Tag Archives: sideshow

Michael Appleton settled at Blackburn Rovers

He's the only manager to have been in charge of three different teams in the FA Cup in the same season… but stability is the key for roving Blackburn boss Appleton

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:17 GMT, 15 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:50 GMT, 16 February 2013

In the car park at Blackburn’s fabulous training complex, a white painter and decorator’s van from Clitheroe is occupying the space of global adviser Shebby Singh.

‘I’m not sure what Shebby’s doing at the moment, but if he’s global advising he’s not advising me,’ admitted Blackburn’s new manager Michael Appleton. ‘I’ve not had any contact from Shebby since I’ve been here. He knows my number, he knows where I am.’

Appleton is already making his mark, a forward-thinking manager with ambitions to reach the highest level with Rovers. The interference from above, the comical sideshow that turned Blackburn into a laughing stock before he arrived on January 11, is no longer an issue.

Shake on it: Michael Appleton is building bridges at Blackburn

Shake on it: Michael Appleton is building bridges at Blackburn

He answers to Derek Shaw, Blackburn’s managing director, as the pair stabilise the club after a chaotic couple of years under Venky’s. They feel like a football club again, aiming for the Championship play-offs and proudly travelling south on Saturday for an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Arsenal.

When Appleton, 37, took charge of Blackburn against Derby in round four, he unwittingly became the subject of a pub-quiz question. ‘That’s right — I’m the only manager to have been in charge of three different teams in the FA Cup in the same season,’ he said.

He began the season with Portsmouth in League One, throwing together a team each week as the financial excesses of the previous regime continued to bite. Then it was on to Blackpool, replacing Ian Holloway until he left for Rovers after just 65 days.

New challenge: Michael Appleton made Blackburn his third club this season

New challenge: Michael Appleton made Blackburn his third club this season

He wasn’t aware of the financial restrictions under Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston until he began.

‘Karl admits he runs the club a certain way,’ said Appleton. ‘It was a slightly more attractive opportunity than at Pompey.

Next up: Appleton joined Blackpool

Next up: Appleton joined Blackpool

‘I wouldn’t have left Blackpool if I was completely happy, or felt I could take the club to the next level and keep it there. The club is certainly day to day. You can’t argue in a way, because Karl can say it’s been successful like that. We argued constantly, but Karl quite liked that. There was a mutual respect. We told each other what we thought, even if it was about each other, but it became a frustration.

‘I can see the talent they’ve got in the squad, the potential at the club, and the first XI is as good as any in the division. But with that you need the right infrastructure, training ground and facilities, and for things to be done in the right way so the players feel loved.’

Blackburn have the infrastructure and Appleton has had an impact. There is a feel-good factor again, a genuine buzz. They are six points off sixth in the Championship.

Appleton added: ‘I had to build bridges between the management and above, with the fans and the owners.There wasn’t a lot of stability: we had 12 people wanting to play the No 10 role. It’s a difficult job, but I didn’t know when an opportunity to take over a club as big would come along again.

‘Look at the facilities. They’re first class — it’s a nice place to work — and what you’d expect of a club who have competed for so long in the Premier League. We’ve steadied the ship, tried to be a lot more solid, and we have a goalscoring machine in Jordan Rhodes who can nick a win for us at any time.’

Rhodes has scored 20 since his 8million move from Huddersfield at the start of the season and, like the rest of the squad, is responding to Appleton’s influence. The manager said: ‘All I want now is stability. I’d love to put my stamp on the football club.

Goal machine: Jordan Rhodes has been in fine form for Blackburn

Goal machine: Jordan Rhodes has been in fine form for Blackburn

‘The frustration at Portsmouth was that no one saw what we were trying to do behind the scenes. I found it difficult to do at Blackpool, which is why I’m here. I’d love to be at Blackburn long enough for people to see the work we’re putting in. As difficult as the job is going to be, I didn’t expect it to come so quickly.’

As they head to Arsenal on a five-match unbeaten run, things are already happening fast for Appleton.

David Luiz"s hair – what has happened to it?

So, was it still Sideshow Bob or Homer Simpson Luiz returns to Chelsea duty after intriguing hair cut pictures

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

16:47 GMT, 11 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:58 GMT, 11 January 2013

They were the teaser pictures that have kept us guessing all day – a pile of curly locks lopped off and lying on a barber's floor, the initials “D.L.” offering an intriguing clue.

