Friday 6 December 2019

Full transcript of yesterday's explosive row between Roy Keane and the media

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane was far from pleased with journalists at the press conference
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane was far from pleased with journalists at the press conference
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane's news conference with daily newspapers at Portmarnock yesterday took a dramatic turn. Here is a transcript of Keane's briefing which dealt with the Scotland fallout, his beef with Everton over their protection of James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman, a caustic Jack Grealish update and then a remarkable exchange with two journalists regarding his own standing in light of last week's incident at the team hotel.

Question: Do you think you might learn something more about the players in defeat than victory?

KEANE: Yeah, we hope so, yeah. Obviously a lot of the lads who started the other night won’t have the opportunity to make up for it because I’m guessing there will be a lot of changes. But obviously, yeah, I think you do learn a lot more about the group with defeats rather than with victories. When you win a game sometimes, obviously everyone gets a bit carried away but, yeah, there’s lots to be learned of course.

But obviously we won’t see the lads now for what, three months, that’s the difficult part of the job of course. Just when you think you’re getting to know somebody they miss a game or they don’t perform to the level that you’re expecting and you think, mmmm, I’m still sussing this guy out.

But I don’t want people to get the impression because we didn’t perform the other night...the players are all hurting but we all show it in different ways. I probably wouldn’t be a great one for hiding it but from other lads you knew the dressing room was hurting. But the great thing is that we do have the opportunity, we do have home games, we do have the opportunity to make up for it.

And that’s the good part of sport as well. It wasn’t a final the other night, we’re not out of it, it’s not the end of the competition, we’ve a lot of these teams to come to the Aviva and if we don’t perform at the Aviva then that’s it, we’ve had our opportunities but it’s not all done and dusted; far from it.

 

Q: You seemed to get a bit agitated the other night on a couple of occasions trying to get a message across? And then the referee...

Keane: The referee, there was nothing with the referee, I was surprised he came over. That’s our job to try to get instructions on to a player or to appeal a decision. I don’t think there was anything over the top. And the referee came over and there was no, he was quite polite. I think it was nothing but obviously when a referee comes over and there’s a couple of photographs taken as usual it always looks 100 times worse than what it is but it was no big thing. You’re trying to get instructions on to players but that is our job if you think that someone needs to....

 

Q: In relation to the first half when you were quite vocal...

Keane: I think I was vocal in the second half too. Sometimes it’s geeing a player up. Maybe if Aiden’s on the far side it might look a bit more vocal because the player’s on the far side but you’re giving instructions to players near you as well but of course you don’t have to shout as much so nah, I don’t think that was anything unusual or different in terms of how I normally try to coach or manage.

I don’t think it was over the top, you have to know when to step in and step out. It can’t always be from the manager and obviously the manager here appreciates that. I’ll go back to when I first came in, it’s just knowing your boundaries, not to be standing up for 10 minutes at a time. Sometimes it is to the midfielders, saying ‘listen, there’s 10, 15 minutes gone, let’s get a foothold in the game.

It mightn’t be anything too clever that you’re shouting sometimes when you’re just trying to gee them up but I’d like to think when you’re shouting instructions at the team or the players, it’s obviously constructive.

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Republic of Ireland's Darron Gibson and Scotland's Shaun Maloney during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier at Celtic Park

 

Q: How did you feel Gibson and Hendrick performed the other night?

Keane: I think they done ok. It’s always a big battle in the middle of the park. Naismith was always going to cause us problems. You got Brown and Mulgrew, two fairly experienced players. But maybe like a lot of other players they probably think they could have done better. That’s only natural when you lose a game of football.

 

Q: Were they disappointed afterwards?

Keane: I’d like to think so, yeah, all the players will be disappointed but I didn’t have any sit-down chats with the two midfielders. Gibbo is gone back now with an injury, they’ll all be disappointed.

 

Q: Roy can I just ask, you’ve been working with these players for a year...four competitive games...are you happy to work with what you have or do you feel there’s a need for new blood?

Keane: I think that’s always the conversation you’re having when we come together. We’re here for three or four days. People keep talking about players who aren’t here – obviously there are one or two injured, players like Glenn and Willo, and there’s always conversations about young Grealish and people like that – but we still felt the starting eleven was good enough to get a result.

But when you don’t get the result, of course, there can be an overreaction. Why didn’t Robbie play? Could we have played a different system? Hindsight is the most dangerous word you can use in football. We’ve all been there. But before the game I felt – and we still feel - well I do - that team was good enough to get a result.

