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Keano: Captains Like Bruce And Cantona Didn’t Have An Ego

Roy Keane, who won more trophies with United than any other captain, has talked about the importance of captains. Looking back to the likes of Pearce, Bruce and Robson, Keane was impressed with how little ego they had about their role and instead their focus on setting a good example to their team mates.

“I think it is an important role,” said Keane. “We have seen headlines over the last few moths particularly about the England set-up. What I always enjoyed with the captains I played under, that would be Stuart Pearce when I was at Forest or Andy Townsend at Ireland or Steve Bruce, Eric Cantona and Brian Robson, they were great captains in a sense that they did not make an issue out of it. They were not on an ego trip. They would take it on board of course when you are at the bigger clubs. You have got to win trophies and you have to be an example when you train, the way you play, your commitment to the team and there are off the field activities particularly when you are at a big club. At United it would have been the media commitments sorting out tickets, it might sound like trivia but sorting out tickets for family, Christmas parties. There are big commitments for the captain at Manchester United I have to say, but as long as you don’t take your eye off the ball in terms of what you are about and that is a player, being a good leader on the training pitch and obviously when you are travelling helping foreign players and their families. I was comfortable with doing that. But of course it was no good doing all of that and not turning up on a Saturday and saying ‘I have had a busy week looking after the crèche.’ You still have to play well and the players have got to see that as well, not getting side tracked by anything and thinking it is more than it is. You are still there to be a player and to be a top player and I found that as I said about Stuart Pearce. When I came over from Ireland he was the captain of England. He was the best player every day in training. There was no nonsense. He was not obsessed with the media, the money, cars. It was all about what he stood for in the dressing room. He took no nonsense, people think a captain has got to be mates with people, you don’t. You just have to have the respect of your team mates and you earn that on the training ground. However supporters only see you once a week on a match day. However, when you work with people every day of the week, that is when you get the respect.”

Keane reflected on his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson when he was captain but doesn’t think that captains are necessarily chummy with the manager.

“People have this image of me when I was at United that I was in someway closer to the manager than other players but it was not the case,” he continued. “There has to be an element of trust from the captain to the manager, be it organising training so the manager can let the captain get on with it. There would not be any cosy chats or meeting for cups of tea or anything like that. I think there is possibly a lot of trust involved that the manager knows that the captain is taking care of things. Not just the captain but the senior players are looking after things in the dressing room. We had a very good dressing room at United and if senior players felt some of the younger boys were not training with the right attitude it would be taken care of in the dressing room. What you find with a lot of the managers it is almost a case of baby sitting players. But in a good strong dressing room with players such as Cantona, Paul Ince, Brian Robson and Steve Bruce we would not let ourselves get away with it. Don’t get me wrong we enjoyed ourselves but we did not tolerate anything but giving our best.”

For more insight from Roy Keane and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to

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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  1. Arjunited says:

    aren’t we missing a character like him on the pitch? such species are almost extinct. Keano \m/

  2. nksimp says:

    keano ftw!

  3. TK99 says:

    I miss Keano (on the pitch) so fucking much.

  4. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Brilliant views from our former Captain. Really well said on subject of captains.

    NOTE: Please cc a copy of this to
    i Patrice Evra
    ii. Rio Ferdinand
    iii. Phil Jones (for future reference)

    One senses that Vidic and Giggs have no need to read it as it is part of their DNA. :cool:

  5. Zombie Cucumber says:

    Great picture.

  6. WillieRedNut says:

    Keano = Legend

  7. Ancha says:


    I second that!

    LEGEND! second to only Bryan Robson!

  8. MyCowIsTheBest says:

    @fletchtheman yup i agree with you.

    Keano maybe is the last of that rare species

  9. smartalex says:

    Keano = Legend

    You have my number Roy, use it at your discretion.
    Whenever, whatever, always.

  10. King Eric says:

    Two bob fucking article cannot even spell Robbo’s christian name correctly.

  11. King Eric says:

    Sadly in this day of non contact football Keano wouldnt last two minutes.

  12. WillieRedNut says:

    Could’ve been worse, Brenda Robson?

  13. King Eric says:

    Willie – Ha. Brenda!

  14. YorYor says:

    Cantona just didn’t feel a need to massage his ego. His ego is masked by his narcissistic nature.

  15. Ugandan Red says:

    Keane and SAF, meeting for a cup of tea… Now that would be a tea time conversation i would love to see

  16. onside says:

    Wasn’t Keane the ‘captain’ who shoved his own player (Phil Neville) during a match against Sunderland then proceeded to get himself sent off for elbowing McAteer when we were chasing a late winner?

  17. onside says:

    A real captain with no ego would never walk out on his men as they are about to embark on a might World Cup challenge. A real captain would put his ego to the side and help his men and his country, rather than turn his back on them.

  18. onside says:

    As much as I hate Haaland, there is no excuse for what our captain did to him during the derby match. It did not reflect well on the club then nor when he boasted about it in his hypocritical book. They banned him for a few months but it was not enough.

  19. onside says:

    If you are looking for genuine United captains, look at Harry Stafford, Charlie Roberts, Roger Byrne, Johhny Carey, Bryan Robson. These are true, ego-free, club-oriented captains.

  20. WillieRedNut says:

    You’re way offside with those comments. A real captain would step up for his team in a semi final of the CL? Oh wait……he done that? He shoved Phil Neville? Big deal. As RedNev has always said, do you want him in your team every week? A resounding yes! Him walking out on Ireland took alot of guts. Anyone who knows Keano, would know he’s a proud Irishman. I’m sure there’s a part of him, that regrets what happened. Hence, he played for the Republic again. The Haaland challenge can’t be condoned by any United fan. And while I think Haaland was baiting Keane in the papers leading up to the derby game in question, you can’t excuse Keane’s challenge. Cantona lost control at Palace and jumped into the crowd. Two unsavory moments. Roy Keane was a genuine United club captain. To try and say otherwise is fucking ridiculous.

