Belfast Telegraph

It'd be nice to see Man United legends Roy Keane and Alex Ferguson together again

By Steven Beacom

Former Manchester United scout Martin Ferguson has expressed his hope that one day his brother Sir Alex and former Old Trafford captain Roy Keane will patch up their differences.

Ferguson and Keane had a fantastic relationship as the two dominant forces at United during the club's most successful period before an infamous falling out in 2005 led to the Republic of Ireland midfielder leaving the club and moving to Celtic.

A month before his departure Keane, following a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in which he didn't feature due to injury, had been fiercely critical of the United side in an interview with MUTV which was never broadcast.

Since the acrimonious split between the inspirational boss and influential skipper 11 years ago this month, relations have been frosty with neither of the firebrand characters wanting to give an inch.

Sir Alex's brother, a huge admirer of Keane as a player, hopes that in the future those issues can be ironed out.

"It would be nice if the two of them got together again," said Martin Ferguson, who was United's chief European scout under his older brother.

"Whether that would happen I don't know.

"Eventually Roy and Alex didn't get on (at United) but Roy was a great player and Alex knew he was a great player.

"The first player in his team every week was Roy Keane. Roy was a big influence on the club."

Martin Ferguson claims that had Keane, now the Republic of Ireland assistant manager, and Paul Scholes not been suspended for the 1999 Champions League final when United beat Bayern Munich 2-1 with late goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to clinch an historic treble, the epic clash at the Nou Camp would not have been nearly as dramatic.

"People say that Bayern Munich were the better team in the 1999 European Cup final but they forget we had two of our best players suspended," said Sir Alex's sibling.

"If Roy and Paul Scholes had been playing in the European Cup final in 1999 we'd have won the Cup by half-time because they were such good players and such influential players. I'm serious - we'd have won it by half-time!

"That's how important they were. Those suspensions almost cost us the European Cup.

"Now Roy is into the management side of things with Ireland and I hope him and Martin O'Neill continue to do well. Good luck to Roy."

On Northern Ireland's success of late, Ferguson added: "They have done fantastically well. I knew the manager Michael O'Neill when he was a player at Hibs because I coached there and even then you could tell he was an intelligent character."

The Ferguson family have many links with Northern Ireland. Alexander, dad to Martin and Alex, played for Glentoran while the former United boss was a great supporter of the Milk Cup when he was in charge at Old Trafford and in 2012 brought a full strength side to play against an Irish League Select at Windsor Park for Harry Gregg's testimonial.

As for Martin, he recollects playing at the old Castlereagh Park ground in Newtownards as a youngster alongside a kid who would go on to become a Celtic and Scotland icon.

"I played against Northern Ireland juniors for Scotland in Ards. Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone was our outside right and we won 4-0. Jimmy was only 16.

"I'd never played with him before and had no idea how good he was.

"I passed him the ball and he was away whoosh and I thought 'he'll do for me'.

"What a player he was."

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