Tag Archives: Adrian Chiles

Leeds Legend Alfi Haaland Trolls Beardy Coward Keane – by Rob Atkinson

Roy                        -                         Saddam

Roy <—————————————————> Saddam

Nineties Leeds cult hero Alf-Inge Haaland has reignited the decades-long feud between himself and former Man U bully-boy Roy Keane, with a mischievous tweet (above) comparing Royston to the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Alf tweeted the provocative image, along with the message “can’t take a man seriously when he’s got a beard like….” Keane had earlier revisited the issue of his cowardly attack on Haaland during a Manchester derby, confusingly claiming that he never meant to injure Haaland, but had meant to hurt him. Eh?

Perhaps this self-contradiction is an insight into what goes on inside Keane’s head, which seems muddled and somewhat paranoid at the best of times. The media, as we know, are determined to portray the former Pride of Devon midfielder as the ultimate hardman, never missing an opportunity to speak in hushed tones of awe about his trademark glower and supposed talent for fisticuffs. The rest of us know, of course, that Keane’s scowl masks a coward, someone who will exact his revenge after an extended period of sulky brooding, but not face to face, preferring the over the ball tackle, as with Haaland, or sneaking up from behind to plant a crafty elbow in an opponent’s face, as he did with the not-exactly-scary Jason McAteer.

One can only wonder at Keane’s motivation for growing such a horrible dead badger of a beard – was it to reinforce his own persistent delusion that he’s somehow impressive and the type to strike terror into brave men’s hearts? Or could it have been, perhaps, to deflect the unwelcome attentions of ITV anchor Adrian Chiles, whose breathless admiration for Roy always appears to be about to cross that blurred line into unrequited love? That is one unilateral bromance which makes for particularly queasy viewing.

In his latest self-justifying whinge, Keane mentions a short list of people who were always on his mind as targets to hit “if I got the chance” – Batty, Shearer and Vieira among them. The phrase “In your dreams, Royston” springs readily to mind. And, significantly, there’s a whole world of sneaky cowardice about just those last five words, “if I got the chance“. This is not the attitude of an up and at ’em loveable nutcase like Vinnie Jones, or anyone of several of the Revie boys who weren’t shy about landing a good old-fashioned left-hook when the occasion demanded (Johnny Giles, come on down…) Keane’s modus operandi was to bide his time, wait until he could strike – and then move away, probably towards the dressing room and safety, after a rare Man U red card.

The origins of Keane’s spat with Haaland are illuminating in themselves. Keane had been pursuing a Leeds opponent at Elland Road, intent on fouling him (characteristically from behind) – and had mistimed it horribly, over-stretching and rupturing a cruciate ligament, as karma paid him a brief and devastating visit. Haaland, reasonably assuming the Man U player was faking injury to avoid a caution, was bent over the fallen Keane to communicate this point of view. Keane never forgot or forgave – despite the fact that he was the author of his own misfortune – and waited, as a coward will, for the safest opportunity to get some payback.

It’s instructive also to recall that Keane could be termed a traitor to his country, allowing his own small concerns to spark an attack of paranoia and cause him to flounce out of the Irish squad for the Japanese World Cup. Again, Roy being Roy, he could see no possible grounds for any criticism of his own actions. An immeasurably greater midfielder than Keane, Billy Bremner, used to hold as a maxim “Side Before Self, Every Time”. This kind of team spirit is not to be found in Keane’s lexicon; his mindset is best illustrated by reversing Billy’s motto. For Roy, Roy matters before all else and Roy is always right. It’s a shame he’s usually surrounded by brainless sycophants who encourage him in this sad delusion.

At the end of the day, all Leeds fans and many other less fortunate football lovers will see clearly that Haaland has emerged from this whole saga with infinitely more credit than the ridiculous Keane. The humour at the core of his “Beard” tweet is a concept alien to poor old Roy, who really does take himself far too seriously. In retrospect, he’d have been better off remaining under the guidance of Brian Clough, who was the type of boss to batter such petulant nonsense out of a young and bumptious footballer. The Theatre of Hollow Myths, with its track record of promoting and nurturing the kind of empty-headed arrogance typified by Keane, Rooney, Cantona and too many others, was the very last place to bring out the best in the volatile but less-than-tough Irishman.

