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Manchester United Idols: Roy Keane – leadership, anger, belief and sheer determination; one of the best

Manchester United miss having a midfielder like Roy Keane at the club, something that has pained me over the years. I have thought about what could have happened if the Irishman remained at the club, what United could have added to their achievements, but more importantly, it was probably the best time for it to happen in order for United to start something new again; the squad to be rebuilt for another generation.

Keane signed for United from Nottingham Forest for £3.75 million, a British transfer record at the time. Blackburn Rovers manager Kenny Dalglish has a verbal agreement with Keane at the time Sir Alex Ferguson swooped in and stole the player from under Dalglish’s nose. A massive coup for Ferguson. Keane was young and talented, having all the right things to succeed at United, the aggression being the main thing he was known for.

“My regret was that I should have gone abroad earlier in my career. I could have signed for Juventus or Bayern Munich. I had much better financial offers from them, but at the time I wanted to stay at Manchester United. I felt at home at Old Trafford.”

– Roy Keane on his regret to not go abroad earlier in his career.

Keane was an idol of mine, a player who gave as good as he got, if not more, standing his ground and not letting anyone get one over him. Alf-Inge Håland knows that only too well. Keane played for United for the best part of thirteen seasons, a great period of time with the player filling the void which would later be left by Bryan Robson, wearing the captain’s armband and being the voice, the aggression, the thunder and the lightening of Ferguson’s United team. Keane did not take much stick but gave a lot.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s with Arsenal on the rise and challenging United for Premier League glory, Keane and Patrick Vieira, amongst others clashed a lot of the time. There was one match, in particular, played in the early 2000s with Keane and Vieira clashing in the tunnel, which was seen live on Sky Sports and around the world in which you heard Keane angrily say; “I’ll see you out there”.

Those were the days. Keane was the captain, leader and legend and as I was growing up, my idol. I always wanted to be a midfielder like Keane, but with two left feet, it was never going to happen for me. Keane, at that time, was the be all and end all of United for me, and perhaps he will always have a place in my heart, a time where things were great.

“The only reason I ended up leaving Manchester United was I appealed a £5,000 fine. If I hadn’t appealed the fine I wouldn’t have left Manchester United – don’t be brainwashed by the propaganda and lies.

“It is peanuts, you get fined that for being late for training at United. I appealed because I felt I shouldn’t have been fined for speaking about a match on the club station.”

– Roy Keane on the only reason he left Manchester United.

The end of the player’s career at United in 2005 was a bad one, criticism of his own teammates on MUTV seemed to do enough for Ferguson to decide that he was done at the club, signing for Celtic as soon as the transfer window was open, still getting his testimonial at the club, something he did deserve for the amount of blood, sweat and other player’s tears he put into his game.

Keane, at least as a player will always be a legend for me. A player, who at his prime, will always be the type of player any team would want. Blackburn missed out on a player who would have strengthened their side and may have seen them win more than one Premier League title, maybe not even be resigned to the depths of the Football League today. Who knows. To see Keane in his United playing days will always get my attention.

The fact he was a winner, demanded his side win, lifting seven Premier League titles, four FA Community Shields, four FA Cup trophies, one UEFA Champions League trophy, although he did not play in that match due to suspension, along with Paul Scholes and one Intercontinental Cup – playing 480 times for United, scoring 51 goals – 1992 to 2005 will always be a great era for United, the foundations were built to knock Liverpool off their perch, which Sir Alex Ferguson completed before he retired, and Keane was part of that too.

“Have I stepped out of line? Damn right I have. Manchester United fined me about £500,000 over my career but that is because I was sent off and I always held my hands up.

“Ironically when I appealed a £5,000 fine that’s when I left the club. I wished they played this video, it is propaganda, ‘we had to destroy it’. How do you even destroy a video?

“I left with my head held up high, I was fine with my actions, I always felt my intentions were to do the best for Manchester United.”

– Roy Keane on stepping out of line during his career.

Management may not have been right for him, not at the time anyway but coaching and punditry seem to work, despite his criticism of United, which was partly right, saw him slated by United fans. Keane will always be a legend to me for what he did on that pitch, his thoughts will not ruin that for me. Looking at what he has been saying recently, Keane certainly knows his stuff and sees United as that team he still shares his heart with.

Written by John Walker

Roy Keane – The last of a dying breed

Roy Keane was one of Manchester United’s greatest ever captains and the joint most successful Irish footballer of all time recording an outstanding nineteen trophies at Old Trafford. He was a ferocious box to box midfielder that had all the makings of a midfield general. Keane first began to shine with his time at Nottingham Forrest and although he was a standout in Brian Clough’s team following the club’s relegation into the second division, his wage demands meant he was available to buy.

