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Tired of the Lies: Keane vs Haaland

Haaland vs KeaneCristiano Ronaldo spoke out at the weekend about the poor treatment he gets from the referees in this country, claiming he will end up like Arsenal’s Eduardo, who suffered a broken leg, if the referees don’t offer him better protection.

United are the most fouled team in the league this season, despite the inaccuracies Arsene Wenger was trying to pass off as “facts” a few weeks ago, and our fans are used to seeing Ronaldo get kicked from pillar to post every match he plays. As the most fouled player in the Premiership last season, whose crippling challenges are met with cheers and jeers from the opposition fans, Ronaldo is right to feel as though the referees aren’t giving him enough protection. If they were, he wouldn’t repeatedly be fouled. If players who intentionally kicked at him and tripped him were dealt with appropriately, then we would see a decrease in the fouls committed against him.

However, on this blog and football forums, I have seen a lot of talk of Roy Keane and Alfe-Inge Haaland in response to United fans questioning the treatment of Ronaldo. It’s as if because our former captain, who left the club in 2005, was guilty of a horrendous challenge, that now United have no place to complain and worry about one of our players. In fact, that challenge from Keane than ended Haaland’s career is thrown back in our faces an awful lot. It makes me wonder what rival fans would have to throw at us if they knew the truth about Keane vs Haaland.

The Keane vs Haaland saga began in September 1997, when Keane injured his cruciate ligaments in a challenge with Haaland, who then played for Leeds United. As Keane lay in agony on the ground, Haaland leered over the player, shouting at him, accusing him of feigning injury.

Keane was left to wonder if he would ever play the game again. He missed out on the rest of the season. Without his leadership, United squandered their lead at the top of the table, allowing Arsenal to lift the Premiership trophy.

After a year of hard work, patiently putting in time on the training ground, Keane returned to the first team at the start of the 1998-1999 season and was instrumental in that Treble winning year.

However, Keane hadn’t got over Haaland’s remarks, with the idea of a player faking injury a topic which has irked Keane throughout his career. He responded furiously when fans in Ireland claimed on occasion that he was pretending to be injured to avoid International duty. To think that Roy had a whole season of no playing time, left to dwell on the words Haaland shouted at him, as he lay in agonising pain at Elland Road, goes some way to explaining what was to happen a few years later.Keane vs Haaland

In April 2001, it was derby day at Old Trafford, as United closed in on their third successive title win. United took the lead with twenty minutes to go, only for City to equalise six minutes from time. Two minutes after the equalising goal, Roy Keane was guilty of one of the ugliest scenes we’ve seen in Premiership football. Keane was on the ball, approaching the City box, and Haaland came in to make the challenge. No thoughts on the ball or the game, Keane stamped his studs in to Haaland’s knee. He was given a straight red, marking the end of his season.

There is no defence of Keane’s challenge, no excuses, no reasoning, just an explanation. The very thing Keane despised, Haaland accused Keane of, as he lay prostrated on the ground, wondering whether he would play football again. Keane spent four years waiting for his opportunity to meet Haaland again and it clearly looks as though he spent that entire time knowing he’d cause some damage when the reunion finally happened.

Now, I have no problem with the criticism directed at Keane for this challenge. He deserves criticism. If another player did that to one of ours, whatever the reason, we’d be livid, so the rules cannot change when it’s a red dishing out the challenge. However, what I do have a problem with is this repetitive talk that Keane “ended Haaland’s career”. That certainly could have been the result of a challenge like Keane’s, but it wasn’t.

The challenge took place on April 21st 2001, after a midday kick off. No doubt Haaland was in a great deal of pain and no doubt the replays show a player who would lucky to play the game again. However, just four days after the incident, Haaland played for Norway against Bulgaria, and was subbed at half time. Three days after this, so the following Premiership weekend after derby day, Haaland started for City against West Ham at Maine Road, in a 1-0 victory, courtesy of an own goal.

Haaland himself has admitted that it was an injury to his other knee which caused him to call it a day on his career, after Haaland played just a further four games for City in the following season, after the blues had been relegated.

There’s so much talk about dangerous challenges at the moment, with Sir Alex Ferguson slating referees’ boss Keith Hackett all season for not instructing his referees to deal with two footed challenges appropriately. This criticism continued at the weekend following a poor refereeing performance from Martin Atkinson in our defeat to Portsmouth in the Cup. Sixteen fouls were committed against United yesterday, with the refereeing deeming it necessary to book just two players. The most remarkable decision was to wave play on after Distin body checked Ronaldo, making no attempt to play in the ball inside the six yard box.

Roy Keane was dealt with appropriately in 2001, being handed a 5 match ban as well as a £150,000 fine. It is his challenge against Haaland, which most people inaccurately call a career ending challenge, that is reflected on constantly. Not a lot of attention is given to Michael Brown’s disgusting challenge on Giggs last season, which was given nothing more than a yellow card, but had all the potential of Keane’s challenge to be career ending. Equally, Michael Ball’s horror stamp against Ronaldo dropped out of the spotlight as soon as it arrived.

For as long as the FA allow players like Gallas to kick Nani with no consequence, dish out a regular three match ban, the same punishment for a player making a harmless but clumsy challenge as the last man, for disgustingly violent behaviour like Ball on Ronaldo, then we will continue to see players getting lumps kicked out of them. In reference to Hackett, Ferguson has correctly accused him of not doing his job. Hackett’s referees are allowing players to go around intentionally kicking and fouling others with no punishment to act as a deterrent.

Keane didn’t end Haaland’s career, but if every player who intentionally went out to hurt someone as Keane did, was dealt with in the same way Keane was, football fans, managers and players would certainly have less to fear and worry about.

