Mark Goldbridge explains why players like Roy Keane no longer exist in football, gives his opinion on Erik ten Hag’s struggles and Manchester United’s chances of finishing in the top five.
Keane was always very fiery and aggressive and at Manchester United and [coaches] matured him into this leader and the most decorated captain in Premier League history.
As a player and as a leader, he’s probably my favourite player of all time. I always put him in my top three. He’s a player that probably doesn’t exist anymore. I think about the John Terrys and the Steven Gerrards – very good captains for Chelsea and Liverpool – but Roy Keane was a different level to that.
He embodied the manager. He was the manager on the pitch and Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane were just in tune.
There’s two games that stand out for me – the 1996 FA Cup Final which was boring, but he was brilliant in that 1-0 win over Liverpool.
And then the [1999 Champions League] semi-final in Turin when he got the second yellow card and was going to miss the final. He inspired us from a losing position against Juventus to the final.
That’s the quintessential leader who embodies the manager and inspires a team and he’s got that aggression as well.
My top three Manchester United players of all time
I’ll go with the three I consistently pick. Certainly Roy Keane was a role model for me as a lad. I loved his engine, his tenacity. He was a good player as well, a leader, aggressive. I just loved all that.
David Beckham I liked for different reasons, I even remember having a hairstyle like him. When he got sent off against Argentina I was one of the few people in the country that stuck up for him.
I love the way he played the game. I don’t think he was the most talented player but technically he just had a wand of a right foot.
Cristiano Ronaldo for two or three years was the best player in the world and was playing for Manchester United. I’ll never forget that free-kick against Portsmouth [in 2008]. It was a pleasure to have the best player in the world playing for your club. It’s just a shame he went to Real Madrid.
The stats read well but the football leaves a lot to be desired
When you look at Manchester United at the moment it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a little bit over the top how the media and rival fans talk about us. Factually were the most in-form team in the Premier League over the last five games – winning four.
But its forgettable football, its boring football its survival football.
December is massive. We’ve got three away games in six days when we come back, with Galatasaray in between. We’ve got Liverpool away and West Ham later in the month. So I think United fans are saying ‘lets have a chat on New Year’s Eve if its not going well at least we can party!’
December can be a springboard. I wouldn’t count against us but on the other hand we could be back discussing whether Ten Hag has a future quickly.
Does Erik Ten Hag deserve more criticism for United’s struggles?
I think Erik ten Hag deserves more slack. When you look at it he’s got more points from his first 50 games than Jurgen Klopp and I think recency bias has been a problem because you see people like [Roberto] De Zerbi, [Unai] Emery and Ange [Postecoglou] doing really well this season. Those managers have been in for less time than Ten Hag.
But last season he did perform and that’s why he has the record better than Klopp because he got to third place and two cup finals.
But there’s two problems: What we were doing last season isn’t happening this year. Emery took momentum from last season into this season. Why haven’t we?
And two, yeah we might have more points than Jurgen Klopp after 50 games but where is Klopp now?
He’s won a Premier League he’s won a Champions League. Stats can be deceiving, I’d rather be in Liverpool’s position than Man United’s position under Ten Hag.
Manchester United’s hopes of a top five finish
Manchester United are sixth there is the potential for fifth to get a Champions League spot this year. Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal are the benchmark and I don’t think we’ll be competing with them.
Beyond that, I think who’s the definite fourth and fifth place?
I don’t really see a concern as to why Manchester United can’t get fourth, let alone fifth, other than the form we’ve shown this season.
But we’ve got to improve the way we’re playing because at the moment teams like Luton are giving us a game.