It’s a tragedy in its way. Much as is the case – and thanks, Alf, for pointing this out so wittily – with that bloody awful beard…

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Suarez Storm Exposes Depths of Football’s Hypocrisy – by Rob Atkinson

Suárez - the eye-teeth have it

Suárez – the eye-teeth have it

As a long-suffering fan of Leeds United Football Club, I’m no stranger to cant and hypocrisy as delivered by some of the mealy-mouthed “Guardians of the Good Name of Football” types, who infest the media to sickening effect. My club much more than most has been the target and victim of some of these holier-than-thou merchants over the years, the kind of people who will loudly condemn a Revie, a Bremner or a Bowyer whilst turning a conveniently blind eye to the peccadilloes of a Georgie Best, a Saint Bobby Charlton or a Royston Keane. It’s all part of the United-supporting experience, but no less nauseating for that. As an experienced and cynical White, you tend to sigh, roll your eyes and reflect upon what unctuous pillocks some people are. It’s a Leeds thing – but it manifests itself more broadly than that sometimes. The few hours since the Uruguay v Italy World Cup game are ample proof of this.

This short lapse of time, since Luis Suárez hurled himself once more into the teeth of a storm of public disapproval and disgust, has been a veritable feast, a feeding frenzy for saintly hypocrites everywhere. It shows no sign of abating; those who seek the moral high ground can scent the blood of a perennial target – and this time, they mean to get him. Prominent among these people, working himself up into a froth of indignant condemnation, is ITV’s own cabbage-patch doll tribute, Adrian Chiles. The man who is to bone structure what Wayne Rooney is to flower power coiffure, seems to be in the process of establishing himself as prat-in-chief among the sorry ranks of football presenters. Nothing is too trivial, no issue too banal that we’ll fail to hear those lugubriously annoying Midlands tones as Chiles essays another laboriously-crafted shaft of wit – pardon the unintentional spoonerism there.

Sitting alongside Chiles, as often as not, wearing his trademark glower in the hope that one or other of his colleagues will smilingly point out just how damned hard he is, will be Roy Keane – ex-footballer and dispenser of summary justice as defined by, erm, Roy Keane.  The Chiles/Keane axis can be a little uncomfortable to watch for anyone whose sensitivities include the thorny issue of unrequited love.  Chiles so openly slavers over the former Man U thug that you begin to worry about the absorbent capacity of his tie. It’s a one-sided bromance that makes you, as an onlooker, wince with pain as the hapless and cushion-faced anchorman makes cow’s eyes at the ex-footballer, who affords him only a sneer and another glower from under those knitted brows by way of return.  It’s car-crash TV – you ache for the hopeless yearning of Chiles and you want to look away when you see the Celtic indifference displayed by the object of his adoration.  But there’s a horrid fascination about the scene, and we’re reminded uncomfortably of our own episodes of hero-worship in our callow and distant youth.  To see a grown man, even one as fatally foetal as Chiles, going through such adolescent love pangs is at once repellent and riveting.

The irony is, of course, that part of Chiles’ remit is to jump aboard the nationally-sponsored anti-Suárez bandwagon.  It’s something he does eagerly enough; clearly he feels himself to cut something of a dash while he’s verbally pulling to pieces such a conveniently distant target.  After all, he can’t see himself in a mirror when he’s in mid-rant.  The reason that Chiles is such a case in point is that, during infrequent pauses for breath as he lambastes his latest absent target, he will glance adoringly yet again at Mr Keane, the urgent desire for approval writ large across his Pilsbury Doughman features.  Doesn’t it strike you that there’s something incongruous about all of this?  Whatever the sins of the Uruguayan – does not the beloved Roy have a rap sheet just as long and twice as disgusting?

I’m not expecting too much agreement here – after all, anti-Suárez sentiments have been abroad for a good while, and won’t have been ameliorated by his brace of goals against Engerland last week.  But really – is the little Liverpool genius that much more to be condemned than, for instance, Keane – a man receipted and filed for an arrogant thug and a brazen coward?

Neither is this blog looking to defend Luis Suárez, not on the substantive issue of this compulsion of his to sink his teeth into folk, anyway.  In the eyes of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, he is guilty beyond doubt of immense stupidity – he is in fact a repeat offender in that respect. There’s something wrong there, something fundamentally at fault under the bonnet.  It seems that such fatal flaws often go hand-in-hand with the kind of genius which blesses Suárez – similar examples are not hard to think of.  Gascoigne, Best, Cantona.  They all, to a greater or lesser degree, had and have a screw loose.  The misfortune of Suárez is that he’s a serial recidivist, someone who seemingly can’t avoid re-offending, with the same modus operandi cropping up time and time again.

