Matt Butler: Brilliant TV as eye-popping pundit Roy Keane gives Gareth Southgate another good kicking

View From the Sofa: Champions League, ITV

As fish in barrels go, criticising ITV for its football coverage is akin to tackling a sturgeon in a hogshead with a blunderbuss. There's the inordinate amount of advertising. Or the token 15-minute build-up to what was a must-see game, if not quite of the magnitude of Jose Mourinho's ludicrous "the world will stop" hyberbole. Or Clive Tyldesley's beyond self-parody commentary. Or Adrian Chiles, for many, many reasons.

But before Uefa and the FA tout around for another channel to air their wares, it should be remembered that there is one jewel in ITV's crown which should be taken into consideration: Roy Keane, the Father Jack of football punditry.

Keane was at his curmudgeonly best when debating whether Nani should have been sent off during Manchester United's loss to Real Madrid. For the record, Keane believed the referee, Cuneyt Cakir, was right to send off the Portuguese winger. "It was dangerous play," Keane repeatedly harumphed.

But what made Keane's ire even more hilarious was that it was Gareth Southgate who had taken up the opposing opinion. The pair rarely saw eye-to-eye as players – although they did meet foot-to-chest back in 1995 – and they have kept up their mutual antagonism in their roles as pundits.

On Tuesday night Southgate, in the tone of a supply teacher attempting to control a class of 14-year-olds, manfully tried to defend Nani by saying the player wasn't aware of others around him. Keane's eyes bulged. He seemed only just to stop himself from repeating his 2002 World Cup catchphrase of "stick it up your bollocks", before sputtering, in a pitch you suspect his children would tremble in fear at: "Gareth, does he not think there would be other footballers on the pitch? Does he think he has 20 yards to himself? Whether he meant it or not is irrelevant. It was dangerous play."

Keane had the dubious privilege of having in his corner Chiles, who was hopping about behind him like a bully's henchman squealing: "Do him, Keano, do him!" Poor Southgate only had the mild-mannered Lee Dixon to back him up. And when Keane went into full monstering mode, the ex-Arsenal man actually resorted to waving his hands in surrender gestures, stammering: "That's only my opinion."

It was only when Keane started assassinating Nani's character as a player ("He's a quick boy to go down anyway, he's not the bravest player on the planet") that you thought that, as a disgruntled former United employee, he was getting a little too personal. It wasn't exactly incisive. But no matter – it was still great telly.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own