Wrath of Keane: Top 10 Royatribes

Patrick Vieira and Keane clashed regularly, including during this league game in 1999.

Roy Keane has never been afraid to show his emotions.

1) “I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. Take that you...”

The Victim: Alf-Inge Haaland

The Cause: After Keane suffered a season-ending knee injury — and an earful from Haaland — while trying to trip the Norwegian in September 1997, he stewed for more than three years before taking his revenge with a wild tackle in the 2001 Manchester derby.

The Quote: From Keane’s autobiography in 2002: “I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c*n&. And don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal [David] Wetherall there’s some for him as well. I didn’t wait for Mr Elleray to show the red card. I turned and walked to the dressing room.”

The Fallout: Found guilty on two charges of bringing the game into disrepute, incurring a five-match ban and a £150,000 fine.

2) “I didn’t rate you as a player, as a manager, or a person…”

The Victim: Mick McCarthy

The Cause: Roy expressed his grievances with Ireland’s World Cup preparations in an Irish Times interview that kicked off the infamous Saipan meltdown. “You’ve seen the training pitch and I’m not being a prima donna. Training pitch, travel arrangements, getting through the bloody airport when we were leaving, it’s the combination of things. I would never say ‘that’s the reason or this is the reason’, but enough is enough.”

The Quote: From the meeting McCarthy called to address the article: “Mick, you’re a liar... I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.”

The Fallout: Just a missed World Cup, temporary exile from international football and the biggest sports story in the nation’s history.

3) “Just because you play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham...”

The Victim: Rio Ferdinand and six other team-mates.

The Cause: A 4-1 defeat for United at Middlesbrough in 2005 drew a furious rebuke from Keane in a ‘Play The Pundit’ slot on MUTV. United had been mediocre in the league and were on course to finish bottom of their Champions League group.

The Quote: “Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are a superstar… The younger players have been let down by some of the more experienced players. They are just not leading. There is a shortage of characters in this team. It seems to be in this club that you have to play badly to be rewarded. Maybe that is what I should do when I come back. Play badly.”

The Fallout: The show was pulled, another of those crisis meetings was called and Roy’s 12-year United career soon came to an unceremonious end.

4) “At Old Trafford they have a few drinks and the prawn sandwiches.”

The Victim: Sections of the Manchester United home support.

The Cause: Keane was upset by a muted atmosphere during United’s Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev in 2000, which the team won to progress in the competition.

The Quote: “Sometimes you wonder; do they understand the game of football? We’re 1-0 up, then there are one or two stray passes and they’re getting on players’ backs. It’s just not on. At the end of the day they need to get behind the team. Away from home our fans are fantastic, I’d call them the hardcore fans. But at home they have a few drinks and probably the prawn sandwiches, and they don’t realise what’s going on out on the pitch. I don’t think some of the people who come to Old Trafford can spell ‘football’, never mind understand it.”

The Fallout: The term ‘Prawn Sandwich Brigade’ quickly entered the football lexicon and a debate about the declining atmosphere at British grounds has more or less endured ever since.

5) “We’re not here for a sing-song.”

The Victim: Ireland fans and players.

The Cause: While working as a pundit for ITV during Euro 2012, Keane was unimpressed with the rousing rendition of the Fields of Athenry that serenaded Ireland’s 4-0 humbling at the hands of Spain.

The Quote: “I think the players and even the supporters, they all have to change their mentality. It’s just nonsense from players speaking after the games about how great the supporters are. Listen, the supporters want to see the team doing a lot better and not giving daft goals away like that. I’m not too happy with all that nonsense. To praise the supporters for sake of it … Let’s change that attitude towards Irish supporters. They want to see the team winning — let’s not kid ourselves, we’re a small country, we’re up against it, but let’s not just go along for the sing-song every now and again.”

The Fallout: Rather like our last major tournament 10 years earlier, Roy divided the nation between those who agreed with him and others who felt he had disrespected the punters who had forked out thousands to join the chorus line.

6) “If you love Senegal so much, why don’t you play for them?”

