Roy Keane retaliates after Trapattoni questions his credentials
ITV pundit moves closer to the edge after Ireland manager suggests he was unsuccessful in his coaching career
IRELAND face Italy tonight in their last game of Euro 2012 but frankly who cares? With the Irish already eliminated from the tournament, of far more interest to the fans is the ongoing barney between two of Irish football's biggest names.
It all started last week when former Ireland captain Roy Keane tore into the men in green following their 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Spain, a defeat that came on the back of a 3-1 reverse to Croatia. He accused the squad of only turning up in Poland for a "sing-song".
Subsequently, Keane suggested the squad lacked ambition and declared that all 11 players involved in the Spanish shambles should be dumped for the game against Italy.
That drew a sharp response from Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, the veteran Italian coach who has guided the country to their first major football tournament in ten years.
Trapattoni's retort began benignly enough, praising the "great success" Keane enjoyed as a player for Ireland, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United. But then the 73-year-old Trapattoni turned his beady eye on Keane's coaching career, wondering out loud if "he has achieved the same results as a coach or manager".
The answer, as Trapattoni well knows, is no. Keane dabbled in management for five years, first with Sunderland, where his most notable achievement was in guiding them into the Premier League, and later with Ipswich, who sacked him after a fruitless 18 months.
The Italian, on the other hand, has won 22 major trophies in four countries in 37 years as a manager. Consequently he had this message for Keane: "He has to think about what he has done as a coach, for f**k's sake."
When word reached Keane on Sunday night of Trapattoni's tirade, the former United captain might have been best advised to let it lie. But that's not the Irishman's way. Instead Keane used his role as a pundit on ITV's Euro 2012 coverage to wade back into the fray.
"I'm surprised," he said when asked about Trapattoni's comments. "I never criticised the manager. I said the players need to change their mentality and the supporters. So for the manager to come out and have a dig at me, I understand he's going to come out and defend his players but to come out with all that nonsense about what I've done as a manager?"
Pressed on his managerial achievements Keane replied: "I did okay at Sunderland. Okay, it didn't work out at Ipswich, I'm still quite young, hopefully there's a chance I'll get back into management."
And Keane had a message of his own for Trapattoni. "Just because he's had major success doesn't mean he shouldn't be criticised," he stormed. "If Brian Kerr or Steve Staunton were the manager of Ireland and they put on that performance, they'd be heavily criticised. But for some reason, Trapattoni doesn't feel he needs to be criticised."
The Irish nation may be hoping for a win in Poznan tonight but viewers of ITV will be praying Italy win, and win well. It may just tip Keane over the edge.