Wednesday 18 September 2019

'You have got to admire his honesty' - Michael Owen is a Roy Keane fan but admits his management style needs to change

Roy Keane and Gary Neville in Dublin last week
Roy Keane and Gary Neville in Dublin last week
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Michael Owen believes Roy Keane's brand of brash honesty may be outdated in the modern game, even though the former Liverpool and Manchester United striker admits he loves listening to the Irishman's unfiltered comments.

Keane hit the headlines earlier this month when he questioned former Ireland striker Jonathan Walters for showing emotion in interviews as he reflected on a series of family tragedies.

In an exclusive interview with Independent.ie as he promoted his book Reboot in Dublin, Owen gave us his thoughts on Keane's latest brush with controversy, as he admitted being too honest is a problem that can get you into trouble.

"We want to see our pundits being open and speaking from the heart, but then some people don't like it if they are too honest," he said.

"Roy Keane is an extreme example of that. He has a lot of very forceful views and airs them as he sees fit, without any real filter. He clearly doesn't mind who he criticises and you know what, it makes for real entertainment.

"A lot of stuff he says, I agree with him. Then there are comments and you think, ouch... that was a bit below the belt, but he won't change for anyone, it seems.

"You have got to admire his honesty and I tip my hat to him for being more transparent than almost anyone else out there when it comes to giving views on football. That's the way he operates and there are a lot of things there that are good to listen to.

"He is insightful, he offers fantastic stories about his time in the game and when you have operated at the level Roy Keane operated at, it makes for fascinating viewing or reading.

"People want to listen to players who have played at the top of the game that have an opinion. It is the reason why I did a book and why it has created such a stir in the last few days since its release."

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While Keane's comments are always guaranteed to grab headlines, Owen suggests the Irishman's no-nonsense approach will count against him as he plots a return to a full-time managerial role almost eight years after he left his position as Ipswich boss.

"Someone like Keane might have a problem in the modern game, in taking that honesty into a dressing room in 2019," he added.

"We are not just talking about football here, but also everyday life. The world has changed, we are all a little bit softer than we once were.

"The successful managers now are not shouters and screamers, they don't rule by fear any more. We see that with Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and that's the way the game has gone now.

"It is very much a case of the final whistle goes, run on to the pitch, give everyone a cuddle and tell them how great they are. Times have changed and when you look at the managers who are doing well, it confirms you have to adapt to those this new landscape we are all on now.

"This more calm approach seems to be the way to get the best out of people these days. People like being told they are doing a great job and to have an arm around, but that doesn't appear to be the Roy Keane way.

"It may be hard to be a dictator-type manager and get players to perform on command these days, as the soften approach seems to get results in the workplace of whatever industry you are in now."

Michael Owen: Reboot, published by Reach Sport, is on sale now. Digital and audiobook also available.

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