What would David Moyes give to have Roy Keane as skipper now?
A few weeks ago Sir Alex Ferguson, launching his new autobiography, slaughtered Manchester United’s former captain Roy Keane’s personality, claiming he was too aggressive and overly abusive to his team-mates when they lost.
Basically, he said Keane in the twilight of his career, was an out-of-control nutter and had to go.
I said at the time that Sir Alex was wrong to carry out a public character assassination to settle a grudge or sell his book, because at his peak Keane was a warrior, one of the finest players to pull on a United shirt and a great skipper.
What would David Moyes give to have someone with that passion and desire to win in his side now?
Keane in his pomp makes the current crop of Manchester United players look like a bunch of clueless schoolboys desperate for a leader, the ultimate competitor, to inspire them.
It’s all very well pointing the finger at Moyes as United continue to struggle under his tenure and, admittedly, he is ultimately responsible but every manager, no matter how talented they are, can only be as good as his players.
And when things don’t go well he needs his captain, someone with a strong personality and perhaps even an air of menace, to encourage and inspire on the pitch.
The current captain is Nemanja Vidic, although you could have fooled me.
Maybe I missed it but I did not recall seeing him revving up his team-mates when their heads went down against Newcastle, who enjoyed their first victory at Old Trafford for 41 years.
Where was the aggressive desire, fighting spirit and passion-filled encouragement that were so characteristic of Keane’s captaincy?
Do you think Keane would have let central defender Jonny Evans admit he and his team-mates had lost their confidence as he did to the media yesterday? No way.
He would demand a positive response not an excuse for failure which serves to boost the confidence of their next opponents.
A lack of self-belief, creativity and the kind of ruthless attacking play typical of the reds when they are in champion’s form is obviously something Moyes needs to address quickly but Vidic has to step up to the plate and prove he is worthy of the captain’s armband.
There doesn’t seem to be much unity at United at the moment with stories of Robin van Persie wanting to leave, although that has been denied, and Rio Ferdinand whingeing about the fact the manager doesn’t name his team until match day.
The fact that United have now lost five league games so far this season, three at home including two consecutive EPL defeats at Old Trafford for the first time since 2002, and are languishing in ninth place with their title hopes all but over is testimony to a lack of clear leadership from both the manager and the captain.
Sacking Moyes is not an option although he can’t keep blaming transition for United’s problems.
He deserves time and I am sure he will get there eventually, but there must be a shared responsibility.
United need a strong captain in the Keane mould to give the side extra motivation and restore the self-belief.
With no warrior there can only be more woe.