Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane has come under some criticism for comments made about his players following their 2-1 defeat against Belarus. Ireland have been preparing for this summer’s European Championships, but their performances in recent internationals has left a lot to be desired, and Keane didn’t hold back when asked of his thoughts.
“Well, I wanted to kill some of them last night. I’ve moved on from that,” Keane said, jokingly. They should be counting their blessing that they’ve managed to get on the flight. A reality-check for one or two players who thought they were good players. Sometimes we make excuses for players – ‘they’ve not played much football’ – but they’re still training, you still control the ball, you have to run. You can still physically get into decent shape.”
“You can lack match sharpness, you can forgive a player for that but you’ve got to get yourself in a good state. Be fit. Be as strong as you can. Eat properly. Prepare properly. You’re playing international football. Control the bloody ball. Pass it to you mates and if you lose it, run back and run back like you care. They need to push themselves. That doesn’t come from the coaches,” Keane added.
Keane also signed out winger Aiden Mcgeady, suggesting the experienced midfielder “finds himself lucky to be on the flight.” Ireland’s assistant manager called for more from McGeady but also critiqued that such a request was the story of his career. Ireland manager Martin O’Neill defended the players, and feels Keane’s comments “were on the strong side”, which has led to a clarification from the former Sunderland manager in a recent press conference.
“I’m not going into what I say and don’t say to the players privately. I’ve spoken to a few of the players, not just Aiden, and I’ve done that throughout my career. I’ve no problem in speaking to players, staff members, if I feel I’ve gone overboard. That isn’t an issue for me. I’m not going into any sort of conversations I would have had with individuals or a group of players. That’s private, we move on, we get ready for next week,” Keane said.
Reports suggested his comments may have upset the atmosphere in the training camp, but the national team appear stronger than ever ahead of their long-awaited participation of the European Championships. Ireland are underdogs to progress into the next round, but relished being written by critics, and could well be a surprise package this summer.