Roy Keane has dismissed the idea that Premier League footballers should take pay cuts to help out ‘billionaire owners”. And added more caustic salt to the wounds of his shock departure from Manchester United in 2005.
Speaking on Sky Sports’this morning, alongside Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, Keane described as ‘nonsense’ the idea that players at top clubs are under pressure to take wage cuts during the Covid-19 shutdown.
"The way I look at it now, particularly after the way I left Manchester United, I wouldn't take a pay cut from anybody if I was at one of the bigger clubs.
"I know there is pressure on players, but it is nobody's business what you do with your wages. You take your wages and if you want to be generous, go ahead and do it. I don't think players should feel pressured by clubs, particularly the bigger clubs, to take pay cuts.
They have signed a contract, and your contract with a club is a personal matter. This idea that all players should take a pay cut, or that all the players have to do this, I think that is nonsense. It's up to the individual.
"If they want to stick to their guns and say they want their full wages when you've got a billionaire in the background, do it. Don't be swayed by some sort of pressure from the media, who write lies anyway about certain players.
"There is a lot of speculation out there, I don't think anybody should believe anything they are reading about what players are doing. I am really surprised at the amount of people jumping on the bandwagon with the criticism of the players, it's nobody's business.
"I'm talking about the top clubs here with the really wealthy owners, obviously the clubs in the lower leagues are having to make sacrifices, but the players at the top clubs that have the money, stick to your guns."
Keane even suggested 'cashflow' was mentioned during the infamous 2005 meeting with Alex Ferguson and then United chief executive David Gill that saw him leave the club.
The Glazer family had completed their takeover of United six months earlier.
"I went to Man United. Man United discussed with me they couldn't match Blackburn Rovers. Man United couldn't match Blackburn Rovers? Can you believe that?
"Eventually after a few years, I signed a new contract, Man United sent out letters to supporters saying season tickets had gone up because of my contract.
The day I left the club, I sat in front of Ferguson and Gill, who discussed cashflow problems. Brilliant. Brilliant.
Keane added: "When I was at Nottingham Forest or Manchester United, negotiating new deals or leaving the club, the club made it pretty clear to me on any aspect of contract negotiations that it was a business, and I understood that.
"But I signed a contract and I expected the club to honour that contract. I know circumstances have changed but I am speaking about the clubs that have the money available.
"When the clubs with billionaire owners in the background come to the players and say they are in trouble, no, no, you honour the contract.
"I was in a brilliant dressing room at Manchester United, a lot of different characters and different traits, and if certain players wanted to give up some of their wages or keep all their wages then good luck to them.
"That's up to the player, the individual.
"These guys who are billionaires in the background are ruthless, they are shrewd people.
Then they come and talk to the players about cashflow problems, I've heard it all before. I'd take no notice of it.
Keane also admitted he found it difficult to adjust to the ‘banter’ of young United players in his latter years at Old Trafford.
“Obviously people like Wayne [Rooney] and Rio [Ferdinand], [Darren] Fletcher and [John] O’Shea and all these lads were in the dressing room.
“I think the dynamics were changing, which I always used to roll with, I didn’t mind I enjoyed it as it would give you a new type of energy especially if they were good players, you go ‘listen, they’ll help us win trophies’.
“But towards the end I remember thinking with some of these lads: ‘nah I’m not really getting some of these. I don’t get their banter, I don’t get their humour.’
“I probably very rarely had a conversation with any of them. I was constantly thinking of the bigger picture, were they going to be good players for Man United and that was the most important thing.”