But when you don’t get it, you’re open to criticism. And you have to take your medicine. That’s the business we’re in. We also got criticism after the result in Germany. You have to take all that with a pinch of salt. We have an experienced staff. We do sit down and discuss these things and analyse it. We do that. But I also know that, when I was a player and when I was a manager previously, the players have to go out and do the business.

 

Q: Roy, the other night Martin said he felt that if Friday had been a club game, James McCarthy could have played...but he didn’t elaborate on whether he meant as a manager he would have been happy picking him or if James..

Keane: It’s a difficult one. I think if you ask most international managers, it’s a difficult role when a player turns up and he’s not quite 100pc fit or he might be struggling.

We have had that a number of times with lots of players. It’s the big downside of international football. When a player turns up and they’re not sure if they’re going to be fit, you have to try and be fair to the club and you have to try and be fair to the player but, obviously, you’re working for your country and you want to get the right result.

So it’s a difficult one for James as well. We talk about the manager here and the manager there but there’s a player in between all that. And I can speak from experience, he’s under lots of pressure. And also you’re hoping the player can make the decision and say, ‘Listen, I’ll give it a go’ or whatever it might be.’ We can talk all day about x-rays and scans, my goodness, you know.

 

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James McCarthy
 

Q: So you’ve no qualms about decisions he’s making?

Keane: James? I worry that he’s under lots of pressure, particularly from Everton’s point of view because every time there is an international match, it does seem to be Seamus and James under lots of pressure – they’re turning up or they mightn’t turn up or they’re struggling. And obviously, the manager, Roberto Martinez, is going to try and look after Everton. That’s only natural as well.

So there has to be, I think, some sort of sit-down conversation and say, ‘listen…’ I think Martin’s been more than good enough here, particularly the friendlies but these are big qualifying matches now. And you’re just, I think, looking for a bit of fairness and try and get the balance right.

But, unfortunately for us, whatever way you look at it, James didn’t train all week – it’s not as if he went out and had a jog, it’s not as if he’s joined in a little bit of possession. So that was a difficult one. But, also, some times it may be up to the player to say, ‘Listen, I’m going to try and train, whatever my club manager says or whatever the doctor says or whatever the scan says’. Because you do know your own body.

 

Q: Would you like James to be a bit more assertive?

Keane: Em, well if it carries on for the next year or two as I think it would put a lot of pressure on James and that is unfair on the player. If the player is not fit, he is not fit and I don’t think Martin has ever had a problem with that. If a player turns up and it's touch and go and scans are clear but you know, there is constantly pressure from the club.

There is a guarantee when the player turns up first they are getting phone calls left, right and centre from their 15 physios at the club. It’s not one physio but 15 of them.

Roberto Martinez has to look after his club and he is probably thinking they have European games. Roberto, I don’t think he has ever played senior level at international level and maybe he doesn't appreciate how big  it is for us and how big the games are for us.

You could argue all day but I think it's about getting the balance right when the qualifiers come around. If you think a player has half a chance ... I always hear about people talking about players being 100pc fit, I don’t know too many players who are 100% fit, I don’t know what that means.

 

Q: Is Glenn Whelan the other side of that, he could have been out for six weeks ...?

Keane: He came over. I'm not comparing Glenn Whelan with James, let's be careful there with that one. To be fair James has come over and obviously got his medical treatment and felt he wasn't right.

There was no issue with Martin. I don’t think he would ever push a player if he didn't think they were fit. Every player is different circumstance. Glenn came over, had one or two days training and obviously didn't feel he was right but they are all different cases.

 

Q: Roy, there is no suggestion that the ongoing speculation about McGeady and McCarthy situation and their background influenced James at all

Keane: Nah, I don't think so. When they made the decision to play for Ireland, I don’t think it was. You might have to ask them but personally I don’t think it was. They declared for Ireland, they are Irish and are proud to be involved with us.

I don't think that was an issue. Why would it be? As I say, they are Irish and they are playing for Ireland.

 

Q: You mentioned a sit down discussion. Is that with Roberto, you mean? In the context of James

Keane: Maybe from the managers point of view yeah, sometimes ... if there are mixed messages and medical staff speaking to medical staff, yeah, you can get mixed messages and ultimately the person who will suffer is the player.

I have experienced all that myself and there are two sides to the argument. As I said, Martin has been more than good enough, particularly in one or two friendlies at the tour at the end of last season.

You always get the impression from Everton that Seamus and James are both barely able to walk, type of thing. So when they actually turn up and they are walking through the reception..like praise the lord, it's a miracle.

 

Q: Talking about the new players who have come in, Cyrus Christie and David McGoldrick, what qualities do they bring?

