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Keane Speaks Of What A Captain Should Be… In Light Of Arsenal Ex-Skipper’s Remarks

Roy Keane was a superb captain, something which is undeniable to even those that hate the man. His ability was never the greatest on the field, but his passion, desire and commitment outweighed anything his team mates and usually opposition had to offer.

“He did not have the ability of someone like Eric Cantona or Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes but he had this fire in his stomach which gets them there,” said Sir Alex Ferguson last year. “He was not the quickest player but he was always first to the ball. In terms of sheer influence, he was the best player I have ever had.”

We couldn’t have asked for better than Keano, but he left the club under a cloud, only to return months later for his testimonial, saying goodbye to the fans and making his peace with Ferguson.

With great passion and determination, there will usually come a wicked temper, something we have seen in several of our best players. It was that temper which cost Keane his position within our club.

“Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are a superstar,” ranting Keane in the interview that was pulled before airing on MUTV, following the 4-1 defeat at Middlesbrough. “The younger players have been let down by some of the more experienced players. They are just not of characters in the team. It seems to be in this club that you have to play badly to be rewarded. Maybe that is what I should do when I come back. Play badly.”

Keane had let a few home truths be known over the years at United, particularly after the Treble winning season when some players seem to take their foot off the gas. He had always been on his team mates back, enforcing they always strove for perfection. The MUTV interview back in 2005 was no different, accept this time there was a chance of the public getting their hands on it.

“I wasn’t surprised by the result I had been expecting one like this,” he continued. “The players have been asked questions and they are just not coming up with the answers. I am sick of having to say it and they are sick of listening to me. They have let down the club, the manager, and the fans. When they sign the contracts, they think they have made it. They owe it to the manager, the staff and the fans.”

At the time and to this day, I do not think it was Roy Keane’s place to attack the players in the way he did. On the front of Red Issue that week, the picture showed Ferguson and Keane, the manager with a speech bubble saying “You shouldn’t have said those things,” to which Keane responded, “No, you should!” Whilst I see the importance of a captain, they are not in a position to start slating their team mates in public. Keane got ideas above his station, although I understand his position came from the frustration of seeing United fail. His best years were behind him, he knew he didn’t have much time left in him with his knackered hips, but he wanted the best for Manchester United.

He has today responded to questions about Gallas’ decision to slag off his team mates to a tabloid, which have seemingly lead to the captaincy being taken from him. Whilst Keane was looking out for his club, Gallas is only concerned with number one.

“I am trying to defend myself a bit without giving names,” Gallas said. “Otherwise I’m taking it all (the blame). It’s very frustrating,”

We first saw his selfishness at Birmingham, laying in to Gael Clichy after he gave away a penalty, then leaving his team mates to it, marching to the half way line. Had the keeper made a save and the rebound put away the man Gallas should have been marking, maybe the Arsenal fans would have seen their captain’s behaviour as crazy as everyone else.

As the team mates rushed off for news on Eduardo’s injury, captain Gallas remained on the pitch, crying by himself.

Speaking from experience, Keane gave his opinion on the Gallas situation.

“I used to quite a bit,” Keane said when asked if Gallas was wrong to criticise. “But there are ways of doing it.” Obviously implying that speaking to a nationwide rag that will twist and dramatise everything you say isn’t the best way to go.

“You just hope you have a strong dressing room,” Keane continued. “You hope you have a few captains in your dressing room to take care of things. I was lucky in my playing days that we had some strong characters and we used to deal with what ever was going on in the dressing room. If I was missing something, which I very rarely did, then there was another couple of players to spot things. A good dressing room and a good captain can make the manager’s job easier. Everyone has the right to say what they feel every now and again and if it upsets people, so what? People are too easily upset these days.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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    it could just be me but i dont see keanes departure as him leaving under a cloud but rather helping united realise some facts that SAF may have turned a blind eye too. SAF has said he felt the hardest time in his career was when he realised he had to start looking to replace his golden generation of “kids”, while our exit from the UCL group stages may be seen as our major turning point i believe keanes comments had been echoing in SAF ear and it was only after that disappointment he said “i really have to start building a new team” (the main pieces were there rio, rooney and ronaldo), the following transfer window we got evra and vidic, that following summer we got carrick and offloaded some of the troble makers and “lesser” players. well after that the rest is history.

    i think thats the difference between gallas and keane, keane said those comments to spur the club on, gallas said his comments to divert any blame that was coming his way due to poor performances. keane had to go after those comments because he was lauching a attack on SAF, and thats not right but i do think SAF had listened to him and well look at us now

  2. Jonny says:

    Please don’t compare Gallas to Keane. Gallas may be a spectacular twat but at the very least he never attempts to end another fellow professional’s career over a fucking playground argument.

  3. Red-Manc says:


  4. TonyBee says:

    Keano was without duobt one of the most inspirational skippers we have ever had …. could tackle like a fucking lion and hated the fucking gooner gayboys with a fucking vehemence…. to compare Keano with the sulky crybaby gobshite cunt just sacked is a bordering on in-fucking-sanity.
    Eh up Failsworth, drop some pain killers and get on with ranting…

  5. SteRDLK says:

    THIS_IS_MANCHESTER you are spot on.

    Fergie doesn’t take any bullshit, but if Keano woulda said that a couple of years earlier, would we have gotten rid of him then?

    Fergie probably took on Keano’s criticisms quietly, and it got us to where we are today. Just hope he sort Ronaldo and Nani out and we will be even better.

  6. bossdem says:


  7. SULLY [South Africa] says:

    Its what great captains are made of. Keano separates the men from the boys. A cult hero. ROY FUCKIN’ KEANE.

  8. john ferry says:

    I almost feel sorry for Wenger. He really doesn’t have other players on that squad that can take a stand and lead the team, when an idiot like gallas is making a mess of things in the locker room. Is anyone surprised by gallas’s actions ? It was only a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if.’
    Keane had other natural leader that could step in and handle things (and take his harsh criticism). There is no comparing Keano’s Manchester United to today s arsenal. Similarly, there is no comparing Keane to ga(y)llas. Could you imagine Keane marching to the half way line in the middle of a penalty kick ?
    Then again who knows whats going on at Arsenal. Maybe, gallas is confronting the players-and doing it wrong (making little girly fabregas feel bad), when maybe it should be Wenger.


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