OPINION: Roy Keane's lack of emotional intelligence could end his career

Former Manchester United man is struggling to manage his emotion and understand others

BY Ciaran Bradley 18:42 Wednesday 12 September 2018, 18:42 12 Sep 2018

Elon Musk went on record this week about his new company - Neuralink - which aims to effectively connect the brain to the power of the internet. He gave a vision of the future that was one part intriguing to a million parts terrifying, where one man is inextricably linked to the knowledge of all mankind. 

Meanwhile, on WhatsApp, Stephen Ward gave a terrifying glimpse into the recent past, where Harry Arter stared into the abyss, and the abyss stared back.

But while Musk's goal is a seamless interface between man and machine, Roy Keane's is as-yet-unknown. The potential of a Keane interface with Irish football's youth is the reason that the FAI hired him. If he is able to turn off the elements of self-destruction that led to his Manchester United exit, his Sunderland exit, his Ipswich exit (you see where this is going) then one can imagine a proper force of footballing nature.

We hear of the 'football world' so often that it is easy to mistakenly believe it a thing. It is either knowingly referred to by those that are - or were once, its citizens - or sniffily dismissed by those that feel it a cold, unforgiving and unintelligent place.

As fans, we are intrigued by the goings-on, but easily dismiss those in football as dim and somehow immune to the stresses of real life. Our collective reaction when a footballer is considered, measured and intelligent, is one of surprise. Only this week, Burton Albion striker Marvin Sordell spoke movingly about his experience of depression, and how he used poetry to help alleviate the strain on his life:

The poem follows my journey from the training ground to my home. I wanted to personify the emotion while the car represents my body. Inside the car we have myself and a passenger, Denis Prose, representing two sides of my consciousness. The journey starts on as a sunny day but it becomes dark and rainy. There is a shift in emotion and a struggle for power. Denis Prose takes charge. The poem ends in suicide because depression is so powerful it tells you: ‘This is the way out. I’ll take control and everything will be over.’

Sordell's experience is life at its most raw. Most of us do not quite peer over the cliff edge, but we can all relate to life's travails. Despite Bill Shankly's insistence, football is not a matter of life and death. But it does require emotional intelligence. And it is a facet that Keane has seemingly not developed in a professional sense.

We have all heard the epithets that were allegedly thrown in Harry Arter's direction, and it is worth mentioning that Martin O'Neill queries this exact account. However, if this is even close to what happened, then it cannot be excused as the rough and tumble of training ground banter. This is a member of staff, in an elevated position, losing the head and aiming verbal abuse. The result of which, by the management's own admission, is that Arter has recused himself of national duty.

Keane's apparent inability to control his rage tears within and without. He does not appear to have the temperament to manage a modern football outfit. Make no mistake - this is not the result of modern football culture, where the appearance is of vanity and self-interest. This existed long before he left the playing side - indeed, it helped make him the totem that he was. But if he has any designs on functioning within football, then Keane owes it to himself to address his apparent lack of emotional intelligence and his rage.

Liam Brady appeared with Eamon Dunphy's podcast to discuss the situation, and said that the aspects of Keane's book that rang true were that '[he doesn't] have any friends in the game' and '[he doesn't] associate [himself] with other players'.

This is not due to a lack of wit, or IQ. But his EQ is wilfully lacking, and the future for Irish football looks destined to be pockmarked with similar incidents if we stay the course.

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