Before I get too deep in to this article, I want to make it clear at no point do I agree with or condone what Roy Keane did to Alfe-Inge Haaland. Whilst it’s always good to see tough battles for the ball between our players and our opponents, particularly our hated rivals, there’s no way I’m going to say I agree with one of our lot doing to someone what Keane did to Haaland.
It’s important to remember that when Keane did in his cruciate, and was in agonising pain on the deck, Haaland stood over him, shouting at him that he was cheating, telling him to get up. Keane missed a year of his career because of that injury, so clearly at the time, was in excruciating pain. The last thing he wanted was some ugly Leedscum shouting in his face. Again, that doesn’t excuse what Keane did, but that is his reason, as pay back for that. Yet that still doesn’t make it right.
However, Haaland has given a sob story to the rags today about “that challenge”, ahead of the Sunderland vs City game, and the fact that he won’t come out and say that it was Keane who ended his career tells its own story.
“The knee still hurts, that isn’t going to go away,” he says. “I have to accept that. Did that tackle end my career? Well, I never played a full game again, did I? It seems like a great coincidence, don’t you think?”
Rather than answer the question straight, by saying that Keane’s tackle ended his career, he leaves it up to everyone to make their own mind up on it. Why? Because after his retirement he announced on his website that it was an injury to his other knee that finished his career, not the knee that Keane hit, displacing blame from our former captain. It would be rather awkward to categorically go against that now, years later.
You see, Haaland had surgery on his left knee and it was unsuccessful. The following treatment couldn’t fix it. However, it was Haaland’s right that felt the force of Keano’s studs. It was the injury to his other knee that ended his career, despite his best efforts to correct the problem with surgery.
He is right in saying that he never played a full game after that derby day, but what he fails to mention is that just 4 days after he suffered a supposed career ending tackle, he started for Norway in a 2-1 victory over Bulgaria. This is shown on Soccerbase and this Bulgarian website where he is referred to as Holand. He also doesn’t mention that three days after that, so the Premiership weekend following the derby, he started against West Ham. This is shown on the BBC and Soccerbase. So why doesn’t Haaland talk about those games? Another great coincidence I suppose.
Even ignoring the fact it was his other knee that finished him off, it’s hard to believe that a player on the receiving end of a ‘career ending tackle’ would be playing twice in the next 7 days, which is exactly what Haaland did.
Still, Haaland continues, trying to come across as the bigger man. “I had run-ins with people every week, but at the end of the game you shake hands and the problems stay on the field. That is what should have happened between me and him. I just hope now that he is different,” he added. “He is now in charge of players and as a manager and coach has different responsibilities. Football is a sport and it should remain a sport. There is a line that should not be crossed and I presume that he – and his players – know this now.”
So, when Keane was lying in agony and Haaland was shouting in his face, he was willing to shake hands and play nice at the final whistle? When a player is on the deck, holding their face and writhing in pain, the opposition should verbally abuse them? Is that not crossing a line?
It’s sad when any player has their career ended prematurely and even at 30-years-old, with his best days behind him, it was still too early for Haaland. However, to turn around and blame Keane for that is totally classless. But anything for a few quid from The Daily Mail, eh Haaland?