'This is another incident in a sequence of incidents that are unsavoury' - Brian Kerr weighs in on Keane controversy
Brian Kerr has criticised the Irish management team and Roy Keane over an altercation with Ireland players, branding it as 'another incident in a sequence of incidents that are unsavoury'
Midfielder Harry Arter has stepped away from the squad following an argument with Keane during a summer training camp, with the Ireland assistant manager also getting into a heated row with Jon Walters. Both incidents were sparked by Keane's annoyance with the time the duo spent receiving treatment for injuries.
Audio emerged today of Ireland defender Stephen Ward discussing the altercations, with the Burnley player claiming that Keane unleashed foul-mouthed tirades at both Walters and Arter.
Speaking today, O'Neill questioned the validity of Ward's claims, and backed his assistant.
"First of all, I don't think that Stephen [Ward] was there. Stephen wasn't actually there. He was just picking up on things; something that we talked about at the beginning of the week. Probably not anything more really to report," O'Neill said.
"Jon [Walters] is fine. Harry is perhaps not so fine. But I said to you before, you would have to ask whether that is the complete reason why Harry is not participating in these games this time. I think you probably know that anyway, because Harry has let that be known to a few people anyway, on the reasons that he has decided not to come.
"First of all the incidents took place at the end of May. They have surfaced months later. It's not the first altercation between players and staff. I had one with the man beside me on Friday (David Meyler) and he took it on board.
"Sometimes I think the game has changed. Players need to go out and prove the management wrong. If you're asking about Roy's criticism of players, this is my responsibility. I will take full responsibility of anything that goes on."
Speaking on Virgin Media Three tonight, former Ireland manager Kerr hit out at the Irish management team over the handling of the incident, and questioned whether Keane was fulfilling his duties as assistant manager.
"What is the role of the assistant manager? It's certainly not to be giving players stick who aren't training," Kerr said.
"The role of the assistant manager is generally to assist the manager with coaching, giving an opinion when you are asked, to help out on the training ground, to observe players and scout. It's not - in my view - to be challenging players as to why they are not training, challenging players as to why they are getting treatment for injuries. This is another incident in a sequence of incidents that are unsavoury and not the right thing that should be happening around out team."
Kerr also thinks that O'Neill's references to the management style of Brian Clough are irrelevant to modern players.
"Another thing I'd mention is the number of times that Martin O'Neill goes back to his playing career and the management style of Brian Clough, at this stage it is farcial," Kerr added.
"It's 40 years and has very little relevance to the current requirements of modern management. He shouldn't be referring back to him and how Brian Clough did his business at half time or how he spoke to the players. The game has moved on now and I don't think that is at all relevance to this situation."
Kerr also said that the Ireland team has lost its connection with the fans after a string of poor performances.
"The team and his staff have lost the connection with the Irish soccer public in my view. People don't go to the matches expecting a bit of joy in their lives. Who is responsible for that? The management, the staff and the players."