We need a bit of competition, particularly at right back. McGoldrick will give us something a bit different. I’ve seen him a number of times, he’s in good form, he’s a different type of player, whether it be to Robbie, Shane, Murph, Stokes...he’s scored goals regularly for the last year.

I know he got a bad injury last year and you’re thinking other than that, Ipswich would definitely have got into those playoffs, but again the best way to get a look at these players is when they’re in the squad.

They’ve shown that commitment from day one and hopefully they’ll both start on Tuesday and what you want them to do is give the manager a headache, so that when they turn up the next time, and the impression we’ve got the last few days is that they’re both happy to be here and we’re delighted to have them, and they’re both doing well at club level and they’re in good form

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New boys Cyrus Christie, right, and David McGoldrick could have interesting roles in Ireland’s friendly against the United States.

 

Q: Do you see Christie offering competition at left back too?

Possibly, yeah, he’s more natural at right back but if there’s going to be more sagas over the next few years with Everton and Seamus then we want players to be ready to step in because obviously we know Seamus is a very important player for us. But we don’t want the predicament of going to the world champions and playing a midfielder at right back.

You need competition, of course you do. Sometimes we’re looking for the next 5-10 years for some of these players to come on the scene and do a job for us. Left back, obviously we’ve got Wardy but you’ll always think that Wilson could do a job at left back, that’s fine. Cyrus is hopefully competition for Seamus and that’ll be good for Seamus as well.

 

Q: Roy, you work with Jack Grealish at club level. Is he any closer to making a decision?

No, not that I’m aware of. I don’t ask him anymore

 

Q: Is that because you’re sick of asking him or leaving him to make his own mind?

Sometimes, it’s respect, you don’t want to pester people but unfortunately, you know, I think a lot would be coming from Jack’s Dad. We could be waiting a bloody long while, knowing his Dad.

 

Q: Roy can I ask about the other night again. The disappointing performance the other night. Was it a reflection, in your view, of a failure of temperament on the night because of the occasion or maybe expose a quality with team we have?

We didn’t show enough quality, but I think we have quality, it’s there, but it’s well and good having quality on the training ground, you want it on the big occasions and we didn’t show enough quality the other night. I don’t think it was the occasion, we are quite an experienced team out there, we have lads playing every week in the Premiership. Put it this way.

If we think the atmosphere affected them the other night then we are in trouble. We’ve got to enjoy these games. We went to Germany, the players, and I thought we did ok that night, we went to Georgia and got a result, yeah, ok, we’re not going to be a team that strings 25-30 passes together, we’re probably not at that level but we do have the qualities.

 

Q: The Wes Hoolahan question which always comes up. Because of the player he is, inventive, a playmaker. Do we not need that type of player in team all the time?

It depends on the game, it depends how strong we are, depends on the opposition, depends on where we’re playing. Every now and again, people will hang their hat on a certain player like a Wes maybe or a Grealish or a McGeady or whoever it might but it’s up to the manager and staff to try and pick the right team.

But Wes is a good player, Wes has done well for us, but I’ve not seen him around the hotel the last week or two…

 

Q: Sure..but in general

In general, you also have to try and get a foothold in the game and sometimes you play that one off the front, whatever people want to call it, the number 10 role but you’ve got to be a good player to play in that and it’s not just about going forward, it’s about coming back the way

 

Q: Scotland and Ireland are probably fairly even matched in terms of their standing in European football

[interrupts] I’d agree with you on that, yeah

 

Q [continued] Did you think Scotland just kept possession and passed far better than we did?

I don’t know.  If you look at the game,  If you asked me before the game, it was always going to be tight, probably one goal would be in it. Like a derby match, we’ve all seen them over the years whether it be in England or any country. It’ll be nip and tuck. If there’s one team that’s going to nick it, then seven or eight times out of ten, it’ll be the home team.

There’ll be momentum or away team switching off slightly longer than the home team, I think that’s what happened the other night. I’m not getting bogged down by they played better than us or they handled the occasion. I wasn’t sitting in our dug-out thinking, “My God, our lads look lost out there.” We’re looking, “listen get a hold of it, be more of a threat going forward.” You ask yourselves all these questions. I wasn’t sitting thinking “Scotland are handling it better than we are.

 

Q: One last question. That game was probably a must-win for Scotland because there could have been a six point difference. Does the reverse apply for us against Poland in March? Is that a must-win?

Well, that would be the plan, yeah. Every home game we go into, we’re desperate for the three points. Trying to predict where teams might drop points, Germany against us, Poland…I’m not sure. I’m not trying to predict where points might be lost or won. The more times you slip up like we did the other night, puts extra pressure on you to win your home matches. The Polish game is….well it depends on how we do away to Poland. Having lost to Scotland away, we really have to beat Scotland at home now. That’s just stating the obvious. You should be able to deal with that

 

[FAI Press Officer seeks to end conference but one last question is asked continue..

