Was this one of Keane's best performances?

Tuesday 27 September 2022 09:44

One of the great things about the Premier League Collection in the Manchester United App is the fact you can delve a little bit deeper into all of our matches in the competition.

We see the goals and the biggest moments from classic games all the time, they are so often repeated they are etched forever in our minds, but so much else is forgotten as time passes.

The fact extended highlights are available to view does make you appreciate elements of the past that, if you haven't quite forgotten them, they merely support and reinforce your view. This is certainly true of Roy Keane's performance in his first Manchester derby, in 1993. Reliving the key passages of play from the Maine Road contest that November is just fascinating for any Reds supporter.

Manchester City 2 United 3 Video

Manchester City 2 United 3

7 November 1993: This derby clash was a game of two halves, but thankfully ended in three points for the Reds...

You suspect your judgement is sometimes clouded by the major contributions, particularly the goals, and the Irishman came up trumps late on to get on the end of his fellow countryman Denis Irwin's cross to complete a brilliant comeback and a 3-2 victory. However, I'd always thought he had been magnificent throughout the game and this is backed up by our highlights video.

I do wonder when Roy has commented that his iconic 1999 performance at Juventus was not among his best for United if this is one of the other displays he has in mind. Even if he appears his own harshest critic, this was some showing in his first taste of such an occasion and so early into what would become an unbelievable career at the club.

When showing his class at Nottingham Forest, he was the player everybody wanted. From being hugely disheartened to see him on the brink of joining Blackburn Rovers, it was a time for celebration when news filtered through that Alex Ferguson had made a decisive, late move to secure his signature. I was at his debut in the Charity Shield, against another of his suitors in Arsenal, and it was instantly apparent that this box-to-box midfielder was an absolute gem.

Dynamic does not begin to describe Keano's output on a day that started with the home fans mocking our supporters with bars of Turkish Delight, on the back of our European Cup exit to Galatasaray. Any taunts were almost soon silenced when Keane burst into the right-hand channel to cross invitingly, only for Mark Hughes and Lee Sharpe to fail to connect.

"Manchester City breathe a sigh of relief," commented Sky Sports' Martin Tyler. Keane was then knocked out of breath by an accidental collision with Peter Schmeichel, which you just know will have irritated both parties, but recovered to blast a shot on target, from an angle, that was well saved by Tony Coton. The ever-energetic midfielder then galloped through unchecked but was unable to beat Coton in a one-on-one, much to his frustration.

Another burst from Keane, said to be "revelling" in this atmosphere came to nothing, City broke and Mike Sheron's cross was nodded in by another Republic of Ireland international in Niall Quinn for the opener.

Keane worked well with Sharpe and the winger had a decent shout for a penalty but things soon got worse for the Reds when Quinn was involved in the move that ultimately led to Steve McMahon crossing for the big striker to head past Schmeichel for a second before the half was out.

City were crowing and I could be wrong but I seem to recall talk from ex-player Mike Summerbee at half-time that another 5-1 win for the Blues might be on the cards. In any case, he and the Maine Road faithful were to be silenced by a superb second-half show by United, with Keane and Eric Cantona outstanding.

The midfield man appeared to be operating on a different speed almost to everybody else on the pitch as he buzzed around, covering every blade of grass - a phrase Ferguson would use to describe that display in Turin. Cantona ruthlessly punished an error by Michel Vonk to pull one back and, after Keane set up a missed chance by Gary Pallister, he released Andrei Kanchelskis, only for Coton to again win the one-on-one duel.

A cracking game was unfolding and Schmeichel made a superb save from David White to keep United in it. What followed was sensational as Cantona tucked in a first-time centre by substitute Ryan Giggs after a delightful passage of play, with Keane and Hughes involved. We've seen the winner countless times - Sharpe's flick, Irwin's cross and Keane charging in to finish.

He'd been getting forward with purpose and intent all afternoon and this was his reward. What a player and what a performance! Do yourself a favour and take a trip down memory lane by checking out our video of the action. You'll see why Keano is still worshipped by the United fans and justification for suggesting this team, that would go on to do the Double, is one of the best in our entire history.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.