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What Happened To The Keane Of Old?

The 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough was arguably one of the most embarrassing moments United have endured over the last ten years or so. We got absolutely battered that day at the Riverside and certainly didn’t deserve the consolation goal Cristiano Ronaldo scored at the death.

The following day, there was talk in the tabloids of a Roy Keane interview being pulled from MUTV, where apparently he tore a strip off the players following their poor performance. This would eventually be seen as the interview that leto our great captain leaving the club.

Whilst we can still see elements of that man in his management, with the harsh decision to deny his players of conducting a lap of honour on the final day of last season, it seems in other areas he is softening.

First he had Kieran Richardson to answer for, now Darren Fletcher?

“I’m well aware of what a good player and a good lad he is,” Keane said after signing Richardson. “He’s ready for a fresh challenge and we can provide that.”

Now, this is the same Kieran Richardson who was amongst the players Keane singled-out as being a waste of space at United. “He is a lazy defender who deserved to get punished,” Keane said in that banned interview, in reference to the penalty Richardson gave away. “He wasn’t doing his job.”

This is the same Richardson who, as legend has it, was held up by the scruff of the neck by Roy Keane in the dressing room, after bragging to his team mates about the new Bentley he had ordered. Richardson cancelled the order for the car.

Roy Keane paid us £5.5 million for this waster, who had become strongly disliked at United. He was booed by sections of the crowd upon scoring for United in the semi-finals of the FA Cup in his last season, as well as when he lifted the Premier League trophy.

Today, it has been reported in the press that Roy Keane has failed in a £4 million offer for Darren Fletcher, another on Keane’s hit list, and is preparing a new £5 million bid.

Back in 2005, I imagine Keane never could have imagined himself to be in such a position, when managing a Premier League club.

“I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher,” Keane said in his MUTV interview following the Boro game.

Since taking over the Sunderland position, Keane’s signings have typically been Irish or ex-United players, so in that sense, it would be no surprise if he really gone tried to land Fletcher. However, I can’t help but feel like Keano is compromising himself a tad.

After Keane’s rant, United took on Chelsea at home, where Fletcher scored the winning goal in what had previously seemed to be an impossible match for United. Maybe Keane appreciates Fletcher’s ability to respond to criticism, or maybe, and probably more likely, he has had to lower his standards.

Keane is striving to show he means business and won’t accept any crap, which are the ideas and mentality which he formed as a young player, then later reinforced by 13 years working under Sir Alex Ferguson.

“The players will walk around the pitch after the game but I wouldn’t class it as a lap of honour, far from it,” he said at the end of last season. “It is important that we show our appreciation to the fans. I’ve said before, there’s nothing to celebrate it will be a salute to the supporters, who have been magnificent again this year.”

However, Keane is possibly recognising that what isn’t good enough for Manchester United, may just be good enough for Sunderland. He is swallowing his pride and getting on with it, which is admirable, and something he probably wouldn’t have been able to deal with just five years ago or so.

Keane has changed, is changing, but it seems to be for the better. And he could do a lot worse than signing someone like Fletcher to prop up his midfield!

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. Jak says:

    Actually, Scott, his players did make a lap of honour at the Stadium of Light, with their children, on the final home day (after he threatened to deny them after their poor performances).

    Now, as far as his transfers, he is having difficulty attracting players to Sunderland, so there is something of an air of desperation now in some of his bids.

    And frankly, players who were not good enough for United (Richardson, Bardsley) may be good enough for a team that finished in 15th place.

    And finally, about Darren, since when did we believe much of what the newspapers say about transfer targets?

    Roy was sent off in their game last night against Sporting Lisbon, so the old Keano is still quite intact. And Kieran played pretty well, actually.

  2. Jak says:

    Whoops – sorry, I posted my first comment without seeing your last few paragraphs (for some reason, they weren’t showing up.)

