Roy Keane rarely strays from the controversial. Outspoken and opinionated, these are perhaps the reasons that he is fast becoming a captivating football pundit. The former Manchester United midfielder opens up about his bitter Old Trafford exit in a documentary produced by ITV for this week.
Coming clean about his breakdown with Sir Alex, has Keane muddies the name of the greatest Premier League manager of them all?
Keane speaks about an almost tyrannical style rule under Ferguson at United, something that in his view makes him without a doubt a lesser manager than the late great Brian Clough. Keane had the following comments to make about his ignominious departure from the club:
“The manager told me we’d come to the end and I said, “You’re right”,’ says Keane. ‘I’d obviously lost respect for him and he’d lost respect for me. What would be best for Man United, if they thought I was some sort of loose cannon, was to leave. I got my boots and drove out. Don’t think I’m some sort of machine here. I was upset of course, and I did shed a few tears in my car outside the training ground for about two minutes, but also I told myself I needed to get on with my life.”
“Alex Ferguson thanked me for my 11-and-a-half years at the club and I had to remind him I’d been at Man United for 12-and-a-half years. Again, I think this was all part of the game, you know. Two words the manager spoke to me about a number of times were “control” and “power” and that was how he worked. We can still see that now even though he’s not a manager. I don’t think that will ever leave him.”
As damning as Keane is, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Ferguson was able to have his say in his book, why shouldn’t Roy Keane be able to have his?
People often take what Roy Keane has to say with a pinch of salt and this outburst should be no different. People would be naïve to think that a dynasty like the one Sir Alex enjoyed at United would continue for years without incident. Fallouts with the likes of David Beckham and Jaap Stam have been well publicised and I really don’t think they detract in any way from his achievements.
Personal liberty is something to be treasured not chastised, and regardless of what you make of Keane’s comments for me it doesn’t matter. Sir Alex isn’t the sensitive type he gives as good as he gets, and I doubt he is surprised by what Keane thinks of his tenure.
Success in football rarely comes without single-minded ruthlessness and United under Ferguson epitomised this. For me Ferguson is the greatest manager of them all, and Keane’s comments don’t detract from that at all. They may be unnecessary and perhaps out of order from someone that holds the club apparently so close to their hearts, but it doesn’t tarnish anything. For me his comments only seek to muddy his own reputation rather than anyone elses. Keane just comes across as bitter and stung by the fallout from his departure, and if anything it is he whose reputation is tarnished.
Nothing can take away from what Ferguson achieved at United. Keane is welcome to his opinion, but it should be judged accordingly. Maybe it is out of turn and misplaced but is this anything less than we really expected?
The documentary Keane and Vieira: Best of Enemies will be shown on Tuesday at 10pm on ITV4. It should prove to be compelling viewing as the former captains of Manchester United and Arsenal meet to discuss the days when their teams would fight, sometimes literally, for the Barclays Premier League title.