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Keane: The Autobiography

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A far more simplistic writing style than Sir Alex Ferguson's book, but a good, well written book nonetheless. Keane charts the progress of the Utd team as Fergie’s first great team merged into his second and the Class of ’92 (what an irritating brand that is) integrated with the likes of Keane and Schmeichel to form the team that would dominate English football and secure the long-awaited Champions League victory. Elsewhere, there was too much about the Irish national team, which sorry, but no one really cares about. This autobiography tells the story of how Roy Keane relentlessly drove himself towards a simple goal (to be a professional soccer player) and how his uncompromising single mindedness propelled him to the pinnacle of his objective -- captaincy of Manchester United, the 1999 treble season capturing the FA Cup, Premiership and Champions League and countless other team and individual trophies.

Perhaps it would be unfair to expect even this all-star line-up to do so, and besides, anything further would not fit with Keane's desire for a life more ordinary.For all the sweat and glory that preceded it, their lasting focus is, sadly, on the monosyllabic exchanges in an office, each lasting “less than five minutes”, that marked the final act. There is much that is defiant and enjoyable in their respective refusal to take a single step back in the face of the kind of over-managed pettiness that dogs the modern professional sportsman’s life – both men refuse to let the management decide when and where they can see their wives, for example.

He stands up for what he believes and has the ability to tell it like it is, so for me this book was refreshing.The professional athlete that we see on our televisions are as fictitious as any literary character, and thus I can judge Roy Keane as a character; and I’ve always liked characters in books or movies that have contradictions. How many managers would risk their reputation by throwing a nineteen-year-old into the first team, at Anfield? It can be fascinating to see how the same events or relationships are told differently with the benefit of more experience or changed dynamics. During his first season as Sunderland manager, he took the club from twenty-third position in the Football League Championship to win the league and gain promotion to the Premier League. The threat of an explosion is always present, yet those incidents that do occur here – shouting matches and grappling with players, arguments with opposing managers and their staff, even the climax to his United career in Ferguson’s office – are often sanitised by humour and so are difficult to reconcile fully with the fearsome character we know.

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