Mark Keohane, writing for IOL Sport.
Keane was the hard man of Manchester United and he is the hard man of football’s television analysts.
The sporting world needs more Roy Keanes.
Sports broadcasters love to appoint former players as analysts, but too often the on-field brilliance translates to in-studio boredom.
My god, most could play the game, but they haven’t got a clue when it comes to an engaging analysis.
Keane is the exception and this week he was my sporting highlight of the English Premier League.
His pre-match discussions were more entertaining than the 90 minutes of football that followed.
Keane doesn’t suffer a fool and, earlier in the week, it is exactly how he viewed former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp, who was talking up the virtues of Spurs as a top four team pre their match with Burnley.
Keane called Jose Mourinho’s Spurs an average Premiership team when Redknapp was berating their absence among the league’s top four.
Keane said five Burnley players would get into the Spurs line-up and, outside of Kane and Son, no Spurs player would make any decent team.
Redknapp rejected Keane’s comments and said Spurs were not an ordinary team.
And then the fun began.
Redknapp based his view on Spurs having loads of internationals in their line-up, to which Keane responded: ‘Playing for your country doesn’t make you a good player. If you can trap a ball you can play for your country these days.’
Redknapp went on the defensive, but Keane persisted: ‘Jamie, which players from this Spurs team would get in Liverpool, Man City or Chelsea’s team? You wouldn’t touch any of them, apart from Son and Kane.’
Redknapp was flustered, stumbled over his rehearsed lines and didn’t know how to deal with Keane’s brutal assessments.
The match was never going to be as entertaining.
Keane was equally robust in dismissing presenter David Jones’s assertion on Liverpool’s woes being down to centre back injuries and a lack of confidence.
‘Come on,’ he snapped. ‘We are talking about Liverpool Football Club.
‘We’ve spent the last six months speaking about Liverpool’s problems. And their lack of confidence. Sheffield United have lost 20 games this season … 20 games. I think they have scored 15 goals, so if we are going to spend the next 10-15 minutes saying they are going to be under pressure, worrying about Sheffield United, just focus on the game and get on with it. What about Sheffield United?
‘Where do you think Sheffield United are? Imagine losing 20 games, Liverpool should be rubbing their hands.
‘Listen, if Liverpool are worried about Sheffield United … then their players should retire. At the end of the day, you want to play a team who has lost 20 out of 25. Perfect scenario.’
Keane was all theatre.
He was emphatic in his condemnation of a rehearsed script and he gave me as a viewer an insight into the mentality he expected from top flight players.
Isn’t that why the broadcaster employed him?
Shane Warne, when it comes to cricket, is similar in his analysis. He puts you on the field, explains what he would do as a player or a captain in that situation and takes you to a place only the very best sporting minds have been.
Keane, every week, does that in the Premier League.
He has been accused of being controversial but he isn’t. All he does is speak from the heart and the mind that made him one of football’s finest.
What a privilege to listen to Keane talk just like he played.
What a viewer experience.
What a pity Keane is the exception and not the rule.