No World Cup jolly for Roy

ROY Keane has turned his back on a chance to work at next month’s World Cup, so that he can concentrate all his efforts into preparing Ipswich Town for next season.

Keane was considering various offers to work as a TV pundit in South Africa, where his forthright opinions and valuable experience would have been a big asset to broadcasters. He certainly had no shortage of invitations.

But the Town boss has sacrificed a glamorous trip to football’s biggest showcase event, in an effort to make an early start on moulding his own squad for next term.

Ironically Keane, as Republic of Ireland’s talisman midfielder, went home early before the start of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, following a bust-up with national coach Mick McCarthy.

Eight years on and Keane is again going to miss the World Cup, but this time the reason is less sinister - it’s a case of him putting his club first, ahead of media opportunities.


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The Irishman, when he was appointed to the Portman Road hot-seat, declared that he wanted to secure promotion to the top flight within two years. That was 13 months ago, so Keane needs to succeed next season to fulfil his ambitions.

“I’ve had a couple of offers to go to the World Cup,” confirmed Keane, who was named Ireland’s best player at the 1994 World Cup in USA.

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“But I see this summer as my most important summer as a manager. It’s vital for me to get the club into shape.

“It’s also an important summer because of the poor season we had last year.

“I’ll be watching games like all managers, but I wanted to be available to deal with anything that comes up.

“There’s no switch off for me this summer, and a lot of hard work to be done. I’ve got to get on with it.

“I want to be as fully focused and as fully available as possible, which is why I am not going to the World Cup,” added Keane.

So while Town defender, Tommy Smith, will be playing for New Zealand at next month’s World Cup, his club manager will not be out there to see him. Instead, the Irishman will watch his young centre-half in action from the comfort of his new home in Suffolk.

Town endured a torrid start to last season, after winning the first two matches of Keane’s reign at the back end of the previous campaign.

They were rock bottom of the Championship in late October, following no wins in 14 games, with Keane having taken until the end of August to recruit the likes of Grant Leadbitter, Carlos Edwards and Liam Rosenior.

The ex-Sunderland manager is looking to prepare better during this pre-season, and to that end he has decided to remain in Suffolk, rather than sit behind a microphone in South Africa.

Back in 2002, Keane’s infamous “incident” with McCarthy, that led to his dramatic departure from Ireland’s training base in Saipan, centred around the player’s unhappiness with the inadequate training facilities, and what he claimed to be his country’s poor preparations.

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