  3. Gary says:

    Scott you write brilliant articles and the website is fantastic. But I do notice favourtism in your articles and your clearly a big Keano fan like myself. I just dont understand why you failed to mention his comments surrounding the Ronaldo situation, in which Keane said Ronaldo is doing nothing wrong and should be aloud to leave because the club shows no loyalty to players so he shouldnt be made to be loyal to us. I just find that far more offensive then what Beckham said, and I just feel them articles about Beckham were completely unfair! Im dissalusioned how United fans can claim Beckham’s not a true red. It seems Keane can say what he wants but not Beckham.

  4. Stephen says:

    I love Keano as a player but as a top premiership manager I have my doubts, his transfer dealings bar Jones were awful last season. But I suppose he is still learning the job.

  5. Scott the Red says:

    Gary – Roy Keane didn’t grow up as a United fan. He was a complete professional, gave 100% to United, seemingly loved our club (to the best of our knowledge) but he wasn’t a red in the sense that Beckham is, or is supposed to be. Keane isn’t referred to as “a United fan”, David Beckham is, so from that point of view, they can’t really be compared by the same standards.

    I’m not going to change your mind on Beckham, that’s cool. I’m sure you can think of plenty die hard United fans who’d pass up a lifelong career at United because of their want for better image rights. Personally though, I can’t ;)

  6. Red Ranter says:

    There is another thing about Keano. He is willing to revise his opinions on players. The Fletcher presently is far better than the Fletcher he ripped. Although he hasn’t particularly progress from his early promise. But then again, how many do that!

  7. Gary says:

    Fair point Scott. I think its unfair to say tho that Beckham left United over image rights. He had already signed a contract in May 2002 because I remember he was paraded on the pitch at home to Charlton because he was revovering from a broken foot, so he didnt leave over contract rows. Beckham himself and more so Victoria felt the need to promote themselfs all over the place and thats what tried Fergie’s patience and his patience ran out because Beckham had a circus following him where ever he went. Beckham still didnt want to leave United, but Fergie was right to out him. At the end of the day my big question is would you give him a good reception if he ever returned to Old Trafford in any sort of form? I certainly would and I would be dissapointed if the United fans didnt give him a good reception.

  8. Scott the Red says:

    Gary – sorry, but your memory is deceiving you, because Becks certainly didn’t sign a contract with us just a year before leaving.

    Read this.

    And Becks got a great reception at OT when he returned for the European XI game the season before last. I respect him for everything he did at United, but I refuse to buy in to the fact he bleeds United like some fans would like to think.

  9. Gary says:

    Sorry Scott but I am 100 per cent right. Beckham signed a new deal with United in May 2002 just a year before leaving. He was recovering from his broken foot suffered against Deportivo at home and he came onto the pitch with Fergie in our last home game of the season just a day or so after signing a new deal.

    Yea I was aware he got a good reception at that game. The thing was that was our regular Old Trafford crowd at that game, there were alot of kids and a midweek game wasnt ideal so alot of season ticket holders must have given it a miss like myself. Your right his heart doesnt bleed United red throught and through like Gary Neville, but he certainly holds United with far more affection then he does Madrid. Anyway we both made our points, entitled to our opinions on Beckham.

  10. suhayl says:

    your last 2 paragraphs sum it up…

    KEANO was right…they werent and arent good rnuf for utd…he was right to let rip.

    but now he is at another level of football and standard and finances and achieving things…so these players that are out of their depth at our place ARe good enuf for sunderland.

    That isnt softening..thats just accepting the truth…that for exmaple in your final year of uni you need all the best tools and work ethic…in your first year you can get away with those tolls and work ethic….

    Richardson and fletcher are of sunderlands atandard…keano is wise enuf to know that.

    That doesnt mean he still doesnt think they are and were shit at united..cause they re not good enuf for us

  11. jimmy Bob says:

    Keane was a great player but his scouting seems confined to the prem lge league of ireland and the mid level of the SPL

    As for Fletcher imo he is good enough to be at least a squad member here and he has played well for us in big games, plus he has a great attitude i wish people wouldnt be so hard on him


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