The daily newspapers had hardly been bundled onto shelves around the country on Wednesday morning when word arrived that Peter Schmeichel wouldn’t talk about Roy Keane when he arrived in Dublin yesterday.
In town for a Carlsberg promotion, the great Dane’s agent had apparently taken note of the Republic of Ireland assistant manager’s assertion this week that he would have “fuck all” to say to his former Manchester United colleague if they were to meet.
That and Keane’s tongue-in-cheek reference to the brawl between the pair 20 years ago when the goalkeeper was supposedly left with a black eye.
And, given his reluctance to engage on it yesterday, an ego that is still somewhat bruised.
The man from RTÉ did his best to go for an early winner when he broached the subject in the first of a series of media engagements but Schmeichel, so well-practised in the art of defence, batted away the attempt with little difficulty.
Next up were the print boys.
Strength in numbers, you may think, but the result can sometimes be a collective paralysis.
Then, Schmeichel left himself exposed with a point about the number of Irish and Danish players with lower clubs who may freeze on the big stage this week.
A chink of light. Enough for a long shot.
So, Peter, does the presence of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane mitigate that for Ireland this week given the fact that both of them have been there and done that by winning European Cups and played in World Cups?
“Absolutely, yeah. The more experience, the more you know about the game ... the better you can prepare your players and the more you can put their minds to it. I think that really is important. The more talented managers have been in that situation.
“I go back to Sir Alex’s days. Sir Alex has played so many games, probably not as a player, but as a manager and he has faced so many crucial games. So his experience was just incredible.
“When we got to the big games, sometimes he’d give a team-talk that would only be two minutes.
“You thought, ‘are you kidding?’ He’d come in, give the team, ‘ok, don’t do blah blah blah, here’s the set pieces, have a good game’ and you were like ‘what?’
“Then the next week you play the team that is rock bottom and the team talk is 40 minutes long. But that’s the experience. You know your players and you know how they react.
“Those two, the experience they’ve got, that would help them so much.”
Encouraging. Time to follow up for the rebound.
You saw the type of player and the type of leader Keane was in the dressing-room when you played with him at Manchester United. Are you any way surprised that he is an assistant manager these days?
“I have absolutely no answer to that because why would I be surprised? I’m surprised he is employed by the FAI, I am. Maybe they kissed and made up. I don’t know.”
We’ll call it a draw.
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