Roy Keane has given Manchester United a reminder of what they’re missing
It’s nearing 14 years since the curtain spectacularly came down on Roy Keane’s Manchester United career but there are few, if any, former United players who are capable of captivating the club’s fanbase quite like the Irishman.
When Keane speaks, United fans invariably listen.
He is a journalist’s dream for the countless sound bites he produces and he thrust himself into the spotlight again last week with his appearance at an Off The Ball Roadshow event in Dublin.
Keane’s declaration that he will never forgive Sir Alex Ferguson until he receives an apology from the manager alongside whom he achieved so much was an obvious talking point, while the 48-year-old’s comments about Jon Walters reignited an old feud.
The entire two-hour broadcast was fascinating but it was during the opening section of the talk that supporters were provided with a reminder of exactly what this current side is missing.
“He (Ferguson) criticised me a little bit when I left saying I was trying to run the dressing room, but we did run the dressing room. Not just me. You don’t have to be a captain to be a leader but there were brilliant characters.”
As well as a distinct lack in quality, this United dressing room remains devoid of any real leadership, despite Harry Maguire having arrived from Leicester las month.
When United won the double in 1994 the squad boasted the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Paul Ince, Eric Cantona and Bryan Robson.
Bruce, Ince, Cantona and Robson had left by the time 1999 came around but Jaap Stam had come in Keane’s influence had grown.
During United’s glory years of the 90s, United’s dressing room was always teeming with big characters and that is not the case with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.
Keane’s no-nonsense leadership style may not be as conducive to success now as it was then but what United fans wouldn’t give for a player in his mould to galvanise this team when it is struggling.
Instead, that responsibility falls to players who simply do not look capable of doing so.
Ashley Young is United’s club captain but he is no longer a first-team regular and David de Gea dons the armband when the 33-year-old doesn’t feature.
United’s midfielders lack character and quality, while their oldest forward is the 23-year-old Anthony Martial.
Maguire is vocal and already looks a shrewd addition but he cannot inspire his teammates on his own.
If United continue to look so meek over the coming months, Solskjaer might have to consider delving into the transfer market when the window reopens in January.
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