As you may have heard, all is not rosy inside the Republic of Ireland camp at the moment amid rumours that assistant manager Roy Keane has fallen out (perish the thought) with a group of his own players.
The bickering began in the direct aftermath of last week’s 4-1 defeat against Wales, with Harry Arter sitting out of a training session the following day – a decision taken on the advice of the Ireland team doctor which resulted in the midfielder being called “all the names under the sun” by Keane.
Arter didn’t rise to the bait and instead walked away, but that didn’t stop Jonathan Walters wading in and exchanging a few frank and forthright observations with Martin O’Neill’s right-hand man.
Thanks to Ireland defender Stephen Ward, we now have a fairly reliable account of the slanging match taken from a leaked Whatsapp voice message sent to several other members of the squad that has since been transcribed by the Telegraph:
“So basically lads, Roy was getting on to the lads for not training three days in a row. Jonny (Walters) has got a bad knee so he can’t train all the time.
“They were at the training ground and him and Harry (Arter) were just sitting on the bench, just relaxing and icing themselves and stuff. Roy walked over and was like, ‘Why aren’t you lads training?’ and he blatantly knew why they weren’t training because the manager would have told him and they were like, ‘We can’t do three days in a row’.
“‘What are you guys? Professional footballers? That’s a shambles that is.’ They both didn’t say anything and Roy walked off and came back over again: ‘So when are you going to train, I’m sick of people pulling out with injuries, what the f*** is wrong with ya?’ and the lads were like: ‘Listen, we’ve got problems, we do it at our clubs, we can’t do it.’
Roy said something under his breath about Jonny and walked off.
“Jonny lost his head, jumped off the bench and walked after him, grabbed his arm and said: ‘What’s the story Roy? If you’ve got a problem say it to my face, don’t f*****g walk off’ and he (Keane) was like, ‘I do have a problem, you’re not training, you’re getting soft, it’s no wonder Dyche doesn’t play ya, you’re f*****g always looking for an argument like you are now’ and he was like, ‘No Roy, you are the one trying to start an argument.’
“Apparently they were squaring off to each other and having it off and had to be pulled off each other. All the lads were grabbing Jonny away from him … Johnny was going to kill him.
“Roy brought up something about when they were at Ipswich together, they had like a falling out as well. “You’re threatening me again Jon, like you did at Ipswich’, and Jonny was like: ‘Yeah, are you going to be a shithouse again and send me my fine in the post rather than say it to my face?’
“It blew over for a few days and then they flew out to France and Jonny apparently just text Roy like, ‘Listen Roy, I’m in room whatever, if you wanna come up, you’ve obviously got something on your mind that pisses you off about me because it’s causing tension in the squad, let’s talk it out.’
“Apparently Roy just wrote back: ‘Nah, I’m just here to help players. People like you… stay out of each other’s way. You don’t need to reply to this message.’ And that was that.
“They got back from France and Harry felt his quad in training again. So he wasn’t training. Apparently he was getting treatment in the treatment room and Roy walked in and was like, ‘When are you going to train you f*****g prick?’ And Harry was like, ‘What?’ and he was like: ‘Any chance of you training?’
“He explained the situation again and Roy was going off going: ‘You’re a f*****g prick, you’re a c**t, you don’t even care, you don’t wanna train’, and Harry was just going: ‘Roy, I’m not speaking to you like this. I’m not listening to you. You’re not the manager. You can’t say anything to me.’
“Apparently Roy was going mad getting worse and worse and Harry got up off the treatment bed and was walking back to his room. As he was walking back Roy was shouting down the corridor: ‘You’re a f*****g prick, you’re a c**t you’ve been all your life’ and that was really it lads.
“It didn’t come to blows but basically just Roy losing his head.”
Sounds like Keano bottled it to us, but obviously the more pressing issue is that his tedious, toxic, joyless machismo nonsense is obviously tearing apart yet another team. he can’t seem to comprehend injury, human fallibility, advances in sport medicine and physical care, and everybody else pays for it.
For the record, O’Neill has since attempted to draw a line under the flare-up, admitting that there had been a confrontation while adding that Ward’s account didn’t really tally with the one given to him by Keane.
What an entirely unnecessary palaver.