“My job was to make sure we didn’t lose games and won league titles.”
Roy Keane wasn’t the most prolific of goalscoring midfielders during his time at Manchester United. But scoring goals and putting the ball in the net wasn’t the former Ireland captain’s primary focus.
Keane appeared on a special edition of Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football in 2020, where Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville analysed classic games from the 2000/2001 season, including United’s 6-1 win over Arsenal.
The former Ireland captain found the net in that game, latching onto Dwight Yorke’s pass to fire the ball past David Seaman. He was quizzed as to whether he felt he should have scored more during his time with the Red Devils.
Roy Keane on why he adapted his game mid-way through his career.
“No, absolutely not. It wasn’t my job. My job was to make sure we didn’t lose games and won league titles.
“I scored plenty early in my career, so I thought, ‘I’ve done that bit of the game, I’ll focus on sitting in front of the back four and dictating the game’.
“I scored plenty in training but [come match day] I left that to the strikers and people like Scholes, Giggs and Beckham, who were keen to get forward.”
Roy Keane rubbishes suggestions Man United felt they had won the Premier League title early in the season.
Throughout the broadcast, Neville and Carragher discussed the season, in which Manchester United ended up comfortably winning the league title.
The former United right-back outlined that during that season he felt as though they essentially had the title wrapped up by January however Keane did not echo those sentiments.
“Believe it or not, I’m going to disagree with Gary,” he began.
“I didn’t fall for that at all, throughout my career I never thought that anything was easy. We made it look easy at the end, but that was because we worked really hard.
“Even when you were 10 or 13 points clear and people say it felt like the league was won, I never felt that way, it wasn’t in my make-up.
“I wish I was a bit relaxed when we were so far clear, but I felt I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t think that way, that was my mindset and I was never happy really.”
Keane on Man United’s strikers.
During that time United had a wealth of attacking talent, with Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham, Dwight Yorke and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer making up their striking options.
Keane though would not be pressed on which combination he found to be the most effective.
“I don’t like these conversations, I really don’t, it’s really unfair,” he adds. “We were really lucky with the four strikers we had at that time, Yorkie, Coley, Ole and Teddy – brilliant players.
“I always try to make the point to remind people they were very good lads in the dressing room. People talk about strikers being selfish, they have to be, but I found all of these lads to be decent lads.
“They looked at the bigger picture, they had to bide their time as the manager rotated the squad. We were one of the first to rotate the squad throughout the competitions and it worked because the players made it work, they were professionals and when they got the opportunity they went out and done the business.”
(Originally published on March 24, 2020).