Ferguson confident of 'fantastic reception' for Keane's return

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has predictably mixed emotions as he prepares to face Sunderland this evening. As the Manchester United manager looks forward to welcoming back his former captain Roy Keane to Old Trafford, he is still coming to terms with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's retirement.

Ferguson said: "Roy will get a great reception and that's what makes me proud to be manager here. It tells you what a great club we are. Former players like Bryan Robson, Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce get a fantastic reception. Sometimes the supporters actually chant the players' names. I remember that happening to Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham. Mind you, someone did wave back once and got absolutely slaughtered."

While Keane's departure from United was swift and unexpected, Ferguson is full of admiration for him. He said: "When players are coming to the end of their career, it is a difficult time. They are almost family and it is not easy when they have to leave. They have been great servants and great players for you."

Ferguson hopes, meanwhile, that lessons have been learned from last season's crowd trouble when his side have their re-match with Roma in the Champions League. "What disturbed us at the time when we saw the footage was that all the police were in the Manchester United section," Ferguson said. "I think there was some story that the Rome police were scared to get among their fans. I would find that quite incredulous but there should be equal amount of control of both sets of fans."

"Hopefully lessons have been learned by what happened last year because someone could have been killed. In fact when you saw some of it you were amazed nobody was actually killed. Hopefully that's an instant reminder to us seven or eight months later."