Jon Walters, Harry Arter and Stephen Ward for their part in the fraught period that preceded his exit.
The Corkman offered the opinion that Martin O'Neill was 'harshly treated' and suffered 'nasty' criticism, but said that he sensed the writing was on the wall when businessman Denis O'Brien stopped helping the FAI pay the management's team wages. He acknowledged they were well paid.
But Keane pulled no punches when it came to Walters, Arter and Ward who were all caught up in controversies in his final year in charge.
The assistant boss rowed with Arter and Walters over the amount of training they were doing leading up to a summer international window.
And Ward recorded a Whatsapp audio message describing the argument that went public several months later and brought matters to a head.
Keane said he was annoyed by players that were 'on a programme, and the programme is they don't train or play' before referencing Walters 'not kicking a ball' during his time at Burnley.
"Harry Arter went to Cardiff on loan, they got relegated," he said. "Wardy can't get in the Stoke team at the moment and they're down at the bottom of the league."
But Keane - who was speaking at a Cadbury's Off The Ball roadshow in Dublin's Bord Gais Theatre - saved his most stinging and personal criticism for Walters, referencing his appearances on the media circuit.
"He talks a good game," he said. "Imagine if he'd won a trophy. He goes on the TV about how he was harshly treated by me. He's crying on the TV about his family situation.
"Maybe he should lie low for a while. Have a look at his medals? That wouldn't take long."
"We got beaten by Wales. Jon played. Jon didn't have a good game. Wardy played, he didn't have a good game. They need to go back see how bad they were."
When it was put to Keane that Walters had scored big goals during his Irish career, he replied: "How many years ago is that? How long is he going to live off that? A certain player scored against Holland and he still is," with a clear nod to his old foe Jason McAteer.
The Corkman stressed that he had enjoyed his time with Ireland working under O'Neill, and declined to expand on the FAI's current position.
Indeed, the 48-year-old asserted that he is keen to return to management in the future and might one day like to be considered for the Ireland job.
In a stage appearance in front of over 2,000 guests, he admitted that he still suffers from homesickness and hasn't ruled out the possibility of coming home to live in Cork at some stage in the future.
Keane left the Ireland job in November 2018 after a scoreless draw with Denmark brought down the curtain on a disappointing Nations League campaign and he feels that O'Neill had earned a crack at the Euro 2020 mission. But he knew their goose was cooked pre-Aarhus.
"You smell stuff. You sense something is coming," he said. "But all this idea of losing your job and the sack. That doesn't frighten me. That's part of the industry you're in.
"With the Irish job, I loved every minute of it. People still say to me, sorry, it didn't work out with Ireland. I say 'it did' we had two proper campaigns. We qualified and got to a playoff. If every Irish manager did that, Irish football would be in a decent place.
"There's no doubt in my mind, Martin has been harshly treated. There's a lot of negativity and spin. I knew when Denis O'Brien stopped paying our wages.. I said to Martin, if we get any sort of sticky patch, we'd be gone. With the lack of quality (in the squad), we were always going to hit a sticky patch.
"You were hoping that people would stick with you but nine times out of ten people will panic and make a decision. I loved the buzz of the games. I loved working with Martin. A brilliant player, a really good guy. We had one or two games - Bosnia, Germany - that were up there with the highlights of my career.
"I think we should have been kept on for another campaign. But with the wages situation, I knew I was on a good deal. Towards the end, we were struggling. We were trying young players. We said we had to take our medicine and get through it and we had signed our contracts to stay on. I think Martin was harshly treated, but we'll survive. We are big boys. Life goes on."
Keane asserted that his next job will be as a number one, having realised that life as a number two at club level didn't work for him during his stay at Nottingham Forest.
He did admit to making some mistakes during his career in the dugout, yet argued that stories about his dressing room manner were exaggerated.
"People say I was very demanding," he said. "As if I should almost apologise for it, particularly when I'm in a coaching role.
"Sometimes you're trying to motivate players. Did I get it drastically wrong with the situation at Sunderland? At Ipswich? Maybe they (players) got it wrong. Maybe they over-reacted.
"Brian Clough. You're on about motivation. He punched me one time. He was upset. It was heated. He punched me. I remember thinking 'You're still a brilliant manager'. I came in the next day and trained. I didn't text somebody in the media. Or go on Ratsapp."
Keane also went over old ground by discussing his contentious departure from Manchester United, stressing that he is still waiting for an apology from Alex Ferguson and David Gill over the way in which his abrupt exit was handled.