Had Chelsea's David Luiz, the 'Sideshow Bob' of the Premier League with his unmistakable bushy hair-do, been shaved into a Homer Simpson

And with the loss of his curls, had Chelsea's strength, like Samson's in the famous tale, been given a brutal short, back and sides

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Luiz's mother posted these picture of what appear to be the Chelsea defender's shaved hair on Thursday night...

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Luiz's mother posted these picture of what appear to be the Chelsea defender's shaved hair on Thursday night…

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Luiz mother posted these picture of what appear to be the Chelsea defender's shaved hair on Thursday night

Thankfully for Luiz fans, it appears not.

The defender-turned-midfielder was in
training today at Cobham with his trademark hair intact – just a little
shorter than it used to be.

Just a trim: ...but as these pictures from today's training session at Cobham show, Luiz has just had a little bit off on top

Just a trim: …but as these pictures from today's training session at Cobham show, Luiz has just had a little bit off on top

Who's this Despite the minor change, Rafa Benitez still looked a little confused

Who's this Despite the minor change, Rafa Benitez still looked a little confused

The original: Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons

The original: Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons

In a season where one calamity has
followed another at Stamford Bridge, Luiz's conversion from an
error-prone centre back to a commanding presence in midfield has been a
rare shining light for Chelsea.

But as happy as he might be in his new
role, it seemed Luiz might have been ready for a change when his mum
posted the images on Twitter after the calamitous 2-0 Capital One
Cup semi-final first leg loss to Swansea on Tuesday.

However, as today's training pics prove, things haven't got that drastic for Chelsea yet.

Hair-raising: How Luiz normally looks, with his trademark curly locks

Hair-raising: How Luiz normally looks, with his trademark curly locks

Hair-raising: Luiz is famed for his curly locks

Real Madrid take on Real Sociedad in La Liga

Mission impossible Madrid face daunting challenge to close 16-POINT gap on rivals Barcelona

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

13:07 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:33 GMT, 5 January 2013

Real Madrid will start what many believe to be mission impossible when the Primera Division restarts for them tomorrow.

Jose Mourinho's side take on Real Sociedad with the gap between them and leaders Barcelona standing at 16 points.

For even the most ardent Madrid fan, a successful title defence would appear to be impossible, with the Champions League now the primary focus.

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

According to defender Alvaro Arbeloa, though, they just have to carry on as normal.

'Real Sociedad are in their best form and it is going to be a difficult match, but we will go into it with desire and belief.

'I just want to win all of our matches from now until the end of the season.'

One sideshow will be who Mourinho starts in goal. There was uproar before Christmas when the Portuguese opted to sit out Iker Casillas and go with Antonio Adam playing in the loss to Malaga.

'The fans will support Real Madrid because they are fans of Real Madrid and not just of Casillas,' said Arbeloa, trying to play down any possible rows.

'It is important that they support the players, but also that they support the team. Whoever plays will have the support of his team-mates.'

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

The lure of a third Champions League title is thought to be driving Mourinho on this season, while the Copa del Rey still remains an option.

Arbeloa does not look at it that way, however, and wants every game to be treated the same.

'If this team wants to win trophies, it is impossible to do that without competing and giving everything in La Liga, and so it is difficult to give everything in the Copa,' he said.

'You cannot pick one day to play well and relax on other days.

'I would just aim to win all the matches. It could be that the Champions League is an easier objective than La Liga, but we are not a team that goes onto the pitch without giving our all every weekend and then does in the Champions League.

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

'We have to face all the challenges in our path and to do that you have to win in all the competitions.'

Sociedad head to the capital upwardly mobile. They are seventh in the table and have been producing some eye-catching performances under Philippe Montanier.

Some have backed them to spring a surprise and, although he will not call this a chance, Sociedad midfielder David Zurutuza does acknowledge there have been worse times to play Madrid.

'I don't think there is any good moment to visit the Bernabeu, but yes, if I had to choose a time it would be now, because they are missing important players,' he said.