  21. mara says:

    Keano he had a right attitude. He had great mentality. like Saf once said. players today.are weaker, softer…like pussys

  22. WillieRedNut says:

    I like pussy though?

  23. smartalex says:


    Your all-encompassing hatred for Roy is so vehemently and repeatedly stated that it is abundantly clear that you are a bitter, selfish, nasty, plastic fan. Your multi-pronged but one-sided attack exposes your unbalanced view and demands correction.

    You are grossly INCORRECT to expect or define a ‘real Captain’ as one who has no flaws.

    You are puerile to launch an anti-Roy attack on a thread where Roy is extolling the virtues of previous Captains he has experienced. His extremely rare experience and proven leadership renders his views invaluable, especially to us thirsty United lovers on RoM. Your bitter, one-sided attack is uncalled for.

    When comparing your definitions of a ‘real captain’ with Roy’s intelligent views it is easy to see why he is our most decorated Captain, and you are an irrelevant troll.

  24. onside says:


    I am glad you exercised your right to criticise me, much like I had used my right to criticize keane.

    I am also glad you have picked Keane as someone you like and you want to defend, much like I would stick up for players that I have affinity for. I am sure there have been players down the years that you did not think too highly of, just as I have my own list.

    I am not too bothered by you calling me a plastic fan for I know that I have loved United longer than you have been alive.

    Now, if you wish to have a decent argument about Keane, you will notice that I did not criticize him as a player. He does however fail as a human being. I am sure that, deep down, you agree with me. Whether you can get yourself to admit it depends about how much of a man you are.

  25. gazzer says:

    I have no dog in this fight, but Onside is a jackass for saying that someone who doesnt agree with him is not a man. People give away a lot about themselves by what they say. In this case, Onside is a jackass, and I’m someone who can’t resist pointing out a jackass when he sees one

  26. smartalex says:


    It is you that wants to have an argument about Keano, not me.

    I did not chose Keane as someone I like.
    He was chosen by United, my love naturally followed.

    It is completely unnecessary of you to attack United Legends, especially on a thread where said Legend is complimenting other United Legends and generally being affable while being informatively interesting.

    That you love someone else more is your business, you do not need to sully our Legends.

    Now you are not satisfied with your own declarations of Roy’s ‘failures’
    You are trying to goad me into expressing Anti-Roy thoughts.
    On the very thread that I clearly wish to remain free of attacks on United Legends.

    That is selfish and vile. Abhorrent behaviour.

    Do not try to convince me that your favourite Legends are better than anyone else’s.
    Do not try to get me to attack United Legends.

    However long you have been claiming to be a United supporter, it is becoming very apparent that your support includes turning United fans against United Legends.


  27. onside says:


    Obviously you are the self-appointed, self-righteous defender of all things on this site.

    Please tell me where were you when every cunt here as absolutely slagging off Wayne Rooney last season when he wanted off. Did you go around to all your little friends and tell them that they are plastic fans and selfish and vile, etc?

    When Gibson was hounded off Twitter by your “United” friends, did you accuse them of “purile attacks” on a United player? You probably laughed loudly, you probably were one of those hounding him, weren’t you?

    Please tell me what did you do when this whole site blasted Kuszczak for some errors in translation just a few weeks ago. I was here defending him, funnily I didn’t hear a peep out of your self-righteous little mouth.

    None of these players did anything as bad as Keane did when he degraded FIVE United players on TV. Five of his team-mates no less, including Smith who broke his ankle for us, and Fletcher who played through a disease for us.

    Ferguson surely was so digusted he immediately shipped Keane off in a cunt-shaped special box reserved for cunts called Roy Keane.

    That is the truth regarding Keane, and it also shows the ignorant blind devotion you have to him that keeps you happy every night in the dark.

  28. smartalex says:


    I have never attacked any United player or Legend. Not ever.

    I have never ignored unfair criticism of a United player or Legend. Not ever.

    I have never laughed at any attack on a United player or Legend. Not ever.

    Never ever.

    What I have done, is always supported United and our players faithfully.

    You question where I was when United players needed my defense. I was defending them.

    Your horrible accusations and taunts are false.
    Worse than that, they are completely baseless.

    You made them up in a pathetic attempt to distract from your poor behavior.
    Weak, very weak.

    You claim to have started supporting United before I was born. Why did you stop?

  29. WillieRedNut says:

    Onside has just outed himself as a Keane hater. Linking him to Fletch and Smith’s illness and broken leg is ridiculous. Have an opinion on the man, but don’t start making stuff up, because you don’t like Roy Keane. Your last 2 paragraphs tell me everything I need to know about you. You call Keane a cunt, then go on and talk like one. You couldn’t keep it civil. Hence, the vitriol. Keano is certainly no angel. I would never argue that point. When people start acting like moral guardians, that’s when I have a problem. Unless you’re a monk, and live a sinless life, don’t judge others please.

  30. smartalex says:

    Discussing United players and Legends is fun.

    Issuing broad and unprovoked attacks on United Legends is not acceptable.

    I do not accept it.

    There are millions of United fans, and quite a few Legends.
    No one wants to hear their Legends abused.

    This is a United forum. Let’s respect United, respect our players, respect our Legends.
    We don’t have to rank them argumentatively.

    No one is forcing anyone to love our Legends.
    No one should stop anyone from loving our Legends either.


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