A forensic analysis of every Roy Keane comment before & after England defeat

Roy Keane once again caused his stir with his punditry on ITV for England’s World Cup semi-final defeat – and we’ve analysed every single one of his comments from before and after the game.

“Roy Keane is back alongside us to restore some calm” is how Mark Pougatch introduced him at the start of the show. Unsurprisingly, he did anything but.

His withering put down of Ian Wright has made the headlines, but Keane was in fine form from the moment the programme began – and reading back his comments now, he was virtually spot on throughout.

Early warning

Keane remained completely stony-faced as Ian Wright spoke of his confidence that England would win, serving an early reminder that he would not be a fourth cheerleader alongside Wright, Lee Dixon and Gary Neville.

Speaking for the first time, he gave a menacing warning that he had a few home truths ready should England go out.

Asked by Pougatch whether this was a “big opportunity” for England, Keane replied: “Absolutely, but it’s one they’ve got to take. There’ll be no excuses after the game tonight.

“They don’t seem to be playing with any pressure. That’s down to Gareth with how he’s worked with them. They seem in a good place, and this Croatia team, they’ve got some good players, but it’s there for the taking.”

First annoyance

As Pougatch asks the guests about the threat of Croatia, in particular Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Keane does something no other pundit could manage as he finishes off his ever-so-slightly angry reply with a wonderful look at Pougatch that provokes a nervous laugh.

“Two quality players. If you can stop those two, England should get ready for the final.

“But having said that, we’re talking about England being tested at the back tonight. It’s a World Cup semi-final. You should expect to be tested.”

England identity

To be fair to Keane, he was pretty complimentary about England throughout and seemed particularly impressed by the camaraderie among the players.

“I think they have created [an identity], yeah, with Gareth bringing a lot of younger players into it. They’re placing with a lot of pace, energy, they’re playing it out of the back.

“From the outside looking in at England before, you always thought there was a lot of cliques going on, there was maybe baggage in the background. This group of players, they look like they are a team.

“Obviously the set pieces have been excellent, they’ve had a little bit of luck, which we all need, and yeah, I think they have created something.

On Jordan Henderson

“I think Jordan’s matured over the last one or two years. Defensively, they will be fine.

“What you expect a bit more from Jordan, which I’ve been critical of, is maybe there’s too many sideways passes. Tonight, it’s [about] courage, passing forward quickly to get these players on the turn and at that Croatia back four.

“But Jordan’s a good player and I’m glad to see he’s doing well because he’s had his critics over these last few years.”

Another warning

Asked for his final thoughts before kick-off, Keane can’t resist a smile at the mere thought that England might go out.

“It’s a great opportunity for England. I think if they show enough courage they’ll win the game, but they’ve been in this position before and messed things up so let’s see how the night goes.”

Asked about nerves among the players, he added: “They should have nerves. Nerves are a good thing, they give you that extra bit of energy, and if they weren’t nervous I’d be worried.”

Half-time warning

The warnings just kept on coming. As the rest of the panel focused on England’s good start, Keane was in more prophetic mood.

“Great start for England. It’s been comfortable for them, but when it’s comfortable you can get sloppy. They’ve had a couple of other half-chances; too many passes back to the goalkeeper.

“In football you’ve got to respect the opposition but also smell when they’re there for the taking. England have got to finish this job off because in the last five or 10 minutes there were a couple of daft free-kicks given away, they’re putting themselves under pressure.

“Courage and bravery. If they get themselves on the front foot, the game’s there for the taking because Croatia are all over the place.”

On Lingard’s missed chance

“That’s a great chance again. Jesse’s got it in his locker to smash it in. I think that was just being sloppy. You should certainly hit the target from the edge of the box when there’s no pressure on him.

On Maguire/Lovren pulling incident

Keane might not always be overly pro-England, but he’s fair. And old school.

“When you speak to defenders, you do say ‘get touch tight’. You have to have some sort of contact, it’s not chess they’re playing.

“You have to get close to people. That’s never been a penalty, never in a million years.”


Keane just couldn’t stress enough how much of an opportunity England had to reach the World Cup final – and how much they’d kick themselves if they failed.

“There’s always a worry, maybe from set pieces. They’ve got experience and they’ve got one or two talented boys. But if England don’t finish this game off they’ll never forgive themselves.

‘Old England’

Having impressed with their composure in playing out of the back, there’s no denying England resorted to long balls too often against Croatia. And Keane, as usual, was the one providing the best analysis.

“We praised England before the game for their composure, their energy, but that’s gone out of the window, it’s back to the old England.

“But they’re still very much in this game and they still have that pace up front to cause problems.

No room for excuses

Come half-time of extra time, as Pougatch spoke about fatigue, Keane quickly nipped it in the bud. At this stage, he seemed to fancy England.

“It’s the same for both teams. England have just come back into the game in extra time. The full-time whistle came at a good time. They’ve gathered a bit of composure.

“Pickford’s had to make a great save there, but that’s his job. I still think England have enough going forward. OK, they’re not creating many chances, but all they need is one, and they still have that pace in the team. It only takes a second to get that chance.”

First reaction

A fair analysis from Keane, and an introduction to his great likeness of Gareth Southgate.

“I think Croatia deserved it in the end. As the game went on they seemed to get stronger. They were more streetwise, showed more composure.

“England gave two sloppy goals away. That lack of experience maybe came into it, but all credit to Croatia, and credit to Gareth. He’s been class throughout the tournament, a class guy, but this game can kick you where it hurts.