David Price would beat Tyson Fury – Thomas Stalker

Price beat Fury before and I'd back him to do it again before taking on the Klitschkos

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 12 December 2012

Thomas Stalker captained the Team GB boxing squad at the London Olympics and reached the quarter-finals in the light-welterweight division.

Here, in his first column for MailOnline, he discusses the latest news from the ring and his own future in boxing.

Talking point: Thomas Stalker at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield where Team GB boxers are based

Talking point: Thomas Stalker at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield where Team GB boxers are based

Tyson Fury has been slagging off David Price on Twitter.

I
can understand Tyson building the proposed fight up to put bums on
seats and earn a big pay day but David Price will beat him and beat him
well.

I fought on the same
card when Pricey beat him last time. There was a great atmosphere. It
was in the ABA North West Counties finals in Wythenshawe Forum,
Manchester in 2006 and the place was ram packed to the rafters.

Repeat performance: Heavyweight David Price (right) hopes to face rival Tyson Fury

Repeat performance: Heavyweight David Price (right) hopes to face rival Tyson Fury

There
were two big crews of fans from Liverpool and Manchester and I think it
was almost as tasty outside the ring as in. Pricey totally outboxed
Tyson that night and he will do the same. He may be 6ft 8ins tall but
Pricey moves like a middleweight, he's lean and he's got great
technique. Tyson is good but I think Pricey is the best equipped to take
on the Klitschkos if they hang around.

Flintoff deserves respect… but should quit while he's ahead

Freddie Flintoff has been getting some stick off the boxing fraternity.

He's been called a sideshow and I know many fighters thought Freddie's fight with Richard Dawson would be disrespectful to the sport but I disagree. I've been watching Freddie's documentaries on his training and build-up and for me he's been good for boxing.

I don't agree with him grabbing the headlines as if he was top of the bill at Manchester but I suppose with the hype that was inevitable.

Respect: Freddie Flintoff won on his professional boxing debut in Manchester last month

Respect: Freddie Flintoff won on his professional boxing debut in Manchester last month

To me, he took it seriously. He showed heart and courage to take that on. It was like Ricky Hatton's fight the other week, the end result wasn't the important factor. Ricky wanted to answer questions about himself in the ring and Freddie did the same. And you have to say he did well.

Everyone knows he's not going to be a contender for the world heavyweight champion, it was a one-off and he and Barry McGuigan spoke sensibly about it afterwards saying 'That's it now. Finished'. But I was impressed. He showed no fear and he handled his nerves on the day of the fight really well. I know how difficult that is. Now he has seen how hard it is to get into that ring.

You'll always have fans in the street thinking they can do it but until you punch the bags, step in to take that first punch, do that first spar or do the training, you don't realise how hard this game is.

It's a tough business and I think now Freddie should just keep up his training but retire.

Decision time

I've got a big decision to make over the next few weeks.

I have offers to turn professional and have held talks with Khan promotions, Matchroom and a couple of others.

If I go it's a big step because it would mean leaving the Great Britain Olympic set-up and that would be a very sad day.

Devastated: Stalker lost at the quarter-final stage of the London Olympics

Devastated: Stalker lost at the quarter-final stage of the London Olympics

I've done everything with this team bar win a medal. The group is like a second family. We train together, eat together, even live together in a flat in Sheffield so these are people I have a great affection for.

If I turn professional I can't have UK Lottery funding any more, I'm on my own. If I stay I have the funding, the lifestyle and the offer of a coaching job once my fighting days are over.

It's a big risk but I know that if I don't turn professional I'll always be asking 'what if' It's something that may haunt me. I want to test myself, see how far I can go and that is where I am leaning.

People may know I was bitterly disappointed not to win a medal in the summer and it still hurts me every day. If I'd won I wouldn't be thinking of turning professional. The nature of the Olympics has meant those who won medals have had doors opened, great commercial offers and I could have used that while also doing TV work. It would have given a regular income and I could have stayed with the GB set-up.

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Whatever happens I will be fighting in February. That's the target whether pro or amateur. It could be in Bulgaria or Hungary or wherever the promoter's bill. I don't know the opponent yet but I have to be ready, that's the business I'm in.

Hopefully, I'll make the right decision in time for Christmas.

