EURO 2012: Keane steps up Irish criticism

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OUTSPOKEN former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane has ramped up his criticism of his national side - and declared himself ready to take on anyone in the squad who disagrees with him.

In the wake of Ireland`s tournament-ending 4-0 defeat to Spain on Thursday - Keane was highly critical of those involved in Gdansk and was annoyed by the way the players were serenaded from the stands despite their heavy loss. His outburst has caused a stir in Irish football circles, with goalkeeper Shay Given refuting Keane’s claims the side were only at the tournament for a “sing-song”, while manager Giovanni Trapattoni told Keane to concentrate on his own coaching career.

The 40-year-old was unrepentant though, using his column in the Sun yesterday to resume his broadside.

“You’ll never beat the Irish?” he wrote of a popular terrace chant. “It’s time for that song to be put away because, at the moment, everyone is beating them. I’m sick of this ‘win, lose, we`re on the booze’ mentality. It has to change.”

Keane notoriously walked out of Ireland’s 2002 World Cup campaign, meaning some fans have refused to give his comments any credence.

But the former Manchester United midfielder is ready to stand by his comments, especially if challenged by players he believes do not deserve their place in the side.

“The likes of (Robbie) Keane, Shay Given, Richard Dunne, John O`Shea and Damien Duff are picked every game as they have a big reputation. A reputation for what? They hadn’t qualified for anything in 10 years,” he said.

“They love having a dig back when I say something but I tell you now, I`ll be ready if they do because players have to be accountable for how the team did. I’m trying to be constructive but the manager and players all have to be accountable. It’s not good shrugging our shoulders and having a sing-song.”

Keane did seek to clarify his comments about the supporters, though, adding: “People seem to have misunderstood me. I’ve no problems with the fans singing.”