“England will have to suffer tonight, but going forward he will be delighted.”

Credit to Croatia

In a studio full of Englishmen, Keane made sure Croatia were credited for their performance. But there were some more nice words for England, too.

“England players throughout the tournament – and Gareth – have shown a lot of class. You have to take your medicine, but let’s give credit to Croatia. We questioned them before, but they were like warriors tonight. Credit to them.”

Start of things to come

As the rest of the panel again focuses on the positives of England’s campaign, Keane starts to step up with the home truths.

“Yeah…I kind of agree with them,” he begins, smiling.

“Harry Kane made the point about the next step they’re trying to take. The next step is the biggest step, trying to get to a World Cup final.

“They didn’t show enough quality tonight. We praised them and I think the opportunity was there to win the game, but having the opportunity and going on to take it is another challenge, and they didn’t do that.

“They will be kicking themselves. Maybe not tonight because they’ll be sore and they’ll be raw, but when Gareth gets back over the next few weeks with his staff, they’ll say ‘maybe we could have done something differently’.

“You always have that mindset after you’ve been beaten, but it was just a step too far for them.”

On Kane’s misses

“I’m a big fan of Harry Kane and I think he’s going to be a superstar…but he just looked a bit sluggish tonight. Maybe he’s carrying an injury, I don’t know, but he didn’t look quite himself.

Insight of a winner

Keane interrupted Wright to make this point. There’s a pecking order in every team, and Keane is in no doubt where his place is.

“Ian, I’m sorry, but I want to make a point.

“You look at all these England players, a lot of them haven’t actually won a trophy, and it’s highly unlikely the first trophy you’re going to win in your career is going to be a World Cup so I think that caught up with them as well, that lack of experience.”

Going in on Stones

Like we said earlier, Keane is old school. Discussing Croatia’s winner, this was his chance to say his piece aboutm John Stones.

“We talk about England playing out from the back, and Stones is very comfortable on the ball, but you still have to have the art of defending, and I always talk about players smelling danger.

“Stones is ball watching, then when the goal goes in he’s looking at people as if, ‘no one gave me a shout’. You’re not going to get a shout in a World Cup semi-final, you’ve got to be aware of it and deal with it yourself.

“We’ve seen him do it with Man City before. He does get caught out, defensively.”

A little dig

“You have to be good enough to take it, and I think we’ve seen tonight England aren’t quite good enough to take that opportunity.”

On Southgate

Speaking after Southgate’s post-match interview, Keane’s fondness for the England manager really shone through.

“He’s hurting. A class interview from a class guy, we can’t say any more about Gareth. He’s taken defeat like the guy we know he is, a top man.

“But he’ll know deep down that this was a huge opportunity for England to get to a World Cup final, and they might never get a better opportunity.

“OK, he’s proud of the players, they’ve done fantastic, and they’re young and they’ll be better for it because defeat is part of football, but they’ve missed a huge opportunity.”

‘Obviously I’m Irish’

Pougatch asked Keane whether England’s performances at this World Cup have provided a “bounce that football generally as a whole needs to take advantage of?”

In fairness, it was a strange line of questioning. And Keane was quick to serve another dose of realism.

“I think England have done well. I wouldn’t be as excited as the other lads because obviously I’m Irish, and maybe have a different outlook on it.

“This England team, they still have a lot to do. I see a lot of these players week in, week out in the Premier League; I think they have a lot to do individually to get up and play with the top clubs – a lot of the lads are playing with mid-table teams – and then when you come to a World Cup and you’re up against top teams, your experience, it’s a big ask, it’s a big challenge.

“But sometimes you have to lose to win, you have to learn the hard way, and whatever way you look at these players, they will be better for it.

“But having said that, in the next few years, they’ll be peaking in two years or four years, but Brazil, Spain, Germany, France, they’ll still be strong, they’ll have players coming through. The challenge is going to be even bigger for them.”

The rant

And then, from nowhere, Keane decided to tell Wright what he really thought.

RK: “Yesterday and today, we were talking about England. The whole talk about the final, France. You have to focus on just one game, but everyone was talking about the final. The football’s coming home.

IW: “We wasn’t talking about the final, we were just having a laugh. The fact is that we were happy. You weren’t happy for us.”

RK: “I don’t mind you being happy but you were getting carried away. You were planning the final, where the parades were.

IW: “No we weren’t.”

RK: You need a reality check.”

IW: “Why shouldn’t we get excited about it? It’s something to get excited about.”

RK: “But get excited when you get to the final.”

IW: People weren’t even expecting us to get to the semi-final, why couldn’t we have got excited about being in there (final)?”

RK: “Just take it one game as it comes. Take it a game at a time. You’ve no idea what it’s like to get to a finals, or even get to a World Cup. You’ve never been to a World Cup finals.”

Wright responds by mocking Keane’s pronunciation of the word ‘final’, to which Keane replied: “You know what I’m talking about. You’ve embarrassed yourself.”

Wright added: “He’s going to cane me again.” Keane just smiled.

Play-off thoughts

Asked whether it would matter to England if they won Saturday’s third-place play-off against Belgium, Keane said: “I think it will do for the lads coming in. Gareth will give other players in the squad a run out, and it will mean something to those players, definitely.”

A final laugh

Wright: “I’m coming home at least, Nance.”

Keane’s final act of the evening was to laugh. See, they’re mates really.

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