This blog will also freely concede that biting is a disgusting offence against the laws of the game and also against natural decency – on an old-fashioned level, it’s simply not the way a chap goes about sorting out his differences with another chap.  It’s not cricket; not the done thing.  Perhaps things are different in Uruguay, perhaps this is just another of those unknown “cultural differences” as in the Patrice Evra “negrito” storm, something that football in this country, and the football press, have neither forgiven nor forgotten.  You don’t call a chap nasty names (especially when he plays for Man U) – and you don’t bite, inflicting your DNA upon some unwilling recipient.  It’s unmanly and possibly unhealthy.  Perhaps if the sins of Suárez were more manifestly British in character – perhaps something along the lines of the various acts perpetrated by Mr Keane in his time – then we’d more readily understand and forgive.  But, as they’re not – as they have this alien flavour to them, it’s all to easy to cast the foreigner as scapegoat, whilst dismissing more easily-understandable fouls and transgressions with a nod, a wink and a grin – Roy’s such a bad lad, a proper hard-man, tsk tsk – but really, you know, he’s one of us.  This nasty subtext of xenophobia underpins the differing ways in which the actions of Suárez and Keane are perceived, rationalised and – as the case may be – excused or condemned.

Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t like to be trying to play football and then feel a set of teeth sinking into my shoulder.  I wouldn’t like it at all, and I doubt I’d have the restraint merely to whine at the referee if I were to be thus assailed. But ask me in the cold light of day whether I’d prefer that, or a calculated stamp intended to smash the knee of my weight-bearing leg – and I’d unhesitatingly plump for the Uruguayan’s top set every time.  A bite-mark heals a hell of a lot faster than ruptured ligaments.  And the fact is that Roy Keane – who carried out just such an assault on Alf-Inge Haaland, as all Leeds and Man City fans will remember – later acknowledged it as a coldly premeditated act, born of his anger at Haaland’s mocking him as he lay with a ruptured ligament of his own on the Elland Road turf in 1997.  That injury was sustained in the course of Keane trying to commit a foul; Haaland was innocent of any crime except the mouthful he gave to Keane, accusing him of feigning injury.  But Roy bore a grudge, Roy bided his time and Roy set out to end the career of Alf-Inge Haaland when they met in a Manchester derby four years later.  It was the act of a self-righteous, deluded coward; how Keane has this hard-man image utterly escapes me.  Another of his retaliatory acts was committed against that not-exactly-scary individual Jason McAteer, a player who would scarcely cause anyone to worry about the consequences of fouling him. But, in delivering a sly elbow to the face, Keane characteristically sneaked up from behind and then ran away – which neatly sums him up as the moral coward and fake hard-man he undoubtedly is.

So when we see the likes of Chiles having his empty-headed rant at the silly-boy actions of a firebrand and hair-trigger character like Luis Suárez – let’s not forget that one of his studio colleagues almost certainly has a hell of a lot more to answer for in terms of conduct unbecoming.  And yet, allowances were made for Keane throughout a career stained by many examples of petulant and vicious actions, with the man himself remaining arrogant, unrepentant, intent only on maintaining his illusory image as a tough guy.  As for Suárez, the press are even now engaged in talking up the length and severity of his punishment, as well as wondering excitedly whether or not any sanctions might spill over into Liverpool’s domestic campaign.  Let’s not forget that the Reds had to do without their Latin genius for the first few games of last season, courtesy of his last dental indiscretion.  It might even have made the difference by which they eventually lost the title – a high price to pay for proud and long-suffering fans. If the hypocrites have their way, then we will be denied the spectacle of one of the world’s very top players parading his genius – for that is what it is – not only for the remainder of the World Cup, but also well into the Premier League season yet to come.  The BBC are amazingly, ridiculously, mentioning a possible two year ban as I write. That would be a terrible tragedy, an injustice and a gross misreading of what is good for the game.

As I said earlier, genius is frequently accompanied by a lunatic fringe of unpredictably bizarre behaviour.  Genius is what Luis Suárez has, to a lavish degree.  He is one of the very few players for whom even today’s extortionate match ticket prices are well worth the investment.  Genius always deserves some latitude, some understanding of the nature of the beast.  Such is my assessment of the Suárez dilemma; genius has its prerogatives and will always be its own excuse.  By that reckoning, what possible excuse can there be for ersatz tough-guy and decided non-genius Royston Keane?  We’d better leave that to his besotted friend and colleague, hypocrite extraordinaire Adrian Chiles.

Respite, Paranoia and ITV – The Good and the Bad of Leeds United’s “Lost Weekend” – by Rob Atkinson

Image

Chiles and Keane – fatal attraction

A lot of Leeds United fans find it very difficult indeed to negotiate a whole weekend without their “fix” of the Whites – no matter what form our heroes currently happen to be in.  Lately, the fare has been quite poor – to the extent that the most recent defeat, a somewhat harsh and narrow affair at home to league leaders Leicester last weekend, was hailed as “refreshing” and “encouraging”.  Clearly, when we’ve drawn a blank again and lost, and yet we seek comfort from this, a break is not a bad idea.  There was no choice in the matter anyway; after our humiliating Cup exit to lowly Rochdale, we were without a game this weekend – so it was a matter of filling the time as best we could.  Leaving aside those unfortunates who would have been dragged out shopping, the options seemed quite clear-cut: discuss the mess and confusion at Elland Road with like-minded sufferers on the internet, or watch other, more progressive teams do battle in the 4th Round.

