“He is my best player. When you are talking about Manchester United 30 or 500 years from now, Roy Keane will be regarded as one of the greatest players ever at this club” – Sir Alex Ferguson, 2005.
And that’s how we shift our attention to Roy Keane and his love-hate relationship with the greatest ever Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Keane in his latest autobiography “The Second half” has revealed the details what led him to leave Manchester United in 2005. A training ground bust-up with Ferguson and and his assistant Carlos Queiroz made his Old Trafford exit inevitable, claims Keane.
“He was just on my right shoulder; how I didn’t fucking hit him again – I was thinking, ‘The villa in Portugal, not treating me well in training – and he just used the word “loyalty” to me,” said Keane about Queiroz.
“I said, ‘Don’t you fucking talk to me about loyalty, Carlos. You left this club after 12 months a few years ago for the Real Madrid job. Don’t you dare question my loyalty. I had opportunities to go to Juventus and Bayern Munich.’ And while we’re at it we spoke about training downstairs. And were just on about mixing things up in training a bit.”
Things got out of control when Ferguson stepped in and lend his support to his assistant: “That’s enough. I’ve had enough of all this”, which prompted the midfielder to round on his manager, replying: “You as well gaffer. We need fucking more from you. We need a bit more, gaffer. We’re slipping behind other teams.,”
Keane was fined £5,000 for an explosive interview on MUTV, but when he was dropped from a reserve game, he knew his time is up at Old Trafford.
He continued: “I said to Ferguson, ‘Can I play for somebody else?’ And he said, ‘Yeah you can, cos we’re tearing up your contract’. So I thought, ‘All right – I’ll get fixed up.’ I knew there’d be clubs in for me when the news got out. I said, ‘Yeah – I think we have come to the end.’ I just thought, ‘Fucking prick’ – and I stood up and went ‘Yeah. I’m off.”
Ferguson in his autobiography has revealed why he took the decision to let Keane go. He wrote: “I believe that Roy Keane’s behaviour pattern changed when he realised he was no longer the Roy Keane of old.
“Acting on a conviction that some of his strengths had been stolen from him by injury and age we tried to change his job description. I think he could see the truth of what we were saying to him, but to surrender to it was too damaging to his pride.”
In what way you see, the incident only shows how tough a manager Ferguson was. He could go to any extreme, and had taken tough decisions in his career which he felt is best for the club. United at that time was going through a rebuilding phase and Ferguson probably felt Keane’s explosive behaviour might leave a bad impact on younger players coming into the side.
One cannot help but admire Ferguson’s strong personality. Not every manager in the world has the guts to show his long-serving-successful captain the door.
It is futile to argue who is right and who is wrong here because we will never get to know what exactly happened. Everyone has their own version and likewise stories are interpreted differently.
But keeping things simple, we can deduce that Ferguson no longer valued Keane as his most important player and got rid of him when he felt necessary.
Keane will forever be remembered as one of the greatest player and a legend of Manchester United and his personal relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, no matter how bitter it has turned out to be, won’t hamper his cult status at Old Trafford.