Football: Two-Week Course That Rekindled Passion of Roy Keane ; KEANE MOVES INTO MANAGEMENT Football's Most Feared Sergeant Major Revealed His Studious Side While Earning His Management Stripes at the FA's School at Lilleshall
reports, Phil Shaw, The Independent (London, England)
As he barks instructions to the Sunderland players on his managerial debut tomorrow, Roy Keane will bring years of experience in confronting hostile opponents in seething stadiums to the task of beating Derby County. But he will probably draw more on knowledge absorbed in the two weeks he spent this summer in the tranquillity of rural Shropshire.
Amid the conjecture as to what kind of "gaffer" the 35-year-old former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland captain might prove to be, one school of thought characterised him as little more than a scourge of slackers. As a novice to the profession, the theory went, his role would be that of a figurehead to attract signings and sponsors, with the nuances of tactics and technique delegated to better qualified aides.
Keane, however, is too astute to imagine that he could manage by reputation, charisma or, indeed, chequebook alone. During his first close season as an ex-player, three days before Mall Quinn completed his takeover at the Stadium of Light, he headed for the National Sports Centre in leafy Lilleshall to equip himself for precisely the problems Sunderland now face.
There he would take the first part of his Advanced Coaching Licence under the guidance of the Football Association's director of courses, John Peacock, a 50-year-old Yorkshireman who also manages the England Under-17 side.
For a fortnight, Keane's world was a residential course, somewhere between Stafford and Shrewsbury, headed by a former Scunthorpe defender, with days taken up by seminars, tutorials, written work and classes on the training ground.
Not a picture that fits the stereotype a someone who once trod on the Porto goalkeeper and elbowed a former Ireland teammate, at Sunderland of all places. At his unveiling on Wearside, he admitted that he had sometimes "crossed that white line".
Yet at the same press conference, when Keane was asked why he had crossed the line into management, the eyes lit up and the reply alluded to the course led by Peacock. "I met some great people," he said. "I thought, 'This is what I want to do'."
Far from being a bored ex-player's whim, his interest in organising teams is long-standing' he had already gained the qualifications at the level below the A Licence. It is also a natural progression. His 2002 autobiography revealed that he set great store by the maxim: "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail."
By a country mile, a concept with which Lilleshall's long drives acquaint one thoroughly, Keane was the most high-profile of 43 students who embarked on the A Licence in July. They included a women's international, various youth-academy directors and an assistant manager with one of the last 16 nations in this year's World Cup who is now an international No 1.
Peacock, who also took Bryan Robson and Tony Adams through their A Licence, is bound by a code of confidentiality not to discuss what took place during the weeks in question. Nevertheless he confirms that Keane was "very professional in everything he did", adding: "I'm delighted Roy has got his challenge at Sunderland. He's now managing a very big club and I wish him all the best.
"He has a lot of knowledge from his playing career, but being a great player doesn't necessarily mean you'll become a good manager. …