What Keane really said and why

ROY Keane is headline news but are the headlines always fair?

ROY Keane is headline news but are the headlines always fair? Derek Davis was present when the new Ipswich Town manager made comments about his former Manchester United team-mates that were to fuel a strong media backlash.

ANY years ago when returning from the Royal Tournament I learnt something about measuring success.

Crossing the bridge that links the civilian world to a Royal Navy base on Whale Island, Ray Ewans, a veteran 'Angel' of the Portsmouth Field Gun Crew threw his medal into the river.

The winners at Earl's Court get silver, the losers bronze, there is nothing for the third-placed crew. While I was running for the first time and so proud to have even made the crew, Ewans, a muscular CPTI of some renown, had no place in his life for second best. “It is about winning, about being the quickest with the cleanest drill,” he told me.


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I went home and threw away anything that represented being second and have always aspired to be the best I can, just being involved is not enough when you want to be at the top.

So when Roy Keane answered a highly-respected national football writer's question about the successful crop of managers that have been spawned from the 'class of 1994' Manchester United side I knew exactly where he was coming from.

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We all laughed when the writer rephrased the question and said they had the potential to be successful and Keane said 'you have the potential to be a good journalist' not maliciously, just making a point.

Keane was not being disrespectful or rude about his former team-mates, it certainly doesn't come in the 'blast' category I have experienced, and in context it was a sensible reply that said more about the standards Keane sets than anyone's perceived failure.

I was sitting in that briefing, trying to get my own questions in about how his arrival at Town would work, and heard how Keane also made a point that he felt Mark Hughes had done quite well at Blackburn and Steve Bruce had also done a decent job in keeping Wigan in the top flight.

Indeed Bruce, whose son Alex is trying to prove to the new manager he is worthy of a decent contract, was thanked for his help and support, not to mention tickets for games, given during Keane's unemployed five months.

Happily, Hughes and Bruce saw through the national papers' agenda and laughed off the marks.

If Keane really has texted to apologise I don't see why he needed to.

Writers who were not present, have since filled many column inches with shameful attacks on the man, who they must see as fair game because he has a reputation, for comments which were clearly not insulting.

Success can be measured in different ways. He regards getting Sunderland into the Premier League and then staying in the top flight for a whole year, and building the foundations that could see them stay up another, as doing 'okay but just okay'.

Many other managers would love to have that on their CV, indeed that one thing he has done in management was probably enough to convince Marcus Evans he was the man to take Town forward, compounded no doubt by his 'interview' technique.

For many coaches and managers even being a Premier League boss would be a success of sorts.

When Phil Parkinson took Colchester United into the Championship and kept them there for a year, finishing higher than Ipswich, that was hailed a success and the promotions of Darren Ferguson at Peterborough and Andy Scott at Brentford will also be seen as great achievements, while if Geraint Williams prevents Leyton Orient being relegated it will be job done. It is all relative and in Keane's world being successful means winning trophies.

He comes from a background where the two main managers who have influenced him have each won two European Cups. Martin O'Neil, his boss at Celtic also won a couple as a player.

Keane is accustomed to lifting silverware, even if he missed Manchester United's Champions' League final triumph in Barcelona through suspension after playing a huge part in getting them there in the first place.

That is the level he is at and so when he says the 'class of '94' have yet to be successful you can understand the context he means it.

So when he takes Ipswich Town into the Premier League you know it would be just the first step. The second would be to consolidate, the third to challenge for Europe, the fourth to break into the top four and win something.

If Keane does that then he can rightly be called a success on par with Brian Clough who did it at Nottingham Forest, and retained the trophy.

It could be that Keane uses Town as a stepping stone and if he makes his mark then he could be taken on by one of the big four, and let's face it that one will only be Manchester United.

There he would have the challenge and opportunity of chasing Sir Alex Ferguson's magnificent tally.

First, though, he has to do it at Town and in the knowledge that there are plenty who are waiting for him to fail.

But winners don't worry about that. They know tough times come to an end. Tough guys don't stop... they just keep going.

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