World Cup TV View: Roy Keane’s eyes bulge as the topic turns to players switching countries

ITV pundit wasn’t ready to let England feel sorry for themselves without mentioning Grealish and Rice

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has his armband checked, before picking the ball out of his net twice in the shock defeat to Japan. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Day Four and the lying, deceit and hypocrisy around this World Cup continue unabated.

The six-year-old does not know Daddy was plopped on the couch watching football from 10am until shortly before he returned home from school. He does not know the TV was on all day, because midweek the TV does not go on. No, he believes Daddy was working hard. The six-year-old believes all this, of course, for that is what he has been told. Qatar, where will the relentless hoodwinking end?

Still, the TV could have remained on idle for Croatia v Morocco and nobody would have missed much. Nope, Day Four was all about the Germans, who, as it turned out, you could accuse of being somewhat idle themselves.

But before the football, there was the non-football stuff, which at this World Cup has become as omnipresent as the football.


Prior to kick-off, rumours abounded that Germany captain Manuel Neuer was to wear the One Love armband.

Over on RTÉ, Clare MacNamara teed up the possibility to her team of analysts – Didi Hamann, Liam Brady and Stephen Kelly –, all lounging on that massive red couch surely borrowed from the production company behind Big Brother.

Ultimately, Neuer did not wear the armband. But when we returned to the Big Brother house in Montrose at half-time, RTÉ flashed up a photo of the German players in a prematch team shot, hands covering their mouths.

“The host broadcaster decided not to bring us this,” said MacNamara. “They say they were silenced by Fifa.”

We were then shown Neuer having his armband checked by a match official.

“There has been a lot of pressure on these players. I’m sure they are tired of the whole debate as well. They did their statement, that’s fine, I think we should leave it at that now and concentrate on the football,” reasoned Hamann.

But over on ITV, Roy Keane was in no mood to leave it there.

“It’s a gesture and it’s a start, but I think they can still do a lot more. They say they have been silenced. By who?” asked Keane. Presenter Mark Pougatch suggested the German FA, but retracted quickly as Keane steamed forward again.

“The most important people in football are supporters and the players. Use their voice, use their voice. Wear the armband. Leadership is about action, go and do it. Go and do it. Listen, it’s a gesture and it’s a start, but they can do more.”

Anyhow, back to the football – which is becoming one of the most repeated phrases of this World Cup.

Beforehand, Hamann was at pains to express his disappointment that German manager Hansi Flick chose not to bring Mats Hummels to Qatar.

“I think he chose harmony over somebody who maybe says things that shouldn’t be said,” said Hamann.

Roy Keane wasn't the only person to think Japans win over Germany was brilliant to watch. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

MacNamara wondered if Brady reckoned Flick was right to go with harmony. Brady paused, perhaps uncertain who Harmony was, before talking up Hummels.

Over on ITV, Ian Wright and Karen Carney were talking up Germany’s teenage sensation, 19-year-old Jamal Musiala, mostly because he had played with England at underage level.

“It’s a shame from an England perspective that we missed out on a top talent,” stated Carney. Keane’s eyes widened. And you knew what he was thinking.

“When you look at the amount of players who have chosen England over their own countries, we have to take that in our stride,” added Wright. Keane’s eyes now bulged, cheeks reddening.

Pougatch tried to steer the conversation to comparisons between Musiala and Messi.

Don’t let them move it, Roy.

Say it, go on, say it.

“Listen, Wrighty made a point,” bristled Keane. “It’s nice England get a taste of their own medicine. They have took players – Rice, Grealish, don’t get me started on that!”

Nervous laughter in the studio. But not from Keane. He’s a good lad, Roy.

Either way, most of the analysts were predicting a Germany win, though Hamann cautioned that it could be a draw.

Ally McCoist, in reference to Germany losing their opening game at the 2018 World Cup, was in little doubt

“In footballing terms the Germans don’t make too many mistakes. They certainly didn’t look the part the previous World Cup, I certainly don’t expect them to make the same mistake twice,” said McCoist, a couple of hours before Germany made the same mistake twice.

They led 1-0 at half-time. But then this World Cup of just four days produced its second major upset as Japan completely outplayed and outfought Germany.

“The World Cup delivers another sensational shock result,” beamed George Hamilton.

Back in the Big Brother house, Hamann was busy reminding us all about Hummels and his eviction.

“A surprise, yeah, a big surprise? I would say no,” he said of the result, as he sighed.

But if Hamman was deflated over Germany, Brady was buzzing about Japan’s second-half display.

“It was one of the best performances that I have seen in a World Cup,” he ventured.

Over on ITV, another former Ireland midfielder was similarly enthused.

“When you are playing Germany, you are 1-0 down, it’s a long way back,” said Keane.

“But to be clinical and score two goals against Germany, you can’t begrudge them the victory. It was absolutely brilliant to watch.”

And it was. Just don’t tell the six-year-old.

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times