Roy Keane has named his best Manchester United XI of the Premier League era.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football after United’s 3-0 win over Brentford at Old Trafford, the Irishman sprang a surprise by leaving out the likes of Paul Scholes and Eric Cantona.
The ex-Man Utd captain, who enjoyed a hugely-successful 12-year spell with the Red Devils between 1993-2005, also joked that ‘Big Ron Atkinson’ would be his manager ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Here’s Roy Keane’s best Man Utd XI of the Premier League era:
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
“He was very good. Not as good as everyone thought, but he was very, very good. I obviously have good memories of him. He was a good character in the dressing room. Me and Peter weren’t best of mates – actually far from it – but the most important thing is that I had huge respect for him and he produced in big moments and helped us get over the line in big matches. Peter would produce and help us win trophies. He was not getting called upon a lot but when he did he would produce. He made some excellent saves.”
Right-back: Gary Neville
“I give Nev a lot of stick but I will go with Nev. You have to have quality to do what Gary did. He was a very good player and a really good teammate. When those five or six come over to join training, you knew they were here to stay because they were really good players. I think Gary used to go to bed at half eight every evening and we would criticise him but he was a really top professional player. He properly loved the club and that came through. We all embraced Gary. We all liked him. Obviously, that has changed over the years…”
Centre-back: Jaap Stam
“I could not leave Jaap Stam out. OK, he has not played as many games as the other lads but he was big and strong, brilliant one-v-ones. Did he have any real weaknesses? He could head it, he could leap, he could read the game, he was aggressive. He was a decent lad. I got on really well with him. I was not surprised when he left. He’d had a bad injury and when you are at a top club players do come and go. But he was a brilliant player for Manchester United.”
Centre-back: Gary Pallister
“The other one was an issue but I have gone with Gary Pallister. Brucey was a brilliant player but you have to leave someone out. Rio was obviously a good athlete and read the game well but my relationship with Pally was pretty good as well. Certain lads at United go out of their way to help you. He was obviously a very good player. Always looked exhausted but I would have him in there.”
Left-back: Denis Irwin
“Denis Irwin every day of the week. I roomed with him for Manchester United and Ireland. He could play at right-back, he was right-footed, but I have put him in at left-back. Brilliant trainer, rarely injured, turned up for all the big matches, good at set-pieces. If he was playing now, we are talking about the modern full-back, Denis was up there with the best.”
Right-wing: David Beckham
“On the right side I have to go with Becks. He was a brilliant player. Where do you start? He could get an assist, he could get you goals, he was good at set-pieces, he could run all day for you. He had to with Nev behind him.
“Becks was a bit younger, he was from London, he loved his gear, loved his cars. But what you look for from a young player, are they training properly and are they giving everything for the cause? Becks did that. I didn’t care about the other bits. If they were a distraction then you pull a young player aside. But he put a shift in.”
Central midfield: Bryan Robson
“Bryan Robson has to go in there. Bryan was a great player for Manchester United, full of courage and scored some big goals for Manchester United when the club was not at its best. I played against Robbo a few times at Forest. It was difficult because he was tenacious. The word I think of with Robbo is courageous, getting in the box but dead brave.”
Central midfield: Paul Ince
“Incey was a very good player, maybe tarnished his United reputation with him playing for Liverpool or whatever. There is a lot of talk about Incey being the Guv’nor and that was held against him but that was just banter. There was no nastiness with that. Incey was a really good teammate and I thought he was a very good player.
“It was tough leaving Scholesy out and Butty, brilliant players and brilliant characters. But I just thought Incey in that first season I was there, when we won the double, he was brilliant in midfield. He was a good team-mate to have next to you in the trenches. He could head it, he could defend, he could get you a goal. And you know what, I enjoyed his company.”
Left-wing: Ryan Giggs
“You cannot pick a Manchester United team and leave Giggsy out. When I hear managers talking about players being consistent then Giggsy has to go in. Giggsy was in the team before me and had a lot of commitments off the field, he was a superstar in a sense. But his priority was his football.”
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo
“When he came to United, he was still a kid. But you could just see the potential in him, the work rate, the desire. Did we all think he would go on and achieve the things he did in terms of the goals, the assists? No. But did we think he had a chance to become one of the greatest players ever? Yeah. A lot can happen. Injuries. Distractions. But look at Ronaldo. For all his off-the-field stuff, I don’t think it was ever a distraction. We all liked him. He had that innocence. He has been amazing and I still love watching him.”
Forward: Wayne Rooney
“Wayne was a bit different. He had been at Everton and played a lot of games. He was chirpier, he was a Scouser. I would not say I took to him as quickly as Ronaldo. But you just knew he was going to be a brilliant player. I had one or two disagreements with him. He took the remote control to watch X-Factor when I was watching the rugby league. But that was great. You need those disagreements, to let off steam.”
Jamie Carragher asked Keane who would be his manager and the Premier League legend said with a wry smile: “Erm… big Ron Atkinson”.
Keane only played under Ferguson at Old Trafford but the pair fell out and, unfortunately, still haven’t resolved their differences.
Roy Keane’s Best Manchester United XI of the Premier League era
You can watch Keane’s segment on Monday Night Football in full here: