Andy Goram came to Manchester United on loan during the 2000-2001 to help us out during a time when our other goalies, Fabien Barthez and Raimond Van der Gouw, were unavailable – Barthez on duty with the French side and Van der Gouw struggling with injury.
His first game was our 4-2 win over Coventry in the league although was subbed off with an hour played with the scoreline at 2-2. Van der Gouw also replaced Goram in his second match with less than an hour played in our 2-1 defeat to Southampton. Given that we were ten points clear on the final day of the season, the result mattered little.
Goram has got an autobiography out and has revealed what his time was like at United, with details about events on the training ground as well as the conversation he had with Ferguson about signing, which started with him putting the phone down on our manager!
Shark’s eyes. Dead, devoid of emotion, glaring at me. No handshake. Welcome to Manchester United. Roy Keane-style. The man who saw himself as the heartbeat of the Reds was giving me a message. He just looked right through me as the embarrassed Steve McClaren, the United No 2, tried to introduce the new on-loan keeper to his volcanic captain. From that second I knew there was no point in me making an effort with Keane. Roy had things he stood by, things that framed his life, beliefs he clung to with a burning intensity. Well, I had mine. What he did to me on that first morning at work at the most famous football club in the world didn’t faze me. It didn’t send me scurrying into my shell. I just thought: ‘F*** it. He’s not going to stop me enjoying this.’ He was a Celtic man, I was a Rangers man. He didn’t like me. End of story. Fair enough. After all, I’d done enough to make some Celtic fans dislike me in seven years at Ibrox. There was to be no handshake. Ever.
The truth is we didn’t exchange a civil word in the three months I was at Old Trafford. From day one we had arguments on the training pitch and didn’t get on. It was serious stuff. He hated the sight of me. However, I was 36 years old. I’d landed the move of my life in the twilight of my career. Was I going to let one man’s sneering disdain for me wreck the experience? Forget it.
There were clashes between us. One day in training, we were playing a game of eight-a-side, and Keane and Luke Chadwick were up front for my team. I always prided myself on the accuracy of my kicking, on being able to pick out a player from a distance, and that day I half-volleyed a peach right onto Chadwick’s foot. The kid snatched at it and ballooned his volley over the bar. Suddenly, I was the target of a volley of abuse from Keane.
’Hey you, give me the f*****g ball,’ he screamed.
I replied: ‘What, do you get the ball just cos you’re Roy Keane? F*** off.’
The atmosphere was icy from that moment on and on the way off the field Gary Neville collared me.
’Goalie,’ he said, ‘we don’t talk to Roy like that down here. We just don’t.’
It was a telling insight for me. I respected Keane as a player, but I couldn’t have that. As far as I was concerned, the way he spoke to some of the players was bang out of order. Many of them were clearly shit-scared of him.
Goram has also retold the story of events which lead up to his loan deal with United in which he amusingly hung up the phone on Sir Alex Ferguson.
When I had three months of my contract left, they let it be known that I wouldn’t be offered another one. I was knackered. Miriam and I were together at the time and she was driving me to training one day when my phone rang. Coisty. It was 9.30am and I thought he must be coming in from a night on the batter. Ally never phones you in the morning. We blethered, and I shrugged it off and went into training.
Then at lunchtime on the way home the phone rang again. Walter Smith. He was manager of Everton at the time and warned me to keep my phone on because someone was going to ring me.
‘What is it, gaffer? You got a job for me?’ I asked. ‘Just keep your fucking phone on,’ he growled.
Now I was starting to wonder what was going on. I suspected I was about to get the piss taken out of me. Two minutes later, the phone rang again.
‘Goalie, it’s Alex Ferguson here. We’ve got Bayern Munich on Wednesday and Liverpool at the weekend. Barthez is injured and Raimond van der Gouw is struggling. I need you to come down on loan until the end of the season.’
I said: ‘Coisty, fuck off’. And put the phone down. Ally could do Sir Alex perfectly. I wasn’t falling for that old one. The phone rang again and I told Miriam to answer it this time.
’Miriam, this is Alex Ferguson, and you can tell that fat bastard he’s got ten seconds to say aye or naw.’
It really was him. I thought I was dreaming. I’d been playing football for 20 years, and there had been many great moments. But I don’t think many come close to that call from Sir Alex Ferguson.