Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted to “having a bit of a fight” with Roy Keane during Manchester United’s training sessions and once told his then captain to “break free”.
And yet, is Solskjaer alive and well to remember? Amazing. The truth is that Norway has made it clear that standing up and returning fire in Keane was – in his eyes – the only way to gain the respect of the fiery Irish midfielder.
When asked by football magazine FourFourTwo whether he had ever pissed off Keane during their playing days together, the current Manchester United manager answered forcefully in the affirmative.
“How many times!” Solskjaer said. “Roy and I are good friends – we talk a lot.
“But we had some arguments, if you can call them that. I told him to leave, because the only way he could respect you was if you stood up for you.”
Solskjaer is still one of the team’s former teammates that Keane respects and has defended Man United’s manager on numerous occasions, while others in the game rarely get much freedom from his tongue lash the old United skipper.
Apparently, the inclusion of a new signing with Keane during training was part of the start-up process at United when Solskjaer arrived in 1996, so players could develop the mental strength to play for the club.
“There was a four or five week period where I was on Roy’s team every day training and he was screaming and shouting, because he demanded 100% from those he believes in,” Solskjaer said.
“So I went to [assistant coach] Steve McClaren and I said, ‘Fuck, Steve, I’m on the same team every day.’
“He said, ‘Oh, you noticed! It’s a mental development to defend yourself against Roy. You did, so you moved on.'”
It doesn’t seem like the kind of control we’d like. But he clearly worked for Solskjaer as the manager has since said that if he could sign a modern version of one of his fellow Manchester United players in 1999, he would take Keane because of the standards high he set for his fellow players.
Almost a year ago, Roy Keane insisted #MUFC should give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer more time to return the club to the top 📈
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 13, 2021
Solskjaer has even asked Keane to come in and talk to his team in the past, though we can’t confirm whether Fred ever told Roy to “fuck” and earn him respect, as his current manager did time.