Rio Ferdinand still experiences a shiver down his spine when recalling the infamous clash between Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane in 2005.
In the realm of football hard men, there are very few individuals with a stronger reputation than Roy Keane. However, in Sir Alex Ferguson, he encountered a formidable adversary.
Together, they achieved tremendous success at Manchester United, with Keane, the former club captain, collecting numerous trophies during his tenure at Old Trafford, including the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League.
Yet, as is often the case, even the most fruitful partnerships must eventually face their demise, and this particular relationship ended in a spectacular and explosive fashion.
Keane’s unexpected departure from United via mutual consent in November 2005 was ostensibly linked to injury concerns. However, it swiftly became evident that his relationship with the iconic manager had deteriorated beyond repair.
The pivotal moment was an interview he granted to the club’s in-house media team, MUTV, during which he launched a scathing critique of some of his teammates while reflecting on a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough.
Keane’s comments were so blistering that the club opted not to broadcast the footage, further exacerbating the rift with Sir Alex.
Rio Ferdinand explains why Sir Alex Ferguson kicked Roy Keane out of Man United
Speaking recently on hisFIVE YouTube channel, former teammate Rio Ferdinand went into greater detail outlining what exactly happened in the aftermath of the MUTV interview. The pundit also explained that the whole incident left him and the whole United squad stunned by the ruthless nature of Sir Alex at the time. Ferdinand began:
“We play a game on a Saturday, a player gets nominated on MUTV to do analysis of that game. We get beat by Middlesbrough, everyone plays rubbish. Roy Keane does the video analysis and destroys the whole team, including me. He goes through people individually, hammers them.
“The manager, before it goes out, gets wind of it, cancels it going out, says it ain’t going out anywhere, that is a disgrace, that can’t happen. Calls a meeting at the training ground, we all go into the manager’s office, watch it and the manager is screaming, it goes off. It’s a movie in itself, everyone’s cringing. The manager’s going ‘how dare you, I’m the only one who should speak about our players publicly’.
“Roy has a go back, it kicks off between the coach and Roy again, some mad stuff said. The next day we go into training, the manager calls a meeting as we go on the training pitch and says just so you know Roy Keane will never play for this football club again.”
Co-host Joel Beya then asked the former United defender: “What message did that send to you?”. Ferdinand replied:
“Shiver me timbers. Do not f*** with this guy, do not mess with Sir Alex. This guy is the truth. This guy is the coldest dude about. This is our captain, this is a legend of the football club, a phenomenal player, a great guy to have around the place when the chips are down. You know you can look to your right and go Roy, where do we go now?
“The manager says not on my watch, this ain’t happening. My man is done, he’s done. He’s finished at this club, he will never wear this kit again. Looking around and all of a sudden he goes: ‘Right, now go and train’.
“I know some man’s legs were flaky after that on the way over, like spaghetti on the way to the training pitch, because Sir Alex Ferguson’s cold, you’ve got to be cold in those situations.”
Sir Alex x Roy Keane leaving Manchester United….pic.twitter.com/i8PReH03DX
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) September 11, 2023
What did Roy Keane say on MUTV?
Man Utd sought to destroy all copies of the tape and the player was slapped with a £5,000 fine, as well as never playing for the Red Devils again. Interestingly enough, however, while Keane’s interview with MUTV wasn’t ever aired, details did later emerge of the incident. It’s quite remarkable what the Irishman said about his teammates, and isn’t at all surprising that he was later punished.
On Ferdinand specifically, he said: “I have seen that happen to Rio before [after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink robbed Ferdinand for the second goal]. It is poor defending. Just because you are paid £120,000 a week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham you think you are a superstar.”
He also laid into a number of other teammates, saying: “I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher.” Then moving onto Alan Smith: “What is he doing there? He is wandering around as if he is lost. He doesn’t know what he is doing.” He also called Kieran Richardson “a lazy defender who deserved to get punished.”
On the overall performance, he was just as blunt, claiming: “I wasn’t surprised by the result I had been expecting one like this. The players have been asked questions and they are just not coming up with the answers. I am sick of having to say it and they are sick of listening to me. They have let down the club, the manager, and the fans.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Ferdinand later revealed that Keane wasn’t really his “cup of tea” and it appears as though the duo never really managed to get over this conflict. Speaking on his YouTube channel earlier this year (via Manchester Evening News), the former England defender explained that this didn’t stop them from working well together on the pitch, but they wouldn’t ever spend any time hanging out away from football. He said:
“Who cares if you get on with someone? It’s about what you do in the 90 minutes. I could get on with people if you don’t do what you’re meant to do as a player, you will get spoken about. Roy Keane isn’t someone you’d go for a drink with. He isn’t my cup of tea, in that sense. He is an unbelievable football player. I heard a few stories, I knew immediately he wasn’t someone I’d go for a drink with.
“I’d see him, I’d say hello but he isn’t someone where I’d love to get on a night out with. He’d have ended up in a fight somewhere and ruined it and you have to go home, or an argument with himself in the mirror. We aren’t cut from the same cloth. We’re different people, he’s said similar over the years. I wouldn’t look forward to that.”