'He needs to understand football's changed': Ex-Manchester United man slams Roy Keane

Close-up shot of Roy Keane
Roy Keane (Image credit: James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Former Manchester United (opens in new tab) midfielder Nemanja Matic has delivered a frank response to Roy Keane's criticism of him last season.

Matic left United this summer after five years at Old Trafford, subsequently reuniting with Jose Mourinho at Roma (opens in new tab).

The 34-year-old announced his departure in April and faced former club Chelsea in one of his final games in England – after which he admitted that he still had a soft spot for the Blues, where he had two spells prior to joining United.

That promoted Keane – who won seven Premier League titles with United and captained them for eight years – to question Matic's commitment. He said:

"Where's the standards at [United]? Where's the desire to keep going, keep going until the end?

"The players... Matic talking about, 'I'm leaving; I've had a great time... Man United will always be in my heart. Oh, and Chelsea as well, by the way – oh, and Benfica; don't forget them'.  They can't all be in your heart."

Nemanja Matic, Manchester United

Matic made 189 appearances for United (Image credit: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

In an interview with The Times, Matic reflected on Keane's comments and had some strong words for the 51-year-old pundit. He said (opens in new tab):

"I have respect for what he has done [in the game], but he needs to understand that football has changed.

"If I played for Chelsea, I cannot say I hate them. I cannot be angry when I'm talking to the press after the game."

Matic went on to call out Keane's notoriously fiery on-field behaviour, adding:

"The way he behaved on the pitch, 70% of it is a red card today. You cannot throw a punch when all the cameras in the world are there."

Keane infamously punched Middlesbrough's Jan Aage Fjortoft during a Premier League clash in October 1995.

But Matic insisted that he didn't take Keane's comments to heart, explaining:

"The real hero is when you go out on the street and say something, but he was always very nice with me, so what he says in public, to be honest, I don't really care. I know what I've done in my career and I'm very happy."

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