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03rd Apr 2024

Pep Guardiola gets personal with Roy Keane after Erling Haaland criticism

Patrick McCarry

Roy Keane

“Their memory disappears quickly.”

Pep Guardiola has launched a passionate defence of Erling Haaland, and fired a broadside at former players like Roy Keane making disparaging remarks about current stars.

Keane has professed, on numerous occasions in the past, to be a big fan of Haaland, saying he loves watching him play.

The former Manchester United was not impressed, though, with the Manchester City striker’s all-round play, particularly in a big league encounter with Arsenal.

“The level of his general play is so poor and not just today,” Keane said on Sky Sports, following City’s 0-0 draw. “I think laying his stuff off, headers, whatever it might be…

“In terms of in front of goal, he’s the best in the world. But his general play for such a player it is so poor. Not just today, he has to improve.

“He’s almost like a League Two player, that’s how I look at him. His general play has to improve and it will do over the next few years. Being a brilliant striker is fantastic, but he has to improve his all-round game.”

Pep Guardiola responds to Roy Keane criticism

Ahead of his side’s midweek Premier League clash with Aston Villa, Pep Guardiola was asked for his take on those Roy Keane comments on Erling Haaland.

“I don’t agree with him, absolutely not,” the Spaniard replied. “It’s like if I said he’s a manager for the second or third league.

“Erling is the best striker in the world and he helped us win what we won last season. The reason why we didn’t create many chances [against Arsenal] was not Erling – it’s that we need more presence in the final third with more people. We played an exceptional game, I reviewed the game against Arsenal, but we missed more people in the final third maybe for the quality and skills that we have. Erling is exceptional.”

Guardiola was not finished there. He lit into Keane, and other former players turned pundits, for what he perceived to be a lack of empathy with current professionals. Guardiola declared:

“I’m surprised this came from a former player. From journalists, I can understand, never been on the pitch but former players is always a surprise. It’s like the referees when they retire they criticise the referees.

“How difficult is that business for the players? It always surprises me. Their memory disappears quickly. The problems the players have, they had. They missed a thousand, million times and they were hurt when they were criticised by the former players.

“But today is what it is. We have to accept it and move forward. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but I’m not going to criticise my colleagues when I retire. ‘Should be this, should be that, could do that’ – I could do it now and I don’t do it. But everyone has to live for something.

“Players have to accept it, it’s the job. If you don’t want to accept it you have to do another job. When you’re this public figure you have to accept it.’

Back when he was a player, Keane once declared he would rather ‘go to the dentist’ than become a football pundit, when he retired.

That view clearly changed, over the years, as he wanted to stay involved in the game.


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