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Soulless, passionless and plain dull: Manchester derby leaves Roy Keane scratching his head in bewilderment

A goalless draw as the weight of expectation undermines quality

Manchester United legend Roy Keane analysed the derby bore draw perfectly.

"The game was really poor. Looking at the teams, they have to show the desire to win the game," said Keane, the catalyst for many of United's fiery derbies during his 12 years at the club.

Another big occasion, and another let-down. There were few redeeming features in the 0-0 draw between United and Manchester City.

The fear of losing often seems to outweigh the desire to win when it comes to the biggest games in football, certainly for a United side which could not afford another poor result after crashing out of the Champions League in midweek.

The absence of fans will not have helped, but Keane was also bemused by the tepid nature of the match and criticised players from both teams for their display of camaraderie at the whistle. Perhaps the changing nature of football, with few of the stars steeped in Mancunian history and lacking the heart-thumping passion of fans.

"We got two bookings in a derby. I've never seen so many hugs and chats after the game. I'm scratching my head. I'm really frustrated," he complained.

"At the end, the staff are smiling and hugging, the players are chatting. Just get down the tunnel. I don't get it. Everyone wants to be pals," added the 49-year-old, whose tackle on City's Alf Inge Haaland during a derby game in 2001 effectively ended the Norwegian's career.

Keane's former United teammate Gary Neville echoed the Irishman's comments.

"There was no intent, whether on the pitch or from the managers to win the match. That was really poor, and we shouldn't accept that," Neville said.

United won last season's Premier League fixture 2-0 but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt Saturday's was a more complete display, despite the lack of intent shown by his side.

But Neville said that Solskjaer must start implementing a more attacking style of play if he is to remain in the Old Trafford hotseat.

"In the next six to eight months, they have to dominate matches. That will be the determining factor. This was okay, but it's not a tactic for United to win matches or titles," Neville added.

The Manchester giants are due to meet again on March 6 next year, and their respective league positions will go a long way to determine whether the need to win is more important as the season heads to its climax.

There will be great expectations again. Will passion win the day or will a bewildered Keane be left scratching his head again?

Published: December 13, 2020 12:24 PM

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