“I find it kind of hard to praise them too much.”
Roy Keane went through countless battles during his career. The former Manchester United captain had several high-profile feuds during his career, from Mick McCarthy to Alf Inge-Haaland. He and Alex Ferguson went from an all-conquering manager and captain duo to sworn adversaries. Keane also had notable run-ins with rival clubs during his time at Old Trafford, including Chelsea.
The Irishman went through many on-pitch battles with the Blues. He later admitted that he ‘found it hard’ to like the London club.
During Manchester United’s glory days in the 1990s and early 2000s, when they were winning trophies every season, Keane was the club’s captain and driving force on the pitch.
At this time, Chelsea were a talented team and consistently finished in the top six of the Premier League. They won a couple of cup competitions, qualified for the Champions League and beat Man United on several occasions.
However, when Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, Chelsea were transformed overnight.
The Russian billionaire bankrolled several high-profile transfers and Chelsea won back to back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006 under Jose Mourinho.
Roy Keane on Chelsea.
Their new-found success did not appear to sit well with Keane.
According to Diego Forlan, the former Man United striker, Keane was dismissive of Chelsea.
“Chelsea are a small club, nothing like as big as Liverpool or Arsenal,’ my captain Roy Keane and other Manchester United players explained when I asked them about Chelsea,” Forlan said in 2016.
“They’ve thrown hundreds of millions at it…”
While, in 2017, during a panel discussion with Kenny Dalglish and Thierry Henry about the first 25 years of the Premier League, the Irishman admitted that he held little love for Chelsea.
“The owner, clearly, was going to throw money at it,” Keane said.
“Listen, they’ve thrown hundreds of millions at it and will probably continue to do so and that’s what makes them a decent team…
Roy Keane: “I’ve always found it hard to kind of like Chelsea.”
“I remember growing up watching Liverpool in the 80s. Brilliant. We had respect for Arsenal.
“I’ve always found it hard to kind of like Chelsea even though. I’m still reluctant… The way they’ve done it.
“Whatever way they’ve done it, I find it kind of hard to praise them too much. But that’s just a personal thing.”
Keane on Newcastle United
However, Keane’s views on Chelsea are arguably tame in comparison to his opinion of Newcastle United.
In his second autobiography, the former Ireland midfielder dismissed Newcastle as an ‘arrogant bunch’.
“I always had a bit of hassle against Newcastle,” he says.
“I’d been sent off twice up there. I’d had my battles with Shearer and Rob Lee. I always thought they were an arrogant bunch, for a club that had won f*** all.
“We always got decent results at St James’ Park; it wasn’t a bad place to play. But as for the Toon Army, the Geordies, the hostile reception – I never fell for all that crap.”
Originally published on 28 July, 2020.