Roy Keane’s autobiography ‘The Second Half’ was released this week and among the many interesting anecdotes is a story about the incident at Highbury in 2005 when United played Arsenal.
Keane was involved in an explosive pre-match bust up with Patrick Vieira and it was widely assumed that this had something to do with Gary Neville. However, Keane has debunked this to an extent, saying that he feels Gary was targeted by Arsenal players because of the performance of Phil Neville in the earlier game that season.
“But, really, what’s mad about the whole tunnel episode is that it had nothing to do with me,” Keane wrote. “Gary Neville had come to see me just after the warm-up; it was an evening kick-off. We’d just come back into the dressing room. Gary told me that some of the Arsenal players had said something to him in the tunnel, that they weren’t going to take any nonsense – they’d be waiting for him. They said there’d be none of the carry-on that had gone on in the game at Old Trafford earlier in the season. There’d been a lot of kicking and argy-bargy during that game, and afterwards. Phil had played instead of me that day, and he’d been running around like a kamikaze pilot, running into everybody. I think Gary was now suffering the consequences of Phil’s actions. But I didn’t pay much attention to what Gary said. ‘Whatever, Gary.’ I was getting into the zone myself.”
It didn’t take long for Keane’s passion to come to the fore. “As I walked to the front I heard something going on at the top of the tunnel. All I could see was a few fingers, pointing at Gary. I lost it. Five seconds earlier, I’d been perfectly calm, in the zone, ready for the match. But, because of what Gary had said to me, I just went, ‘The fuckers – they are waiting for him.””
Keane later says that he felt it was bullying rather than intimidation on the day – but states his pleasure at United’s win, saying he felt that they ‘played like Brazil’ in the 4-2 victory.
Revisit the game here – Arsenal 2-4 Manchester United