Pies may be in the minority here, but we’d rather dismantle and eat every component part of a shipping container than ever have to entertain the prospect of listening to the thoughts and opinions of Richard Keys and Andy Gray on any subject – let alone association football.
Still, TalkSPORT continue to afford the formerly-disgraced gruesome twosome an hour or several each week to rake over the issues, pertinent or otherwise.
Indeed, this weekend saw Jason McAteer invited to the studio to discuss, at Keys’ prompting, Roy Keane’s tenuous grip on the Republic of Ireland assistant manager job and, moreover, whether or not the 47-year-old was a genuinely great player in his day.
The short answer immediately available to anybody with even a rudimentary understanding of the game is “yes”, but that didn’t stop our intrepid panel from mauling and mangling things for a full four minutes, non-stop.
Masochists might be keen to know that Football365 have the entire transcript, but here-under are some of the best/worst rallies:
McAteer kicked off by positing that the Keane situation is “turning sour”, before asserting that the former Manchester United midfielder is “frustrated” as the current Ireland squad don’t possess the quality he had as a player and therefore can’t live up to his expectations.
Gray parroted the sentiment almost verbatim, agreeing that a number of great players haven’t been able to naturally translate their ability into being a coach for that very reason.
This is the point that Keys came wading into the equation, providing an excellent debate point for his allies to ruminate on.
Yeah, but when you say ‘great players’, was Roy a ‘great’ player? In the sense of…I’m talking of a Hoddle, or a creative type. Those kind of players are frustrated by lesser individuals.
McAteer responds by saying that, despite his initial reservations, yes, of course Keane was a great player – something the former soon realised for himself after seeing how good the latter was up close while playing alongside each other for Ireland.
Yeah, I get what you’re saying. You answered my earlier question so eloquently, so maybe you can this one: What I’m saying is, the phrase ‘water carrier’, no. He was much more than that. He was a magnificent captain and leader. But was he a top, top player, conductor, orchestrator?
Gray chimes in, agreeing that, while not a ‘Glenn Hoddle type’ – there are different positions and roles on a football pitch, after all – Keane’s input and influence was certainly critical in United’s success during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
I need you to help me understand what I’m trying to get at. Yes, he was a great player, yes, he was a wonderful leader. But he wasn’t a magician.
So the argument was, top players: Bobby Charlton, really struggled to go on and pass on what they knew, they’d get frustrated. But Keane was, he was that, wasn’t he [beats his chest like gorilla].
It goes on, for what feels like hours, with Gray and McAteer stating again and again that, if you look past the ‘lunatic’ image, Keane was a very gifted technical player who led by example just as often as he led through intimidation.
Peter Reid did what Roy Keane does.
Nope. We have no idea either.
Gray then attempts to spell it out, almost wheezing as he tells the Doha wanker one last time that no, Keane wasn’t a Glenn Hoddle, he wasn’t a Gianfranco Zola, he wasn’t an Eden Hazard, he didn’t make a habit of beating four or five defenders and chipping it nonchalantly into the top corner but that, yes, he was a great footballer.
But would you back Reid against him?
I think Souness would have had a pocket in his shorts for him (Keane).
At this point, Gray and McAteer are audibly frayed and summon up the gumption for one last joint-attempt, heralding Keane as “brilliant”, “fantastic”, “underestimated”, a leader of men, a “frightening” teammate and opponent.
After sitting in silence through several minutes of sustained, wearied plaudits, Keys swoops in to chime the death knell:
But was he a top *player*?
Emphasis on the word ‘player’. Fin. How do you even begin to compete with ignorance so deep-rooted?
It’s like a maddening spoof algorithm, specifically designed to break people under interrogation.
Good grief. It’s like Loose Women, but football. https://t.co/68iKCsDnTv
— Who Ate All The Pies (@waatpies) 1 October 2018
And this happens all day, EVERY day. Countless hours and kilowatts of energy dedicated to mundane, superfluous waffle that amounts to absolutely nothing, solves nothing, informs nobody, and fails to change a single mind about anything or anybody.
Honestly, Keys could have just left it at “I need you to help me understand what I’m trying to get at” and the overall upshot would have been the same.
The worst of a truly, truly unexceptional bunch.