Keane story nudging ahead of Pietersen in battle of the sports biography big hitters

You have to hand it to Roy Keane, he has done his best to steal a few headlines from Kevin Pietersen after the two most controversial sports books of the year appeared in the shops on the same day this week.

After sitting back and allowing KP the first round of media calls ahead of the publication of KP: The Autobiography,  Keane made the most of his chance with a powerful response at the launch of Roy Keane: The Second Half.

Both books are already selling in thousands, with online retailer Amazon this afternoon placing them at second and third in their bestsellers chart, with Keane nudging just in front of the former England cricketer.  Only Awful Auntie, a children's novel written by David Walliams, is currently attracting more sales.

Keane's big selling point is his scrap with Sir Alex Ferguson, from whom he famously parted on bitter terms after 12 years of enormous success at Old Trafford and who he claims fed deliberate lies to the media in order to discredit him. Indeed, he admitted that his first book, written with Eamonn Dunphy in 2002 and updated a year later, might have been as much as he wanted to say about his career had not Ferguson attacked him in the former Manchester United manager's own autobiography last year.

"We had our disagreements and I departed," Keane said at the launch of his book in Dublin. "I have no problems with that, it's fine.

“It was the way it was handled, the statements and stuff coming out about me. I'm pretty sure I know the source. I know the source of where it was coming from.

“Obviously Ferguson had friends in the media. He was pals with them and he put little snippets about me out there. It was lies, basic lies. So I had to come out and say 'Listen' -- and now is the time. I had to bide my time and I've waited long enough.”

He specifically accused Ferguson of rounding on the very players who had brought him wealth and enhanced his fame.

“For Alex Ferguson, not just to criticise myself, but other players who were part of a team that brought some good days to lots of supporters, for him to criticise that when you think of what he made out of it – he made millions of pounds out of it, he's got his statues, he's got his stand named after him.

"I said at the time, I wasn't too bothered about myself, but to criticise people who brought him success was just ridiculous.

“The stuff that has been said to me over the years, even from ex-team-mates, is a pack of lies, just lies and lies and lies and sometimes you just say, 'Listen, I have got to get up and say something myself and defend myself a little bit', and hopefully the book will reflect that.”

Keane's ghost, although hardly an invisble one, is the Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist, Roddy Doyle, who spoke about what was an unusual assignment for a writer with no connection with sport.

"I wondered what could I bring to the job," he said. "There’s no doubt at all that we like listening to Roy, we like what he says, but we also like the way he says it. I thought the challenge might be to make the book seem like almost a monologue, a theatrical monologue. I wasn’t writing a profile of him, I wasn’t trying to catch him out in any way, I always felt I was kind of an amplifier for him.

“And I felt my outsider status could be an advantage, I could ask questions that would be obvious to lay people, but ones that a sports journalist might bypass. So, in a way I thought that weakness would be a strength.

Asked if he had found Keane to be a fascinating subject, Doyle said: “Not fascinating, no. But interesting. And what I really liked, as a story teller, I wanted it to be more than just a book with anecdotes, I wanted to have a bit more than that. I think his readiness to openly acknowledge errors that were made, and learn from him, yeah, it was great. I thought business students should be reading this.”

Roy Keane: The Second Half,  is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Buy Roy Keane: The Second Half from Amazon, Waterstones or WHSmith



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