Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roy Keane gives his first interview since leaving Sunderland

ROY KEANE has delivered a snarling, shameful rant in which he JOKES about heart-attack victim Clive Clarke.

Former Sunderland defender Clarke nearly died after collapsing during a game but Keane admits he merely dismissed the tragedy.

In his first interview since walking out on Sunderland, Irish superstar Keane also:

->BLAMES the Black Cats’ billionaire owner Ellis Short for forcing him out of the club.
->ACCUSES his players of being greedy and “taking the p***”.
->ADMITS he signed players he didn’t rate.
->CLAIMS striker Dwight Yorke asked to miss a game because of business.
->But it is Keane’s attack on Clarke which is most shocking.

Clarke was forced to quit football after suffering a massive heart attack during a Carling Cup tie against Nottingham Forest in August 2007 while on loan at Leicester.

The left-back collapsed unconscious in the changing room at half-time following TWO heart failures. His heart stopped beating for FOUR minutes and his life was only saved by desperate paramedics.

He was then rushed to hospital in Nottingham where he spent 10 days recovering after being fitted with a pacemaker.

Clarke, 29, left Sunderland on medical grounds 12 months ago and has not played since.

But Keane shows not an ounce of sympathy towards his fellow Irishman, recalling: “On a night we got beaten in the cup by Luton, the staff came in and said, ‘Clive Clarke has had a heart attack at Leicester’.

“I said, ‘Is he OK? I’m shocked they found one, you could never tell by the way he plays’.

“Clarke later goes and does a piece in some newspaper telling the world that I have lost the dressing room. How does he know? He wasn’t there! Clown.”

But Keane’s bitter attack on Clarke doesn’t stop there. He added: “We went back to Stoke and Clive had been there as a player. I swear he actually thought he was Stanley Matthews coming back to them.

"He was kissing everybody. He got back on the bus with presents for his baby, delighted with himself.”

Keane is no stranger to tirades. He was fined a record £150,000 by the FA in October 2002 after confessing in his book he deliberately tried to injure Manchester City’s Alf Inge Haaland in a tackle that wrecked his knee.

And the 37-year-old continued his latest blast by giving Sunderland’s Texan owner Short both barrels. Short took advantage of a share issue to raise more than £30m and make him the largest single stakeholder last September. But a phone call from Short triggered Keane’s decision to quit on December 4.

Keane, replaced by assistant Ricky Sbragia, insists he was plagued with questions over his refusal to move to the area and the days he missed training.

In an interview in the Irish Times, he declared: “When I became a manager, Niall Quinn became a chairman. I always believed we were working together, not one working for the other. It worked well, I couldn’t have faked that.

“The club’s owners — the Drumaville consortium — were spot on and it worked. I was more comfortable with Drumaville. I never saw them after matches but they stuck to what agreement we had. They’d fly in, watch the games and get a flight back home to Ireland.

OWNER - American Ellis Short
“With Short, Niall and I had sat down with him a couple of times and I went to London to meet him twice. I thought, hmm, the dynamics are changing here. He said he had read my book.

"And I felt he was thinking from the start that I wasn’t for him. He knew this wasn’t going to be a long-term relationship.”

It was Keane’s reluctance to take Short’s phone calls after a 4-1 defeat by Bolton that was the final straw. When he did return the call, a parting of the ways was inevitable.

Keane added: “It started with a demand to know where I had been the previous day, he wanted me available at all times.

“It was only the second day in my career as a manager that I had ignored calls. It was disappointment. Same as after the Everton game when we lost 7-1.

“Then there were accusations about how often I came in, about moving my family to Sunderland. And it was the tone. I couldn’t give my heart and soul with this fella on my shoulder.

“So I rang my lawyer Michael Kennedy and said, ‘Michael, speak with whoever you have to. I’m done with Sunderland’.”

Keane was also done with players he signed simply to make up the numbers as Sunderland battled for Premier League survival.

And he was done with watching them “take the p***” out of the club by thinking of little else but money.

He said: “I had one player asking who else I was signing. I should have told him there and then to get out of my office. But I signed him. We needed bodies.

“He got a contract for too much. You learn. If the word about a player is he is bad news, well, then he will be bad news.

“But when we were promoted from the Championship we had 13 or 14 players starting in the Premier League.

“You’ll sign anybody who will play. I would be giving contracts to players I didn’t rate that highly. I needed the bodies!”

Keane’s decision to bring in former Manchester United team-mate Dwight Yorke surprised many. And Keane accused him of using international trips to Trinidad and Tobago as a chance to take extra time off.

Keane claimed: “One day I get Yorkie texting me from an international game asking can he miss a league match the following week because he has business to take care of. I said, ‘No’!”

Keane also reveals how one player was upset at being dropped not because he was missing a chance to shine but because of the appearance bonus.

Keane added: “He’s on £25,000 or £35,000 a week and he is upset, not about missing out, but about the appearance cheque. Jesus!”

But Keane dismisses the idea he was too strict.

He said: “I rolled with things. I had the police come to the training pitch and had to go off with them for one of the players. Christmas parties etc, things got out of hand and I sorted it.

“Three players were caught on video one night with a girl. I had to go and sort it out.

“I wanted one to play the next game. We needed him. Niall and the board overruled me and I took their opinion on board.” But he does believe his coaching staff undermined him at times by being too soft with players when he was not around.

He insisted: “On the days when I was there I would step in and pep things up but sometimes afterwards I would think the staff should really be catching this.

“In an ideal world, if a player comes to complain to a staff member, and they do because footballers can be moody b******s, you want the staff member saying, ‘Look, keep your head down, shut up and get on with it in training’. You can’t be saying, ‘I’d have you in my team’.”

Despite all the frustration and pent-up anger, Keane does intend to make his comeback soon. He said: “Alex Ferguson comes out and says, ‘You never know what he is going to do next.’

“What did he think I was going to do? Go backpacking around Mexico? I have five kids. Football is in my blood, I’d just had enough at Sunderland. Things had changed. End of bloody story.”

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