The Second Half of Two Sides: The Autobiography

As always around this time of year, many autobiographies are released by publishers to try and break into the Christmas market. This year has been no different, with three sporting icons trying to reach the top spot.

Roy Keane has released his second book, Second Half, while his former Manchester United teammate Rio Ferdinand has released his first, speaking to the youths of social media by including a hashtag in the title, #2Sides. Kevin Pietersen wraps up our trio of sports books with Kevin Pietersen: The Autobiography.

All three have gone hand in hand with controversy over the years, both on and off their respective fields, with these books now adding to the latter problems, as they direct their anger towards old foes and what were once old friends.

While Ferdinand’s is still like the run of the mill, over 30-year old, ex-England player’s book, to be remembered alongside Joe Cole’s and Wayne Rooney’s, Pietersen and Keane have books which hide an underlying question beneath the accusations. Is a there now a change in attitude towards the old fashioned coaching styles that have favoured winning over the player’s happiness?

That’s not to say there still isn’t the infamous name-calling and story-telling that helps sell these kinds of books. Pietersen’s is probably the best/worst for it, especially when talking about Matt Prior and his ex-England coach Andy Flower.

The former is referred to as the “Big Cheese” but it doesn’t end there as Pietersen says that Prior’s own self-importance made him look like “a Dairylea triangle thinking he’s brie”. It is as he berates Flower’s coaching abilities, “fucking horrendous” apparently, that there is a moment of thought to be had.

While his often very personal attacks are questionable, Pietersen is right in complaining about the attitude of that England camp. It was a camp dominated by an archaic coaching style, where players were broken down and bullied in order to conform to a winning mentality. This was the mainstay of any good sports team until now, with players beginning to protest against it, and it is slowly being phased out of sport.

Roy Keane is also an example of the changing attitudes. After being raised on Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson, it is understandable that his mentality wouldn’t be the good cop. Yet even he acknowledges, in between sort-of saying sorry for breaking Alf-Inge Håland’s leg and firing shots at Ferguson, that this style of coaching is wrong.

The epiphany came during his reign at Ipswich Town, which was doomed from the beginning apparently, as he proclaims he doesn’t “like fuckin’ blue” because “City were blue. Rangers were blue. My biggest rivals were blue.” This was not going to end well by all accounts.

In what would be a poor season and a half in charge, Keane was especially hard on Colin Healy and Damien Delaney, just because they were from Cork. He comes to the conclusion in his book that, “I made the point about [Sunderland owner] Ellis Short talking to me like I was something on the bottom of his shoe. I think I spoke like that to some people at Ipswich.”

It was a moment of realisation for the bearded man; people do not put up with being unfairly treated and being berated anymore. The tell-it-like-it-is way of management is going, ask Paulo Di Canio and Roberto Mancini.

While Roy and Kevin provoked questions from within, Rio Ferdinand’s book just doesn’t have the stuff to compete with its literary rivals. His big selling points are his claims over the Kick It Out campaign not supporting his family during the racism trial between his brother Anton and John Terry, whilst also continuing to undermine David Moyes’ tenure at Man Utd.

With his claims of Kick It Out proving untrue, as they had someone present at the trial throughout, and his big fuss about Moyes being that he took chips off the pre-match menu, it doesn’t stack up well.

So while all three books can be described as vociferous people lashing out at those that cannot offer them anything more, apart from Pietersen, who rips into the ECB and media, it can be said that there is something more in Keane’s and Pietersen’s books; if not for their thoughts, then for their brilliant. Then again, they may be too much talk and cheese for some people.

Ferdia Fallon Verbruggen

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