Revenge served icily and carefully cold. Roy Keane has dismissed Sir Alex Ferguson’s account of the relationship between the two and Keane’s hurried departure from Old Trafford as “nonsense” and “wrong”, and even rejected attempts by the former United manager to praise him as “insulting”.
Keane also believes Ferguson, spurred by a “massive ego”, still seeks to exert “control and power” at United despite stepping down at the end of last season, and he suggests Ferguson’s lack of loyalty was his biggest weakness.
In an interview to be broadcast by ITV on Tuesday night, Keane gives his first significant and considered response to Ferguson’s recent autobiography, which was notably critical of his former captain. Keane aimed blow after blow at Ferguson, the man who signed him for United in 1993 and ushered him out the door a dozen years later.
Asked to describe their relationship today, Keane replied: “Non-existent.” Asked if he felt let down by Ferguson, Keane stated: “No, nothing surprises me with that man.” Asked Ferguson’s main strength, Keane said: “Ruthlessness.” And, most tellingly of all, Keane was asked to name the best manager he played under. There was a long pause before he answered. “Brian Clough,” he said.
“Everything is about control and power,” said Keane of Ferguson. “He’s still striving for it now, even though he’s not manager. There’s massive ego involved in that.”
Keane was hurried out of Old Trafford in 2005 in the wake of an interview with the club’s TV station in which he criticised team-mates. Keane disputes Ferguson’s version of events – Ferguson said the interview was a “disgrace”.
“He is wrong with that one,” said Keane. “Just because Alex Ferguson says it [it] doesn’t mean it’s the truth. He is absolutely wrong.”
Keane did agree with Ferguson that this was the end of the line for them. He said: “I had obviously lost respect for him and he had lost respect for me.” On the deterioration in the relationship between Ferguson and John Magnier, then a United director, over the racehorse Rock Of Gibraltar, Keane said: “If people don’t think that had a negative impact on the club then they are living in cloud cuckoo land.” The incident was touched on only briefly in Ferguson’s book.
Keane also dismissed Ferguson’s most lavish praise, hailing his performance in the 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus in Turin. He said: “Stuff like that kind of insults me. That was my job. It is like praising the postman for delivering mail.”
Keane & Vieira: Best of Enemies is on ITV4 on Tuesday, 10pm