One to watch

I saw Hughie Fury who is Tyson's younger cousin fight the other day. He won gold in Armenia in the Youth World Championships as a super heavyweight, beating Narender Berwal from India and that's a great achievement.

The guys from these countries are all improving now and they're tough opponents. Hughie's big but looks a real thinker as well as a hitter and mover. He will be a good bet for gold at Rio or maybe the Olympics after that.

Marouane Fellaini and brother with matching hairstyles

You've copied my hairstyle! Fellaini brothers watch Everton with matching afros

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UPDATED:

08:20 GMT, 30 August 2012

Looking like the before pictures in a hair straightener advert, the Fellaini brothers made a hair raising sight in the stands at Goodison Park on Wednesday night.

The Belgium international has become famous for his curly locks since moving to Merseyside and little did we know his brother is a perfect double.

The pair looked like a 1970s disco
tribute act as they perched in their seats in the stands during the Capital One Cup
clash with Leyton Orient.

Oh, brother! Fellaini with his sibling during the clash at Goodison Park

Oh, brother! Fellaini with his sibling during the clash at Goodison Park

And while the street vendors around the ground do a roaring trade in copycat wigs, there's no mistaking that these siblings are a cut above.

Although that could be David Luiz sitting next to the Everton midfielder. Or Rene Higuita. Or Kevin Keegan. Or Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons.

Maybe they could sign for Barnet one day

Who's who There's very little difference between the brothers

Who's who There's very little difference between the brothers

England team backs Andrew Strauss in Kevin Pietersen affair – Jimmy Anderson

England team are right behind Strauss in Pietersen affair, insists Anderson

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UPDATED:

20:29 GMT, 21 August 2012

Jimmy Anderson says the England team are totally behind Andrew Strauss and will be led by him on the best way to solve the Kevin Pietersen crisis.

The broken relationship between Pietersen and senior players is at the heart of the dispute which has led to the exile of England's marquee star but Anderson, an influential dressing-room figure, insists the players will do what their captain thinks best.

‘The biggest thing is Straussy’s relationship with him,’ said Anderson. ‘That seems to have been what has come under fire. Straussy has got so much respect as captain and we all support his decisions. We will back him to the hilt whatever he and the ECB decide to do.’

Plenty to ponder: England captain Andrew Strauss (centre)

Plenty to ponder: England captain Andrew Strauss (centre)

There has been some concern that a powerful England dressing room may have played a part, however small, in making Pietersen’s position within it untenable. Anderson accepts that more might have been done.

‘There are two sides to every story and maybe we could have done more,’ he said. ‘It is out of our hands. It has been an unwanted and unnecessary sideshow but we can’t say it had an impact in us losing to South Africa.’

Exile: Kevin Pietersen in action for Surrey

Exile: Kevin Pietersen in action for Surrey

Anderson is convinced Strauss will carry on and lead England in their attempt to reclaim the Test crown.

‘Straussy has been pivotal in everything we have achieved,’ said Anderson. ‘More even than people realise. We hope he carries on for a few years.

‘I don’t think he is considering calling it a day. He still loves being in the dressing room and on the field.’

The biggest disappointment for England in their 2-0 defeat is that their bowling was so inferior to South Africa’s.

‘This is a huge wake-up call for this attack,’ said Anderson. ‘We have been outbowled in this series and we have a lot of work to do.’

SIX NATIONS 2012: Le Crunch time

Le Crunch time! Let's unleash the big guns and take Paris by storm

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 9 March 2012

When young, callow England are pitched into the eye of a Parisian storm on Sunday, it will be quite loud enough inside the Stade de France without the off-stage commotion and taxing enough without the presence of a distracting sideshow.

For an occasion such as this, with all its history and fierce rivalry, Le Crunch itself should be the sole focus of attention. But this time there has been a competing issue of grave importance.

No matter how often Stuart Lancaster, the man at the heart of the maelstrom, his fellow coaches and his players reiterate their determination to keep minds on the job, there can be no doubt that the sideshow taking place out of sight will be acting as an untimely diversion.

Ever since the RFU’s new chief executive, Ian Ritchie, confirmed that the timescale for appointing a head coach had been accelerated, the circus has well and truly come to town.

