There is another factor at play. Doing a book like this is a calculated risk for someone of Doyle’s stature. Booker winners do not usually act as ghost writers, which is what Doyle is doing in this case no matter what spin the publishers put on it. (They say the book will blend “memoir and motivational writing in a manner which both disquiets and reassures in Roy Keane’s own original voice, in a stunning collaboration with Man Booker Prize-winning writer Roddy Doyle” etc., etc.)
As a Booker winner Doyle has a lot to lose if the book disappoints critics or runs into problems – and running into problems is always a possibility with Keane.
Neither Keane nor Doyle were available to answer questions at the weekend about their collaboration. But the press statement announcing the new book did contain the following quotes:
Keane: “I am very happy to be working with Roddy Doyle on this book, and look forward to the experience.”
Doyle: “Ten years ago I was buying something in a shop in New York and I handed my credit card to the young African man behind the counter. He read ‘Bank of Ireland’ on the card, looked at me and said: ‘Ireland – Roy Keane.’ I’m delighted to be writing this book with Roy.”
Overall, in spite of the potential for yellow cards, "The Second Half" is likely to be a bestseller, not just in Ireland but in the much more lucrative British market, and it should also do well in the U.S. where “soccer” is now a growing sport and Man United has many followers. It should make huge amounts of money for everyone involved.
There is one little difficulty up ahead, however. This autumn also will see the publication of the autobiography of another sports god (or BOD as he is called here), rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll. So it will be the round ball versus the oval ball.
Who will come out on top in the Christmas books market will be as fascinating to watch as any game played by either of them.