Wolverhampton manager Mick McCarthy has finally revealed the secret to his immense success. Every morning, McCarthy greets his players by firmly pressing his palm meat against their palm meat, curling his fingers around their fingers and ecstatically pumping his hand inside theirs. Over and over. Until the whole team has received a nice stiff shake.
"It is the most natural thing in the world to do and it made so much sense, not just for football but in any walk of life," McCarthy told the Irish Central website.
No wonder Wanderers barely escaped relegation this year. The training handshakes, which have never before been revealed to the public, are designed to generate a "bond" that relaxes players and brings them closer together. And closer to McCarthy. Where, you might ask, did the coach learn the benefits of metacarpal intercourse? In France, of course, circa 1989. In Lyons. Aaah, Lyons.
Strange thing, though: In 2002, McCarthy was managing Ireland in the World Cup (the loftiest assignment of his career) when things took a turn for the divisive. Ireland's captain and star player Roy Keane had been griping about training conditions, among other things. During a team meeting, his frustration spilled over into a legendary 10-minute tirade in which he obliterated McCarthy:
Mick, you're a liar... you're a fucking wanker. I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person. You're a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.
Irish striker Niall Quinn called the tongue-lashing "the most surgical slaughtering I've ever heard." Keane was sent home. An ensuing investigation of the Football Association of Ireland produced damaging conclusions about the state of Irish soccer. There's now a body of near-academic research about the "Saipan Affair" and the unraveling of Mick McCarthy's 2002 World Cup team. The incident cleaved Ireland and became an unhappy and unforgettable part of the country's sports history. No handshake will ever change that.