Clough at the time declared Keane as the ‘hottest prospect in football’ at the time. Their loss was his gain and as the song goes, Blackburn were also monitoring his situation but it was Sir Alex Ferguson who forked out a British record £3.75 million for the Irish warrior.

Although it was a huge fee at the time Keane wasn’t automatically inserted into the starting eleven instead he was considered a long-term replacement for Manchester United legend and captain Bryan Robson. He was the ideal fit and with Robson’s career slowly coming to an end Keane got his chance and instantly found himself a fan favourite completing a miraculous recovery at Maine Road, Keane clinching the game 3-2.

Keane went on to complete 326 appearances at Old Trafford over the space of 15 years and delivered numerous match-winning performances although Keane plays down his skills stating:

“You get it, you pass it to another player in a red shirt. That’s really all I’ve tried to do at Forest and United, pass and move, and I’ve made a career out of it.”

Few would argue that he was a truly special player. However, he combined his talents with a steely determination and will to win a type of attitude that is missing in the modern game.

Although he delivered an abundance of Man of the Match performances. There are a few that sit firmly in the mind more than others. Perhaps the clearest of all is that night in Turin where Keane cemented his legacy amongst the very best at Manchester United. It was the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final with the tie level at one each United needed to beat Juventus in their own back yard but they got off to the worst possible start, Filippo Inzaghi bagged a quick brace and the Reds were on the brink of elimination so were dreams of that historic treble.

However, Keane had different plans and performed like a man possessed, even though he picked up a yellow card that ruled him out the final he managed to score a glancing header to get United back in the game, the rest, of course, is history.

Although Keane was, without doubt, a legend his qualities were also his weaknesses and there are few players in this era of respect and comradery that replicate his traits and certainly none at the level Keane played at. His fearsome persona got him trouble more often than not and it may have been this that earned the love of the United faithful.

Cast back to the bitter Manchester United and Arsenal rivalry and there is a scene that both sets of fans will remember clearly. Shortly before a season-defining tussle between two of England’s giants at Highbury a tussle nearly broke out in the tunnel following Patrick Vieira’s comments towards Gary Neville and it was Keane being the captain and hard man that he was who put the giant Vieira in his place and in doing so inspired United to a 4-2 win with Gary Neville and co declaring that Keane’s actions had played a huge part in the win.

Although Keane’s time at United ended in a bitter feud with Sir Alex and it seems that he never really settled his dispute with the club he is a player that will always be highly regarded and a fan favourite. His style may not be repeated in today’s game and he probably wouldn’t have got away with the tactics and crunching challenges he was so famous for but his passion and mentality was second to none and it is that attitude that would go a long way in today’s team, however, it is a style that may soon be extinct.

Written by Josh Keifer

Nemanja Matic looked to Roy Keane with admiration, possibly defining his career so far…

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic spoke ahead of Serbia’s FIFA World Cup qualifier with the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday evening which resulted in a 1-0 victory for Matic’s side about his admiration of former United midfielder Roy Keane, the assistant manager of Ireland. Matic, a £40 million signing by Manchester United this summer, resulting in many wondering why Chelsea sold the player, effectively strengthening Jose Mourinho’s side this summer, especially in a position that needed strengthening in. The Serbian international who now sees his country in pole position in Group D, four points clear of second-placed Wales, spoke about Keane being a player he based his game on, now filling the role vacated by the player around twelve years ago. Matic, reported by Sky Sports, said:

“Everybody knows that Roy Keane is a legend of Manchester United – he was a very important player for a long time.

“When I was young and started to follow football, he was at his best at Manchester and was one of the best midfielders in the league.

“I tried to take something from lots of players to improve myself and of course Roy Keane was one of those players.

“He’s a legend in Manchester and I’ll be happy to see him and have a chat. I’m happy that I play at the same club that he played.”

Keane was a once record signing for United bringing Keane from Nottingham Forest for £3.75 million, a small fee if you base it on what Matic cost the club this summer. Times have changed though and United, despite signing many midfielders since Keane left the club, never actually found that player to fill the void. Michael Carrick was the first replacement, filling the void in his own way. Owen Hargreaves was probably the best player brought in, but his injury record showed that United still had work to do. In recent years Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Morgan Schneiderlin have all be brought in to play in this position, none of them really making their mark.