The Victim: Patrick Vieira

The Cause: United’s rivalry with Arsenal was still simmering close to boiling point in 2005, his great engine room adversary had just taken a pop at Gary Neville in the tunnel, and Keane had clearly grown annoyed at the publicity the Dakar-born Frenchman was getting for charity work in his birthplace.

The Quote: “If you love Senegal so much, why don’t you play for them? Shut your fucking mouth… Come and have a go at me… Fucking see you out there. See you out there. Shouting your mouth off.. Every week you.. Making out you’re a nice guy… Picking on Gary Neville… Have a go at one of us.”

The Fallout: Vieira was riled up enough to head Arsenal into a 1-0 lead within 10 minutes, but Keane had the last laugh on the night as United won 4-2. Mind you, in his last kick of a ball for Arsenal, Vieira did convert the penalty that beat United in that season’s FA Cup final.

7. “Heart attack? I’m shocked they found one.”

The Victim: Clive Clarke

The Cause: The twice-capped Irish defender didn’t impress Keane during his spell as Sunderland manager and found himself etched in the bad books after claiming, in a newspaper article, that Keane had lost the dressing room.

The Quote: “He went on loan to Coventry and, on a night we got beaten in the cup to Luton, the staff came in and said, ‘Clive Clarke has had a heart attack at Leicester’. I said, ‘Is he OK? I’m shocked they found one, you could never tell by the way he plays’.”

The Fallout: The remark was not widely regarded as Keane’s finest hour. Clarke never played football again and had more to say about Keane’s man-management techniques.

8. “I’d rather go to the dentist.”

The Victim: TV pundits

The Cause: This outburst was actually sparked by what Keane saw as unfair criticism of old rival Arsene Wenger. Then Sunderland manager, Keane felt pundits were “brainwashing the public” by leading knee-jerk reaction against managers who were enduring tricky spells.

The Quote: “I was asked by ITV to do the Celtic versus Manchester United game but I’ve done it once for Sky and never again. I’d rather go to the dentist. You’re sitting there with people like Richard Keys and they’re trying to sell something that’s not there. Any time I watch a game on television, I have to turn the commentators off. They say “he’s playing well” and I’m thinking “no, he’s not.” My advice to anyone is don’t listen to the experts, just watch the game and gather your own opinions.”

The Fallout: Next time Roy strapped himself into a dentist’s chair, it was to down a helping of humble pie as he took up a punditry position with ITV.

9. “That player is weak because his wife runs his life.”

The Victim: WAGS

The Cause: After missing out on another of his Sunderland targets, Roy worried that the influence of wives and girlfriends seeking the glamour and shopping of London was putting off prospective signings.

The Quote: “These so-called big stars are people we are supposed to be looking up to. Well, they are weak and soft. If they don’t want to come because their wife wants to go shopping in London, it’s a sad state of affairs. I can understand the attraction of people wanting to go to London – if you are talking about Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham. But there are players going to clubs in London simply because it is London. To me, that is wrong. It is not a football move, it is a lifestyle move and those are the type of people you don’t want at your club. To me, that player is weak because his wife runs his life.”

The Fallout: Who knows what Roy’s wife said when he got home?

10. “Lost the hunger that got you the Rolex, the cars and the mansion.”

The Victim: His United teammates.

The Cause: Failure to add more European success after Keane felt United had been lucky against Bayern in 1999.

The Quote: “We’d bought into the glory, our status as heroes and living legends. As we stood for the Uefa anthem before the second leg of the Champions League semi-final with Bayer Leverkusen, one of our players was shaking. He was afraid. Played for his country, won championships, big star — afraid of taking the step up. Blame Seba (Juan Sebastian Veron) — it’s too easy. Some of the others were getting away with murder. Glory, believing the publicity, had cost us. Rolex watches, garages full of cars, mansions, set up for life — then forgot about the game and lost the hunger that got you the Rolex, the cars and the mansion.”

The Fallout: Since Keane was still performing at his peak, Fergie probably put the rebuke down to Roy “making sure the dressing room was operating at a high level of motivation.”


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