Keane points finger at culture of rampant egos

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The Independent Football

Roy Keane surveyed the English landscape post-Croatia yesterday and saw rampant egomania as the key character fault among Steve McClaren's beaten squad. It may seem somewhat contradictory for Keane to then nominate the far from bashful Jose Mourinho as the best candidate to succeed McClaren. But Keane's logic was: "He would stroke the egos, he had to at Chelsea.

"Mourinho would do well, probably," Keane said when offered his opinion.

Why? "He has a big ego," Keane joked. "No, he's a bloody good manager, he could handle the media, the egos. He would take it away from the players. He is a clever man – the way he dressed – a cute man. I could see him in that role.

"But maybe they want an Englishman. There's good coaches out there – Big Sam [Allardyce], Martin [O'Neill] – I know he is from the North [of Ireland]."

Keane demurred, however, at the mention of Alan Shearer, one of his great rivals as a player. Keane said that the example of a former player with no managerial experience taking on their country had worked in Germany with Jürgen Klinsmann but not in the Republic of Ireland with Steve Staunton.

"The England job is massive," Keane said. "It's happened in Ireland and Germany but the England job is bigger than them. I don't think he [Shearer] has done all his badges. Experience would be important."

Keane did not nominate Sir Alex Ferguson but suggested the Manchester United manager is the sort of man who would not tolerate the egomania Keane sees as diminishing the England squad's collective spirit. Keane did not use Germany last summer as an example yesterday but he has already derided the WAG culture that surrounded England at the last World Cup finals.

"Egos," he said when identifying the principal problem with England, "Massive egos, massive, a lot of them. If you ask them they'd say no, but you look at what they're doing and they have people around them who are just false, hangers-on everywhere.

"It's in front of you, whether it be magazines, photo-shoots, sponsorship deals. That's all well and good but when it interferes in your football, you are in trouble. I have voiced that throughout my career, even at United, towards the end. A manager, a captain, you have to draw the line somewhere – 'it's affecting the team.'

"I've been a manager two minutes so it's dangerous for me to say I can sort out English football, because I can't. But there's a fine line between ego and confidence – I mean the big heads who are side-tracked by stuff away from football. Listen, we know which players we're talking about, we all know their lifestyles and, if it is affecting their football, there is something wrong.

"I could write down eight England players, we all could, I could do 20. Even if England had qualified I would be saying there's a problem with the egos. Any England manager will face that, but that's a manager's job, to manage. That's why I won't take the job."

Again, without naming names, Keane referred to post-international discussions at Old Trafford during his playing days and within it there may be an explanation as to why Paul Scholes no longer represents England.

"At United I'd speak to lads with England and they'd tell me what was going on and I was scratching my head, I couldn't believe it," Keane said.

"For the manager to let two or three players, whoever it might be... I just wouldn't select them if they were affecting the balance of the team and the bond between the players. I wouldn't select him, I wouldn't care if he was the best striker or the best defender or best goalkeeper. The really strong managers would do that, the Alex Fergusons would do that."

But Keane included himself in talking of "the modern player". "Money does turn your head, if you are 22 years of age and getting £40,000 a week. I look back and I went down that road. You can have one hundred cars, but if your hunger goes you're in big, big trouble."

He then asked the rare question: "Who was the last player to use public transport?"