We're only four sleeps from 2021. As we leave behind this covid-ravaged year for hopefully greener pastures, it's worth expressing appreciation to the people who got us through the year. In football, in a year where supporters were no longer welcome on the terraces and the game sometimes felt like a FIFA simulation, Roy Keane managed to keep things joyful. A younger generation might find Keane's football punditry lacking in analytical rigour, but while the Corkman might be predictable in who he praises and who he heaps scorn upon, he remains one of the few fascinating people who speak about football for a living. Being confrontational and funny are great attributes as a pundit, but it also helps that Keane has values.
The ship may have sailed for Keane as a manager who could emulate Clough or Ferguson, but Keane this year properly established his niche in punditry. In a year when uncomfortable Roy selfies were given their own art gallery and even the Azerbaijanis were interested in a bit of that Keane magic, we thought it would be no harm to look back on some of Roy's moments this year.
Roy Keane: A Year in Review
At 49 years old, Roy remains predictable. Villa surviving relegation like they'd won the World Cup was exactly the thing to trigger Roy.
"They didn't win anything" 😆
Roy Keane was not impressed with the Aston Villa players celebrating their Premier League survival 🤣 pic.twitter.com/0KmIkAdM58
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) July 26, 2020
Is Keane the annoyed pundit an act or truly genuine? Watching back the famous De Gea rant from July, it's clear how emotional Keane was watching the match.
That rant also spawned Roy's second career as a dance instructor.
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) June 23, 2020
One of the more intriguing - and awkward - Premier League punditry moments of 2020 came after Jurgen Klopp joined an MNF broadcast after Keane had the temerity to say Liverpool had been sloppy in phases during their 3-1 win over Arsenal to start the 2020-21 season. Klopp here comes off as thin-skinned, and it was the first of a few awkward engagements between the Liverpool boss and the broadcast media during this odd season.
Keane's analysis can sometimes come across as old school or tribal but there's often truth behind his takes. Keane's criticism of Arteta's Arsenal after they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford also felt eerily prescient when the wheels came for Arsenal over the following weeks. The Gunners are currently 15th in the table.
🗣"Can I ask you one question, how many league games have Arsenal lost this season, all of a sudden Arsenal are the new Bayern Munich do me a favour?" 🤣
Roy Keane & Tim Cahill's debate over if mangers should motivate their players and Arsenal's form @Tim_Cahill pic.twitter.com/5t6kADbPcx
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 1, 2020
The Year in Digs
It was also a year of great Roy Keane digs. Micah Richards was on the receiving end of a few, but this was the best one.
🗣️ Micah Richards: "I burst onto the scene"
🗣️ Roy Keane: "Did you burst onto the scene?"
🗣️ Micah Richards: "I played for England at 18, youngest ever defender to play for England. I would say that's bursting onto the scene!"
Fair play Micah Richards! 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/pDP7A5kfvJ
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) March 8, 2020
Gary Neville is still feeling this one.
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) December 12, 2020
Outside of football, Keane regularly showed his warmth. Roy was brilliant with a young United supporter (and wannabe rugby player) on the Late Late Show in the weeks before lockdown.
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) February 21, 2020
On Comic Relief, Roy revealed he quit smoking before his 12th birthday.
— Dee Walsh (@_tenaciousdee) June 26, 2020
Even in the age of lockdown, Roy has maintained a presence around Cork. In late November, Roy called into Cork Penny Dinners to lend a hand.
Roy Keane dropped in to Cork Penny Dinners yesterday to surprise the volunteers. pic.twitter.com/xdnlAYmkJr
— 96fm Opinion Line (@OpinionLine96) November 27, 2020
Before Christmas, Roy also made a surprise appearance at Dunderrow National School in West Cork in reply to a letter from Noah, a young student there.
Noah in 5th class wrote a letter to Roy Keane a month ago. Today he responded with a surprise visit. An inspiration to all young sports people that you can achieve anything with hard work @guidedogs @PaudieP @irishexaminer @echolivecork @RTEsport @Corktod #legend pic.twitter.com/BlhYfQZ0N0
— Dunderrow National School (@DunderrowNS) December 18, 2020
In an age where footballers and celebrities document every coffee consumed, Keane manages to remain interesting as he spurns so much of the bullshit of contemporary life. He's one of Ireland's national treasures, not that he cares.