By Liam Mackey
If it’s any consolation to Alex Ferguson, he isn’t the only football management legend currently residing in Roy Keane’s crosshairs.
The picture of a stony-faced Keane comprehensively blanking Jose Mourinho’s attempt to shake hands with him and Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert before the final whistle in Chelsea’s recent 3-0 Premier League victory has already become one of the iconic images of the new season.
And yesterday in Dublin, after the public launch of his autobiography, Keane didn’t attempt to hide the full extent of his contempt for Mourinho’s premature approach.
“The game is still going on, it’s disgraceful,” he said. “I’ve seen him doing it to other managers. It is a disgrace. The game is still going on. You wouldn’t do that on a Sunday morning. You would get knocked out.”
Asked — somewhat unnecessarily — if he thought the Chelsea boss had been disrespectful, the Villa assistant manager snapped: “What do you think? That’s a stupid question. Yeah.”
With a number of Manchester-based reporters in Dublin for yesterday’s event, it was probably inevitable that Keane’s already well-ventilated falling out with Ferguson would once again dominate the media exchanges.
Ironically, when Keane at one point spoke about people’s fear of confronting Ferguson he used
precisely the kind of words which many would apply to the Corkman.
“You have to defend yourself,” said Keane. “A lot of people are sitting around here [at the media table] and people are frightened of him. You can’t go against him because you’ll never be allowed speak to him again but, thank God, I don’t have them problems. Why do people let him get away with that? People sit back and are frightened to death of him.
"I think a lot of managers would probably be intimidated by him [too], probably bow to him. A lot of managers are heavily influenced by him, of course. [Roberto] Martinez reckons he was misquoted a few years ago that Ferguson had his disciples. He obviously does.”
Asked about Ferguson’s comment in his book that the hardest part of Keane’s body was his tongue, the latter allowed himself a momentary grin.
“Well...what do you think? (Laughter). I kick pretty hard. I think it was a cheap dig. He was never critical when we were winning trophies and he was getting his new contracts, getting this named after him [and] Sir this.
" He was not pulling me or other players [aside], saying, ‘listen, you need to relax a bit’. That was the game and I appreciate the game. The game finished but it was all the carry-on afterwards.”
Keane admitted he had turned down an invitation to the unveiling of Ferguson’s statue outside Old Trafford and is certain in his own mind that it was not a conciliatory gesture made by his former manager.
“I don’t think he invited me, it was probably his committee or his son or whatever but why would I go to that? That was all power and control. So, what? He comes in and we’re all standing [makes applause gesture] and he’s, ‘I’ve got you where I want you’.”
It’s pointed out to Keane that former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy did attend the event.
“But I’m not Ruud van Nistelrooy.”
But he fell out with Ferguson badly too.
“Not as badly as me.”