Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Alas, Poor Roy, I Knew Him Well

It is a testament to the magnitude of the footballing empire created by Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford that the current crumbling of the edifice is generating such a tremendous cacophony.

The latest pillar to tumble was the result of Roy Keane's censored 'rant' on MUTV following United's capitulation and focused on a common recipient of the captain's ire- the failures and seeming indifference of his floundering colleagues.

Roy Keane is the single most 'challenging' footballer of our times. No one club player can be said to have so driven an era of success, in the modern era at least, and few can have been so completely the embodiment of their manager's will on the field.

But Roy Keane's time in football will come to be seen as the closest sporting embodiment of Shakespearean tragedy. The vaulting ambition is obvious, so too the glorious spoils of battle, with his numerous Premiership and other domestic baubles the fitting reward for his ability.

The fascination with his career rests just as centrally, however, with the dark days- and how his very strengths became his weaknesses. The aggression that got him that booking in the European Cup semi-final in 1999, which in turn drove his greatest performance, but subsequently then resulted the hollowness he experienced as he missed the final and resulted in his last years being an increasingly forlorn pursuit of a Champions League medal by right.

Then there is the unsurpassed perfectionism which helped generate the debacle in Saipan in 2002 and denied him potentially his greatest stage, and which lies beneath the current thrashing against the mediocrity at Old Trafford; indeed, which is coming to appear like the violent death throes of his career.

The controversy engendered by his latest outburst centres on his explicitness in naming the players whose failures are evident, but who tend to be saved from proper criticism due to the cosy cartel of ex-professionals and sycophants within the English football media.

I have generally been of the opinion that the woes of a football club can be traced from the top, due to either boardroom or managerial incompetence. It has been rightly documented recently as to how Alex Ferguson has allowed slip the eminence he once enjoyed, and how the club itself has fallen into its current state as a ginormous item of collateral. However, when a player who earns £120,000 per week, in excess of even the sums earned by blue chip executives, is subject at last to genuine accountabilty from within his organisation, any outrage at such remarks is pointless.

The moral reprehensiblity of footballers wages is a familiar subject, but there is a special relevance when it comes to Rio Ferdinand. The obscenity of the delay in signing his current contract, as he bartered for an extra £10,000 a week is thrown now into sharp relief by his recent performances, which have made his customary loucheness on the field appear more like he simply cannot be arsed.

Fair cop, Roy. No tears will be shed outside of those of a red hue for their demise, and Keane is obviously cognisant of the end.

All credit to him for taking a few out on the way down.


Anonymous Alan S said...

and yet, bizarre upon bizarre, his rant seems to have had exactly the kind of effect that all the pundits have been saying it wouldn't. amazing. according to the papers, even Fergie is giving him the credit for this one. who would have thought that United would battle to a win over the Hairdressers, despite doing their level best to throw it away?

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