Ian Wright and Alan shearer have been discussing the famous rivalry of Manchester United’s Roy Keane and Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira on their podcast.
The pair were not only the captain’s of their respectable heavyweight sides, but both very old-school (or school of hard-knocks) in their misdemeanour, and put together, there was a number of incidents.
Ian Wright has now claimed that Patrick Vieira would be preparing for his clash with Man United weeks in advance, and it was a joy to watch.
‘It was the Keane-Vieira rivalry,’ Wright said.
‘I remember Patrick’s demeanour and intensity changing in training in the week leading up to the game against United.
‘He went up a notch, a lot sharper. It was brilliant to watch.
‘For the two players that they were, the incident in the tunnel was brilliant for those times of great players going at it. They were just winners.’
In recollection of the bust-up, the all-time Premier League goalscorer Alan Shearer added: ‘You could see it, Roy was desperate to go onto the pitching saying, “get out there and we will see”.
‘The number of times people have said they are going to take you out on the pitch or offered to fight you in the dressing room.
‘Some of the stuff that was going on when I was a 17-18 year old kid at Southampton, there were proper fights in the dressing rooms, sometimes between players and their own manager.’
There isn’t a single rivalry which can even be mentioned in the same breath as the above in today’s game, nor is there a single player with the same determination and guile.
Today’s game is very different however, with less room for the hardened tackles of yesteryear, and much more protection for players, and while you can’t argue with the added protection from injury, you can’t help but miss the passion that such encounters would fuel.
The fact that we have so many strong rivals mustn’t help to fuel such rivalries like we had with United 15-20 years ago, and I fear that we may never get to see such a rivalry again in our lifetimes.
Does the direction that football is headed in mean that the competitive edge will take a much softer form? Is there any rivalries in Europe that are worth a mention in today’s game?