Having spent most of his United career as Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man, when Keane approached the end of his career he mistakenly thought that his worth to the manager was as great as when he was at the peak of his career. Keane learnt the hard way how cut-throat football, and Ferguson to a certain extent, can be. After repeatedly coming to blows with Carlos Queiroz, Keane was told he was no longer needed by the club, when he had probably expected the manager to take his side. Queiroz still had lots to offer United though, as he proved when helping steer us to European glory in 2008, whilst Keane’s influence was on the wane.
It is totally understandable that this situation hurt Keane and left him feeling fairly bitter towards the manager. The club threatened him with legal action after he criticised the way the club handled his exit, leading Keane to decline the invitation to attend Ferguson’s 25th anniversary meal and, more recently, the statue unveiling.
Keane has repeatedly insisted that he holds no bitterness towards United, despite a break down in the relationship with his former boss, and that all his family are still United fans.
“I count my blessings to have played for Manchester United,” he said in 2011. “All my family are United fans and I don’t have any bitterness towards Man United, please let’s make that clear.”
However, whilst Keane might not have any bitterness towards United, whose fans still sing his name on a regular basis, it’s clearly hard for him to separate having a pop at the club with having a pop at Ferguson.
After Nani was ridiculously sent off last night, Keane went on a rant about how Nani was at fault and deserved the red card, whilst also getting in a few digs about the Portuguese winger being a bit of a soft lad.
“I think the referee has actually made the right call,” Keane said after the game. “Everyone’s upset about it and it’s slightly unlucky, but it’s dangerous play. Whether he meant it or not is irrelevant. It’s dangerous play – it’s a red card. Whether he meant it or not doesn’t matter.”
If Keane seriously felt as though that challenge/attempt to control the ball was a straight red, it makes you wonder how he sees his own career. It’s quite incredible that he managed to make it through 90 minutes on a weekly basis.
Paddy Crerand has reacted furiously to Keane’s stance on the issue and has resorted to taking a pop at him for missing the European Cup final in 1999.
“Roy Keane was in a minority of one,” Crerand said. “Nobody else thinks it was a sending off apart from him. Does Keane want to be noticed? Or is he envious or jealous? Has he got the needle with Manchester United because of what happened to him here? Why are we talking about Roy Keane? What about the other 99.9 per cent of people who said it wasn’t as sending off? Let me tell you… I played for Manchester United. I played in a European Cup final. Roy didn’t.”
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Everyone has their idea of what a red card challenge looks like. Whilst it may be Keane’s opinion that Nani should have been sent off, the Laws of the game say otherwise.
FIFA Law 12: If a player plays in a dangerous manner in a “normal” challenge, the referee should not take any disciplinary action. If the action is made with obvious risk of injury the referee should caution the player.
Keane is getting paid a lot of money to be a pundit, after his failed managerial career, so it shouldn’t be too much to ask that he actually knows the rules of the game before he gives his opinion, should it?
Keane is a United legend, a truly inspirational captain, and a player who we still haven’t managed to replace in the eight years since he left, but it’s sad to see him make a fool out of himself. If he wants to have a pop at Ferguson, meet him after the game and have a laugh at the decision. To go on national television and spout a load of nonsense, that contradicts what the Laws of the game actually say, should be beneath him. Sort it out, Roy.
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