Since Matic made his debut for United, he has received the plaudits he deserves for what he brings to the team. To think United could have paid so much more for Eric Dier in the summer, a player who has nothing on Matic, other than age on his side. Matic may be a stop-gap in terms of longevity, but for what he will bring United this season, it will be well worth it. Jose Mourinho knew exactly what he was bringing into the Old Trafford club this summer, which is something that should have been backed with many moaning that Matic is not Fabinho, the cult footballer who they (most of them anyway) wanted this summer.

Matic is experienced in the Premier League, winning two league titles in the last three years, the first of which under Mourinho led to the manager wanting the player in order to help United challenge for the title this season, Mourinho’s second at the club and normally the season where he wins a league title, as he has done in Portugal, England, Italy, Spain and England again. United and Mourinho could have done so much worse than Matic this summer, looking at what he has helped the team achieve so far this season, three wins in a row, ten goals scored, none conceded and United back at the top of the Premier League. Matic was the player United needed. Not an all singing, all dancing Brazilian who the fans, some of them at least, wanted.

My Favourite Three: Sir Alex Ferguson signings; Schmeichel, Keane, Cantona

Sir Alex Ferguson signed around 105 players during his time as Manchester United manager. Some were good, some were bad and some were that good they named him twice (Eric Djemba-Djemba). Over the last few days, some of the writers have talked about their favourite three Manchester United signings which were brought in by Ferguson. I am a little old school with my choices as these were the players I grew up watching, the ones who I feel made United the dominating club they were in the 1990’s. Ferguson signed some true stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney (the old one not the new one) and many, many more. but these three are my favourites…

Peter Schmeichel

The Danish goalkeeper signed for Manchester United from Brøndby on the 6th August 1991 for a fee of only £505,000, which considering the player he became at United, it was a true bargain. Schmeichel did it all with United, becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, if not the best, which could still be the case today. His son, Kasper Schmeichel plays for Leicester City, winning the Premier League himself during the 2015/16 season. Schmeichel played a total of 393 matches for United, scoring one goal, which is not something you would expect from a goalkeeper. The Danish giant won the Premier League five times, lifted three FA Cup trophies, won the League Cup once, four FA Charity Shields, one UEFA Super Cup and a UEFA Champions League title, after winning the treble with United in his final season, which was such a fairytale ending. After United, Schmeichel played for Sporting CP, Aston Villa and Manchester City before hanging up his gloves. He was an ambassador for United until recently, vacating that position. Schmeichel will also be considered one of the players who made Manchester United the team they were in the 1990’s.

Roy Keane

Roy Keane, his relationship with Ferguson may have been bittersweet, but there is no taking away what the player achieved for Manchester United. Keane was Mr Manchester United in the midfield, a player who brought the fear into the opposition, a player not scared by anyone, especially Patrick Vieira – ‘I’ll see you out there’. Keane was signed by Ferguson from Nottingham Forest for just £3.75 million, a British record transfer at the time. The Irishman was a tough tackler, a player which never gave up and dug deep to achieve what he helped United achieve. In the treble-winning season, Keane suffered the unimaginable – he missed the UEFA Champions League final due to suspension along with Paul Scholes, which was a big blow for United, but something they gon on with and overcame, going 1-0 down in the first six minutes, but scoring two goals through Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, both from corners taken by David Beckham. Keane left United in December 2005 after an interview he did with MUTV, playing his first match for Celtic in January 2006. Keane had a testimonial with United, against Celtic with United winning 1-0, Keane playing a half for each of the clubs. Keane was a problem to replace for United with Michael Carrick taking his old number, being the best replacement for him, despite not being in any way similar to the Irishman, filling in the void in his own way.

Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona is my favourite Manchester United player. He just had it all and it was a shame United did not keep him for longer. He could have been one of the best players of his time, which he probably was, but his legendary status could have been much better. Signed from Leeds United for just £1.2 million with the chairman of the club, Bill Fotherby telephoning United chairman Martin Edwards to see if he could sign left-back Denis Irwin. Ferguson was in a meeting with Edwards at the time, both being in the same room. They both agreed that Irwin was not for sale but Ferguson needed a striker and Cantona’s availability tested with Fotherby having to ask manager Howard Wilkinson and the transfer was concluded a few days later. The prolific Frenchman spent just five seasons at United before retiring from the game. A kung-fu kick against Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons saw him being banned from the game. The same Eric Cantona never returned. He famously said the following at a press conference; “When the seagulls follow the trawler, they expect sardines to be thrown into the sea.” That puzzled many and the man left the game standing still, never to return to the pitch as a player again. Cantona made 185 appearances for United, scoring 82 goals. Not the most prolific, but Cantona was a genius, one which Leeds United missed out on, which makes it so much better.

copyright: JW