Eyes on the prize: England captain Chris Robshaw

Eyes on the prize: England captain Chris Robshaw

It is an unavoidable back-drop to this game and the next one, against Ireland at Twickenham seven days from now. These matches are viewed as the last chance for Lancaster to make his pitch to stay in charge long-term, although the latter game might come too late to influence the union kingmakers either way. Within days, there may be a boardroom decision which calls a halt to this fleeting overhaul instigated by the interim coach.

If the RFU choose to appoint Nick Mallett, there is no guarantee for many of these players they will be involved in the summer tour of South Africa.

While determined to give the best account of themselves, they have no idea who will pass judgment on their future prospects. They can try to hide away from the swirling speculation, but they will all surely know by now that Jake White was approached by their employers, indicated an interest and promptly withdrew from the running.

Doubt and confusion are not usually the ideal ingredients for assured, commanding performances. Ben Foden, the England full back, made that point on Friday when he said: ‘It would be nice to have that stability at the top so we know what is going on but we are here right now with this promising England side, with a good opportunity to beat France in their own back yard.

Under pressure: Stuart Lancaster pauses for thought at Pennyhill Park

Under pressure: Stuart Lancaster pauses for thought at Pennyhill Park

‘It is tough at the top, it is ruthless
especially when it comes to international rugby, but that is the nature
of the game. Stuart has got us ready as best he can. It is the coach’s
job to get us ready and give us the right tactics and guide us but it is
on us as 22 players to put that into action.

‘The way Stuart has gone about his business has been super. He has added his own personal touches and you can’t ask anything more from him.’

Foden also provided some perspective about the specific motives for the visitors going into this of all games.

First and most recently, France were the nation who dispatched Martin Johnson’s troubled side from the World Cup late last year. The official line is that the memory has been locked away. Not so, according to England’s free-thinking No 15, who admitted it will provide a spur to those who endured the fall from grace in Auckland.

‘That is a little bit in my mind,’ he said. ‘It has to be because my latest memory of playing against France is that game.

‘It is disappointing when you look back at it because we had hopes and promise leading into the Word Cup and France weren’t running the hottest when we faced them and everyone thought they were there for the taking, but we didn’t step up to the mark.’

Tom Palmer (left) and Phil Dowson (right)Tom Palmer (left) and Phil Dowson (right)

The last meeting in Paris was a cause for mixed emotions. Victory and a Grand Slam went to Les Bleus, but for England there was real consolation in the manner of their positive performance after a period of sterile displays.

‘After the whistle there was initial disappointment,’ said Foden. ‘But looking back, it is a fond memory and was a turning point for that England team.’

So much water has passed under the English bridge since that last game against France out in New Zealand that settling old scores is not the principal spur now.

Even without Lancaster having his own pressing need for a win, his team can climb to fourth place in the IRB world rankings if they can conjure an upset on Sunday to leave them in the top-seed zone ahead of the World Cup draw in December.

And of course they remain, at least theoretically, in the mix to retain their championship title, although they will require a favour from France in Cardiff next Saturday to deny Grand Slam-chasing Wales.

Warming up: Charlie Hodgson and Brad Barritt tangle in training

Warming up: Charlie Hodgson and Brad Barritt tangle in training

The hosts are better-placed to snatch
the title, despite last Sunday’s draw at home against Ireland, as they
are masters of their own destiny. While there is plenty at stake for
Lancaster, his French counterpart, Philippe Saint-Andre, will be fuelled
by a private yearning to lower the colours of the country where he
spent so much time developing his coaching credentials.

Spells at Gloucester and Sale gave the former national captain an Anglo-Saxon outlook which means his side are likely to play a structured, territorial game. The selection of Lionel Beauxis at fly-half laid bare the fact that Saint-Andre will not be afraid to lose style marks in order to secure victory via kicking clout.

All the expectation would appear to be resting on French shoulders. They are the top-ranked European nation in fourth, they are unbeaten in 10 championship games at home, they have so much experience and power and their rivals are raw. For England to stand a chance, they must use all of the weapons at their disposal, which has not really happened so far.

Following criticism from Leicester of the national team’s perceived lack of creativity, it would be a fitting riposte if Lancaster’s side can better employ the threat of their back three – Foden, Chris Ashton and David Strettle.

