Many Manchester United fans would claim that Roy Keane is the greatest captain the club has ever had. His end to the time at the club left a sour taste in the mouth but his name is still sung regularly at Old Trafford, reflecting how fondly the fans felt and still feel towards him.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader, Keane has spoken about his time at United and his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson.
I was asked who was the better manager by a guy looking for an angle and I said Brian Clough. Brian Clough gave me a chance, it wasn’t a case of me knocking Alex Ferguson. I had a great time at Nottingham Forest. Is Ronaldo better than Messi? They are both brilliant players and they were two great managers.
Everything about Man Utd suited my character – it was a reflection of me and Alex Ferguson was [a reflection of me]. We have both said that since we fell out – we were both very similar and that can eventually burn out.
I enjoyed every minute I was there. If you are there for 10 to 12 years you are going to win trophies as sure as night follows day. People say to me, ‘You dragged the team along, you were the winner, you were determined’. Believe me, all the players at Man United were the exact same.
Maybe I showed it differently, maybe I was more vocal – 99.9% was sheer encouragement. My job [as a senior player and captain] was to push people, push buttons. There are going to be tensions, tension is a good thing, I like tension. Sometimes you fall out with people in a good way because you are challenging each other. I’d love to meet people who have been in a dressing room with no disagreements. I was learning my trade and these responsibilities came to me slowly.
Do you think I would survive if I was some kind of headcase going to work everyday? I think everybody thought I was shouting at the lady in the canteen!
Keane had the reputation of giving his teammates a hard time in training. One famous anecdote is when Dwight Yorke signed for the club, Keane deliberately kicked the ball too hard at him. “Welcome to United,” he said. “Cantona used to kill them.”
Our former captain claims that he wasn’t all bad and that training hard is vital part of success.
All the criticism I got, ‘Roy was murder in training, always pushing people’. Such a crime that isn’t it? I won’t sleep tonight. I read about the All-Blacks, the great Kilkenny hurling teams, when Munster are good – they all say the training is crazy, it’s harder than any match, that’s the way it should be. That’s always been my belief – you train how you play.
I’ve played with great players – Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, they never took it easy. I asked the French players what is Zidane like, a brilliant player. They said he was brilliant every day in training.