I’m among the number that quite welcomed a Leeds-free weekend.  There’s definitely something missing, but at least we don’t suffer another loss and the bleak down of depression that follows.  There was also the small matter of continued lack of progress on the TOMA and transfer fronts to chew over and, in the absence of much in the way of information from the suddenly tight-lipped United owners, the various social media platforms were abuzz with debate, with plenty of virtual rocks being flung in the direction of the suits in the boardroom.  That kind of thing certainly fills some time and – given a wide enough circulation – it can prompt some defensive tweets from various of the protagonists.  But it doesn’t do much to cheer up Leeds fans who are starting to suspect that our bright new start is becoming more of a dull old continuation of the same, depressing story.  As things stand, TOMA 2 (or 3, depending on how you count these things) appears to be in doubt, and incoming transfers appear to be a tantalising but remote prospect.  In other words, it’s shaping up to be a January no different from the last few.  Not a happy thought.

So that’s the mixture of respite and paranoia that dominated the mood in which all things Leeds were discussed, argued over and complained about over this lost weekend.  The net effect was negative; we might well have enjoyed some Leeds-free time a little more if other matters were looking up, but they aren’t, so we didn’t.  The main source of diversion from all of this gloom was the FA Cup, which was having somehow to stagger along without us.   The offerings at #LLUUE Towers were limited to good old ITV, as BT Sport is just too kitsch to contemplate.  The best games were reserved for highlights anyway, though I did watch Bournemouth against Liverpool when our Championship fellow-travellers did well against one of the top teams this season, without enjoying much luck.  There was a slightly grisly sideshow too, as Martin Skrtel had to have his head stapled back together at pitch-side.  If they’d have let him bleed a bit, then that godawful Liverpool away shirt might have ended up looking a bit more familiar – but you couldn’t fault the lad’s stoicism.

The real down-side of the ITV coverage is having to endure the burgeoning bromance between Adrian Chiles and Roy Keane.  It should be said that this appears largely to be a one-way love affair, with Chiles clearly smitten with unrequited adoration of the alleged tough-guy Keane.  Royston’s “hard” image seems to be something that all ITV staff are contractually obliged to big up; the references to “ooh, I’ll let you tell Roy that” bespattered the commentary of the match as well as the studio exchanges, during which Roy sat there, trying his best to look appropriately tough.  Adrian does appear to have it bad though, and it must be said that his is not a face designed to show hormonal devotion to its best advantage.  When you look, as Chiles does, like a warning for what may happen if cabbage patch dolls are allowed to breed, the last thing you should be doing is simpering foolishly on camera.  Every time the lens focused on Keane, we were treated to a trademark glower, and Chiles swooned anew.  It was hideously uncomfortable stuff.

Jermaine Pennant

Jermaine Pennant

There’s more of this unedifying spectacle to come, presumably, with Chelsea v Stoke lined up for us later on.  Stoke City have just released former United loanee Jermaine Pennant, so there’s bound to be speculation as to whether we might be making a move for him at some point in the remaining days of the window – or are we all wingered-up now?  In any event, the subject of incoming transfers is likely to remain on the back burner while renewed bids for our skipper of one week, Ross McCormack are still likely from West Ham.  The Hammers seem to have deduced from their 0-9 reverse in the League Cup semi that more firepower is needed, and there are whispers that the next effort to recruit Ross might involve a bid not unadjacent to £5 million.  David Haigh has said that our position was made clear in the summer when we refused to sell despite months of nagging from Middlesbrough.  But £5m is a LOT of money, and the next seven days might be just a little too interesting for comfort – particularly for anyone with a memory for United’s tendency to sell a vital player or two at this time of year.

Any weekend without Leeds United is liable to be less fulfilling than normal, and this one has certainly felt like that – even without the sting of defeat that has become so familiar.  The discontent out here in fan-land, the relative silence from the club, the speculation over Ross and the conflicting stories in the press over whether our saviour might be Italian or simply non-existent – all of this has conspired to make it a respite without much in the way of relaxation or comfort.  Things will get back to something more like normal on Tuesday when we meet Ipswich at Elland Road.  A repeat of the performance against Leicester might yield a better result, particularly if Jimmy Kebe continues his improvement in form and match fitness.  Depending on that result, and on other developments – who knows how things will be looking seven days from now?

Whoever does know – they’re not saying, for the moment.  Tune in again throughout the week, for the very latest on the tragicomic Leeds United soap opera.