 

Journalist 1: Sorry, Roy, I want to ask this because it was touched upon earlier. I expect to get the stare but I’m going to ask anyway. Martin was asked before the game about the incident, he said it was a distraction and he moved on, I’m just thinking in the last six months..I’d like your thoughts on this. Between the Celtic link, and the Villa link, the book situation and the incident last week..has he had enough distractions?

I’m not going to give you any comment on that...why would you think I have to give you an opinion on everything. Do you think you’ve a right to sit there and ask me anything you want and get an answer. I think I’ve been more than fair with yous

 

Journalist 1: You have, my point is that Martin is being asked about distractions. Has he had enough of those distractions?

What are you asking me for? What are you talking about? What distractions? Can I do anything about the Celtic stuff?

 

Journalist 1: Yeah, the Celtic stuff, Villa

Can I do anything about them things that come up? If I get approached by a club about a job and I’m up front with the manager and the media, do you want me to..how is that a distraction? What can I do about that? You’re making out that I’m bringing all those distractions on..

 

Journalist 1: So it just happens, it’s just coincidence these things happen..

Well if a club approaches me, these things just happen, yeah, and the book. How is the book...do you think the book is a distraction to a group of professional people? Do me a favour.

And people all writing incidents about the other night. Lies. And people have got pals, and talking to them. Do you think I’m going to justify all that to you? And you all sit there and think I’ve got to answer to everything? Who the hell do you think you are? I’ve got to answer to you..

 

Journalist 1: Not to everything, no...it’s a press conference

I answer to the FAI and Martin and if we don’t get the right results, I’ll be gone and you won’t lose a minute’s sleep so don’t worry about distractions. You’re the ones who write about the distractions

 

Journalist 1: We write about them because it seemed to be an obvious thing to write about. There was an incident, so we had to write about it.

Exactly, yeah. But you’re on about Celtic and Aston Villa, what do you want me to do about them? If Celtic approached me, what did you want me to say? You couldn’t get enough of it.

 

Journalist 1: I’m not denying that

So what could I do about the Celtic situation?

 

Journalist 1: I don’t know...it was extraordinary, Martin brought it..

[interrupts]: Incidents, what other incidents, the book. Do you think that was a distraction? The book. Did you think the book was a distraction? An agreement was made six months before I was out of it.

 

Journalist 1: Would you have liked your assistant manager to be bringing out a book before a match?

 

FAI Press Officer interjects: We’ll leave it there, thanks

 

Keane: You’ve asked Martin. What’s he said? You’re asking me what Martin O’Neill might think? I don’t know

 

Journalist 1: I’m thinking has he had enough of these…

Keane: Ask him. Why are you asking me for? Go and see him in the lobby. You’re not brave enough. Why don’t you ask him? You’re not brave enough to ask him...

 

Journalist 1: I am brave enough to ask him, we’ll ask him. I don’t have access.

 

FAI Press Officer: You’ll see him tomorrow. You can ask him tomorrow if you want, yeah

 

Keane [talking whole time]: What are you asking me about what Martin O’Neill might be thinking. Why don’t you ask Martin? What if we qualify? Do you think it’ll be a distraction? Do you think it was a distraction from the result the other night?

 

Journalist 1 : I don’t know..it was the build-up for the 24 hours before the game. Everyone was talking about it?

Keane: What was the problem with that? What was the problem with the build-up to this game?

 

Journalist 1: We were all talking about it..

Keane: Talking about what? Talking about something you don’t have a clue about. Everyone writing lies again. The usual nonsense. This happening, that happening. I’m turning down to...

 

Journalist 2: Roy can I just ask about one final thing? You said you wouldn’t talk about what happened with Frank the other night..

Keane: Frank. Do you know him?

 

Journalist 2: I do know him.

Keane: Of course you do. You know him well, yeah, you know him well. You know Mick McCarthy well don’t you?

 

FAI Press Officer:..Right, listen..Roy has given you his time we’ll leave it there

 

Journalist 2 [Continues]: I don’t ..I know him well

Keane: You know Frank well don’t you?

 

Journalist 2: I know Frank yeah

Keane: You know Frank well. Exactly. [gets up to leave]

 

Journalist 2: Do you want to say anything about the other night?

 

FAI Press Officer: No thanks

 

*Keane walks towards exit

 

Journalist 1: Thanks for your time

 

Journalist 2: Thanks

 

Keane: For what?

 

Journalist 1: For your time

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