Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

How on earth could Roy Keane believe that the referee was right to send Nani off?

Manchester United's Nani is sent off after receiving a red card from referee Cuneyt Cakir during the UEFA Champions League match at Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United's Nani is sent off after receiving a red card from referee Cuneyt Cakir during the UEFA Champions League match at Old Trafford, Manchester

Sensational wasn't it? You couldn't take your eyes off the fascinating events unfolding at Old Trafford. And that was just Roy Keane!

 

The Irishman has produced many a memorable performance in Manchester and this was another as he sat upright in his chair in the ITV studio surrounded by two ex-players who couldn't lace his boots and a presenter looking scared of him.

Before the match with Wayne Rooney dropped to the bench Keane (right) suggested that “the writing was on the wall” for the English striker's career at United. What a bombshell to open with.

But Roy was only getting started. He saved his best — or worst — depending on your point of view to last.

While everyone else around the country, and the world, which according to Jose Mourinho stopped to watch United's Champions League last 16 clash with Real Madrid last night, questioned the referee's sanity for red carding Nani in a tie-changing moment just before the hour, Keane leapt to the official's defence.

After television pictures showed Nani's high challenge on Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa, Keane, with the intensity of De Niro at his best, stated: “In my career I would think ‘did I give the referee a chance to send me off?'. If I did, then it is out of my hands. I think that is the right decision.”

Adrian Chiles had that bewildered gaze on his face as the colour drained from the cheeks of Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate, who painfully tried to argue a case for Nani. Keano was having none of it. Cuneyt Cakir's call was right, simple as that.

Was Roy just trying to be controversial? Well, he clearly achieved that.

Was he trying to wind Sir Alex Ferguson up? Tick.

Or was he actually being serious? Come on Roy, if you had been sent off for every high tackle you made, we'd have never seen you on the pitch!

It was a booking, no more than that.

At the time United were 1-0 up and 2-1 ahead on aggregate with Sir Alex Ferguson's tactics working a treat.

Cristiano Ronaldo, on his Old Trafford return, wasn't in the game, Danny Welbeck was stifling the influence of Xabi Alonso, Ryan Giggs in his 1000th senior game was playing a blinder, defensively the hosts were rarely troubled and Wayne Rooney, sitting on the bench, was not being missed at all.

Once down to 10 men, with Jose Mourinho making a clever switch bringing on Luka Modric for Arbeloa, the home side simply couldn't cope.

Modric netted a beauty and then a cutting move which undressed United left Ronaldo at the far post to effectively claim a quarter final place for the Spanish champions.

To their credit United mustered that super, swashbuckling never say die spirit for which they are famed and could have scored a few goals late on but for the brilliance of Real's goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Ferguson was so “distraught” he couldn't face the press after the game and their fans were distraught.

And what did one of their favourite sons do? Only go and make them feel worse. Some may feel betrayed by Keano. Some just plain bemused.

United are out, Celtic will follow them tonight and Arsenal next week. No British teams left in the Champions League! Keane's still there though on ITV. The man from Cork is more unmissable than Mourinho, whether you agree with him or not.

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