"Some managers keep losing their rag on the sidelines and some are doing it for effect - just to be spotted themselves," explained Keane. "That is not a road I want to go down. It's a habit some managers have got into, but I have made a conscious effort not to be ranting and raving on the sidelines. It's a waste of time which saps you of energy and means you can't get a clear focus on the game. And doing it would probably have put me in an early grave."Accordingly, managers who jump up and down so much that they might as well be on technical area trampolines now rank alongside footballers in thrall to the demands of their wags, or those who insist on collecting opponents' shirts, as objects of Keane's gloriously withering disdain.
If this might strike those referees regularly abused by a once ultra-aggressive midfielder as somewhat hypocritical, the fact is that maturity has exerted a transforming effect on the Irishman. "I don't find it difficult to appear detached, I'm not trying to be someone I'm not," he said. "But if I'm going to lose my rag I want to do it in the privacy of our own dressing room."
Moreover Keane believes managers should observe a code of sportsmanship. "I look at other benches but I'm not one for jumping up and down and trying to get opposition players booked," he said. "You see enough of that around, managers appealing against every decision. I'm not going to lose my rag about a throw-in on the halfway line.
"When I see other managers doing that I think, 'If you're going to lose it, at least lose it for a major decision, a penalty or a sending-off'. And even then, I think losing it is a waste of time. If you're ranting and raving on the sidelines about refereeing decisions you lose focus on the game."
In any case, Keane knows from experience that many players remain oblivious to touchline hysterics. "As a player I never took too much notice of what the manager was saying or doing once I was on the pitch," he recalled.
As a spectator at Ewood Park watching Blackburn's home defeat by Portsmouth last Sunday he did, however, take considerable notice of Hughes's technical area demeanour. "For a 20-minute spell on Sunday I thought Sparky was the ball boy. He was chasing balls and getting quick throw-ins," said Keane with a mischief-suffused smile.
Although he and Hughes were never real friends and have had "no contact whatsoever" since their paths diverged, Keane has happy memories of nights spent drinking with the former centre-forward. "I had some good sessions with Sparky," he recalled. "I could tell you a few stories about Sparky but I'm sure he can tell one or two about me, too. I feel very lucky to have played with him, because he was a top, top player, but the nature of football is such that when people move on, you don't really keep in touch with them."
Many people, Sir Alex Ferguson included, were startled when Hughes became a manager but Keane was not among them. "I wouldn't say I was shocked," he said. "Sparky was always the quiet one in the United dressing room but he was always taking things in. He's proving to be a top manager and it's a good challenge for me to pit my wits against him. I'm looking forward to it."
Who needs words? Keane is now able to convey the full spectrum of human emotions via subtle variations in the speed of his gum-chew. Ranges from really fast (absolutely furious) to very fast (boiling mad) to quite fast (stewing with indignation)
The wax statue
Mastered the art of the match-long motionless loom, from either seated or standing position. Known to pass entire 90 minutes without blinking. Willing to spend long periods of either half silently staring the wrong way just to make his point
A single finger raised chillingly to the side of the eye. Tests show this can boost a player's performance by up to 180%. May be combined with threatening "think-about-it" temple-tap