What do you think about the current state of the FA?

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. 7Bestie7 says:

    You’re spot on with everything you’ve said here but the simple fact is we’re United and as such most of the times our legit cries for sense are ignored. People would much rather keep to their wrong beliefs than listen to the truth about the team and the club.

    The club/players aren’t angels, but it seems as if we are looked down upon much as if we were on par with the dirty Leeds team under Don Revie.

  2. jimmybob says:

    Leeds fans gloried in hunter bremner and giles sorting out the opposition and when guys like batty and vinnie jones did it, same with city and their carboard hard men like flitcroft barton and morrison etc
    but keane got singled out now theres a shock

  3. woodski says:

    What utter rubbish.
    If you had been at ELLAND road the night of the Keane injury you would know why Haaland was having a go at him.
    Keane deliberately tried to injure Haaland and it backfired and he ended up hurting himself.
    Haaland wasn’t accusing Keane of feigning injury. He was just telling him he deserved injury after trying to crock him.
    The reason Keane wanted to hurt Haaland goes back to earlier clashes when. Haaland got the better of Keane and he couldn’t take it.
    Like most man utd players he believed his own press.

  4. Scott the Red says:

    Woodski – so you were at Elland Road and heard what Haaland said to Keane did you? How you have the balls to come on a United blog telling me I’m talking “utter rubbish” merely because I’m reporting the only side that has even been published – Keane’s. That is what Roy said he was shouting. Do you have anything other than your imagination to go with the opposite?

  5. jimmy Bob says:

    haland had the better of keane lol aye right he did and gary kelly used to have giggs in his back pocket

    keep on telling yourself that and one day youll believe it ;)

  6. lovedale says:

    Didnt Carragher make a dreadful knee-high tackle on Rooney at Anfield last season, with Rooney getting injured in the process and Carragher escaping with a yellow?

  7. woodski says:

    Scott the red – bleat, bleat, bleat. The world owes you lots of favours. Well maybe the next favour is that Huddersfield Town go up to the Championship and you can go back to supporting them.
    I was just pointing out that Keane was injured when he tried to hurt Haaland. That was a little point you missed out of your ‘true’ story.
    Keane is malicious, just like Johnny Giles, except Giles was a world class player with it and Keane…well who will remember him in 20 years??

  8. Scott the Red says:

    Oh no, you didn’t fall in to the “no United fans are from Manchester” bullshit trap did you? Is it really inconceivable that arguably the biggest club in the World would have fans from the city its based in? Christ, go back to the 1990s if that’s the best response you can come up with.

    The point you made was that Haaland WASN’T shouting at Keane that he was feigning injury. “What utter rubbish. If you had been at ELLAND road the night of the Keane injury you would know why Haaland was having a go at him.” I take it you were at Elland Road and heard, is that why you made such a claim? Or are you realising that is a completely unfounded statement now? Is that why you’ve decided to change the emphasis on the point you’re trying to make?

    I suggest you take another look at how Keane got his injury if you thought he was trying to hurt Haaland. Keane vs Haaland in 2001 was him trying to hurt him. Keane vs Haaland in 1997 was him tripping him up. Not that tripping players up is OK, but it’s not malicious or an attempt to hurt a player. As I say, we know what Keane does when he’s trying to hurt someone.

    Now, don’t you have better things to do than post on a United blog? Run along :)

  9. king paul says:

    Watch the incident where Keane injures himself at Ellend Rd. It’s on YouTube so there’s no need for witnesses from the game to give their one sided testimony. Haaland said at most 3 or 4 words to Keane. And yet keane would have us believe Haaland was learing over him, accusing him of feigning injury. Haaland himself says he simply called Keane a wanker. Given that so few words were uttered, how are we to believe Keane’s version.

    Truth is, Keane is a deeply disturbed man. He is almost certainly paranoid and almost certainly a psychopath. He is certainly a sociopath. I disparity at ITVs use of him on tv. It’s disturbing to see a mental health victim being rolled out for laughs.

    Regardless of what was or wasn’t said, Keane clearly wrote what he wrote. There is no question at all that if thisnhad happened 10 years later, Keane would now be doing time for GBH.

  10. msec says:

    While no-one other than Keane and Haaland will ever know what was said, its pretty obvious on the video that Keane tries to foul Haaland. Several Leeds players immediatly appeal before Haaland even gets to Keane and it would be completely understandable at the time to assume Keane was attempting to get out of a booking by feigning injury (which, we now know, he wasn’t). My opinion is that Keane probably took out his ‘revenge’ simply to make himself feel better and conveniently it worked nicely for his ‘image’ and his autobiography sales. However, the long and short is that he started it and when it backfired he resorted to petty thuggery, putting his own perceived injustice and reputation before the needs of his own team. An awesome player, but not a nice human being and I would agree with the above, borderline sociopathic. Probably why he has failed so far as a manager.

  11. Yanito says:

    Dealt with appropriately?? Seriously??? If I walk up to you in the street and viciously stamp my boot into your knee as Keane did to Haaland you would quite rightly expect a prison sentence for me. The fact that it occurred on a football pitch in front of thousands of witnesses and was filmed from many angles strengthens the evidence of what was a crime. This was not a football foul, it was a criminal act. And Keane should have faced criminal charges. If the guy flipping burgers at McDonald’s leaped over the counter and attacked a customer in such manner he would have been sacked on the spot. Why did Man Utd not show that such behaviour was unacceptable by sacking him? The inescapable fact remains that if Roy Keane had played for any other club he would have been sent off dozens of times more than he was. But as EVERY football fan knows there is one set of rules for everyone else, and another set for Man U & Alex Ferguson.


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