McShane recalls tough love shown by Keane
Former Manchester United defender Paul McShane has spoken about the ‘tough love’ shown to him by captain Roy Keane when he was a youngster at the club.
On the latest episode of UTD Podcast, which is available to listen to from today, the 35-year-old centre-back remembered the excitement at first breaking into Sir Alex Ferguson’s senior set-up, ahead of a tour to the United States in 2004.
The future Republic of Ireland international never actually played a competitive game for the Reds, but featured alongside Keane as part of a makeshift defence during a friendly with Bayern Munich, which he says was a ‘brilliant’ experience.
“I remember there was talk that a few lads would get called up because there were quite a few injuries,” recalls McShane. “So then I got the call and it was amazing like, it really was.
“I was going on tour with Manchester United. It was a really great experience. I ended up playing a game, I think it was in Chicago maybe. We played Bayern Munich. [Roque] Santa Cruz was up front and stuff.
“The three at the back was me on the right-hand side, Roy Keane in the middle and Jonathan Spector on the left.
“It was a 0-0 draw and I think we lost on penalties but it was brilliant. It was great to be with the first team every day and see how they acted and all that.”
The game itself may have gone okay but working with Roy and the senior players during the week was another matter.
If McShane expected the notoriously no-nonsense Keane to go easy on him in training because of his nationality, he soon realised he had another thing coming.
“He was my biggest hero growing up,” Paul continues. “I did okay in the games, but didn’t do well in training. He used to hammer me in training.
“I remember there was one training session out in America. I gave the ball away in the possession game – probably more than once to be honest – and he hammered me. He absolutely slaughtered me and I was so shocked.
“I was running away from the ball then. I didn’t want to touch the ball from then on in. Afterwards he was like ‘it’s tough love, you’ve got to learn. You can’t be the young lad forever. You’ve got to learn.’”
McShane is now a veteran of almost 400 senior games and currently plays for Rochdale after spells with the likes of West Brom, Sunderland, Reading and Hull City, where he helped the Tigers to a first-ever FA Cup final, in 2014.
But the lesson Roy taught him as a teenager still resonates.
“Something that I took away from that was ‘yeah, I suppose you can’t be the young lad forever.’ I’ve been to clubs where people still think they’re young when they’re 24.
“They don’t really crack on, they don’t take responsibility as a professional, a senior player. It was a good tip from Roy but it was tough love.
“I was terrified in training then but, in the game, I played alright and he gave me a bit of praise afterwards.”
Listen to Paul McShane’s UTD Podcast on all of your favourite podcast platforms now.