Joker: Owen Farrell has a laugh in training

Joker: Owen Farrell has a laugh in training

After further talk of playing with bold
intent and width and invention, it is so important that those ambitions
come to pass and ideally that England score a first try of the Six
Nations without the need for a charge-down – the catalyst for both
touch-downs to date.

Not only that, their line-out improvement against Wales must be maintained under Geoff Parling’s expert guidance and while it is always wise to expect the unexpected in this particular fixture, the visitors will know they must survive a brutal scrum challenge rather better than they did two years ago.

With the foundations of a solid defence founded on the graft and tackling power of Brad Barritt, the prospect of clean service and tempo from Lee Dickson at scrum-half, and forward momentum over the gainline if Manu Tuilagi and Ben Morgan hit their stride, England are capable of stretching France and preying on their tendency to switch on and off in terms of intensity and precision.

Yet, for all their lingering failings, the French are a potent force at home and they are likely to prevail in a close encounter. What that does for Lancaster and the issue of stability, only time will tell.

FRANCE V ENGLAND.jpg

Rio Ferdinand says a two-footbed tackle is a red card

It's simple! A two-footed tackle should mean a red card, insists Ferdinand

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand does not believe there is any room for argument over the two-footed tackle debate that has erupted this week.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has been left fuming at the perceived inconsistency at two incidents involving his club.

Having failed to overturn a four-match ban for captain Vincent Kompany following his dismissal in last week's Manchester FA Cup derby, Mancini was on the look-out for similar punishments being meted out.

Two-footed: Vincent Kompany was sent off for this challenge on Nani

Two-footed: Vincent Kompany was sent off for this challenge on Nani

So, in feeling that Glen Johnson's tackle on Joleon Lescott during City's Carling Cup defeat to Liverpool on Tuesday was far worse than the challenge from Kompany, Mancini was aghast that the Reds defender did not even concede a free-kick.

It sparked an angry row between Mancini and Steven Gerrard and led to yet more discussion about how the rule book is being interpreted.

Yet Ferdinand is among those who feels the whole sideshow has been totally unnecessary.

Mixed messages: Glen Johnson (right) avoided a red card for this challenge

Mixed messages: Glen Johnson (right) avoided a red card for this challenge

'I don't understand why this debate is still going on,' said the England international.

'It's stated clearly in the rule book, we get told before the season when all the referees go around the different clubs: a two-footed tackle is a red card. It's as simple as that.

'It baffles me that there's any argument or debate around the issue.'

Roy Keane comment: This is one fight the former United captain can"t win

Roy Keane comment: This is one fight the former United captain can”t win

Roy Keane has become a first-rate TV pundit, his forthright comments mirroring the robust and straightforward nature of his play.

His presence in front of the TV cameras, though, still hints at melancholy simply because it’s a place one of the modern game’s truly great players never wanted to be.

When Keane was hustled unceremoniously out of the door at Old Trafford six years ago, we sincerely hoped he would remain central to our sport. So did he.

Outspoken: Roy Keane has become an excellent TV pundit, showing all the traits that made him such a powerful force in the Premier League

Outspoken: Roy Keane has become an excellent TV pundit, showing all the traits that made him such a powerful force in the Premier League

A leader of men and a thinker, Keane looked to be a manager-in-waiting. Football had more to learn from the former United captain. Or so we thought. To see him this season working for ITV is testimony to his failure as a coach and that in itself is very sad.

Keane – more self-aware than many would believe – would perhaps be the first to admit it. He once said he had no wish to be a TV analyst, hinting that he considered the job the last refuge of the desperate. What a shame that he is now part of football”s sideshow. Keane deserves better than a place on the
fringes.

Better together: Ferguson and Keane enjoyed unrivalled success at United

Better together: Ferguson and Keane enjoyed unrivalled success at United

He was – and still is – a man better suited to a place on centre stage. As a player he thrived on confrontation. Never one to back down, he now sneers at the ‘lapdogs’ who bring wine for Ferguson on match day. You can’t ever imagine Keane turning up at Old Trafford via Oddbins.

He claims this week that he identified more with Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough.

‘You can be a great manager, but also a good man,’ he said. That is a premeditated barb, trying to hurt Ferguson. It may or may not work. Whatever the case, he of all people should know that the greatest warriors should perhaps only pick fights they can win.