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Erling Haaland


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16 hours ago, Vesper said:

if no Håland, it is down to only 2 realistic (and still crazy hard pulls) options who are good enough (the rest are impossible or too old for long term (Lewa and Immobile)

Lautaro Martinez or DCL are it, I would go for DCL myself (I have been saying this for a year)

after that, the drop off is massive (or involves impossible pulls, like Mbappe or Kane or Lukaku)

IF we miss out on CL and Everton make it, DCL will not leave them for us (and uder any crstances, he will be insane expensive)

so it may just default to Lautaro

BUT

there is one one Håland, and the other 6 clubs (besides us) fighting over him will SO SO SO move for Lautaro IF they miss out on Håland

 

its is somewhat likely we get absolutely ASSED OUT and get none of the 8

and just trod on with what we have or but a huge step-down level player

Victor Osimhen has been a huge bust at Napoli, only 2 goals, all comps, in 1000 minutes

Firmino is 30 year old near the start of next season, and is not a lead the line type at all and why would he come here anyway, I think he is going to drop off in a year or two anyway

there simply are not a lot of great CF's out there at all, and most will not leave the clubs they are at

 

we do have 2 great youth CF's

Armando Broja (on loan at Vitesse)

Jude Soonsup-Bell

 

 

DCL is my shout as a more realistic option. 

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He does not offer much else when he does not score goals and he is clearly very dependent on his teammates giving him good passes. He is currently nowhere near Mbappe level because even when Mbappe do

LOL If that's the kind of money they want, no one is gonna pay for it, especially when clubs are still counting the cost of the pandemic. 

This season yes, last season two German sides made it while the runaway champions were dumped out by a diluted Atletico and the 2nd place team were dumped out by the 10th place French side. Not to men

14 hours ago, R2D2 said:

Maybe a German can tell us more but isn't Bild somewhat reliable only for German players, whereas competing with Don Balon in terms of reliability for everything else?

The article mentions he considers only 6 clubs as his possible destinations, but for starters this feels completely absurd by what logic would Haaland come to this conclusion in just March especially when the likes of Liverpool and United might not even make the CL whereas we might and how would they know what he thinks?

Another thing I read today is that Haaland might be unsure of us because of our small chance creation in the final 3rd but if we go by that logic Juventus and United are just as dire as us, at least we have the excuse the new players haven't yet glued and better things are yet to come but Juventus and United are proper pants in chance creations just as much as us if not worse.

It is probably that he and his family know the North West/North fairly well as he was born there and his Dad played there. They most likely still have friends or even property in the area. 

London for me isn't going to be much of a pull for him as he isn't flashy or a party animal. 

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‘It was done in cold blood’ – Keane’s assault on Haaland’s dad, 20 years on

https://theathletic.com/2413728/2021/03/05/it-was-done-in-cold-blood-keanes-assault-on-haalands-dad-20-years-on/

It was done in cold blood' - Keane's assault on Haaland's dad – The Athletic

Whenever Roy Keane appears on television in his role as a football pundit, David Bernstein, the former chairman of Manchester City, reaches for his remote control and switches to another channel.

Bernstein’s reputation throughout the football industry, including a two-year stint as chairman of the Football Association, is as one of the gentlemen of the sport.

But he has always found it hard to accept Keane’s presence on television when he thinks back to one of the more infamous episodes in the history of the Manchester derby.

Next month is the 20th anniversary. It was the day Alf-Inge Haaland — better known now, perhaps, as the father of Erling — encountered Keane at Old Trafford. And, no matter how many times you watch the footage, it is never any less shocking to see the moment when Keane brings down his studs on Haaland’s knee and his opponent flips into the air.

“I’ve never forgotten it,” Bernstein says. “From a personal point of view, that was the worst individual thing I’ve been directly involved in, and the worst I’ve ever seen on the pitch. As a human being, it was an awful thing to see.”

These days, a new generation of football fans might not even be aware of the history that exists between, in the red corner, the angriest television pundit in the business and, in the blue corner, a former player with a surname that we are going to hear a lot more of in the coming years.

Haaland Sr might not have the star quality of Erling — “His mother must have been a good player because his dad was a plodder,” Graeme Souness, Keane’s colleague on Sky Sports, once said of Borussia Dortmund’s wunderkind — but he was a versatile player who ended up with 34 caps for Norway and played almost 200 times in the Premier League.

He had helped Leeds United to a UEFA Cup semi-final and reached the quarter-final with Nottingham Forest in the same competition before that 2001 derby, as City’s captain, when the ball bounced up between himself and Keane.

“Alfie was a very good guy,” Bernstein says. “He was a good bloke, a very good player and a very important part of our squad. It was a tragedy of a sort. To happen in a local derby, in front of a huge crowd, it really was appalling.”

Erling was in the corner, three years old, playing with his toys. His brother, Astor, and sister, Gabrielle, completed the sea of blond hair. A Christmas tree was up and, briefly trying to lighten the mood, his father smiled as he reflected how “everything right now is shepherds, angels and Santas.”

It was December 2003, two and a half years since Keane bore down on Haaland and, in the words of Joe Royle, City’s manager at the time, “hit him with the force of a sledgehammer.”

Haaland had agreed to a one-off interview to talk about his new life as a former footballer, in the past tense, and the incident for which his career will always be remembered.

He had been forced to retire, aged 30, because of injury and it did not need long to realise he was nursing a bad knee and an even worse grudge.

He said he was not bitter, yet his words were laced with hostility. He did not refer to Keane by name. It was always “he” or “him” or, on one occasion, “that man”. He confirmed he was taking legal advice about suing Keane, and maybe even Manchester United, because “he set out to hurt me” and “they don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves”. He was trying to put on a brave face. But there were glimpses of hurt, too.

What nobody could have known at the time was that Erling, then just a toddler, would grow up to become one of the superstars of his generation and that, all these years later, the club he had grown to resent would love to see “Haaland” on the back of that famous red shirt.

“I see his son doing so well now,” Eamon Dunphy, who plays a pivotal role in this story, tells The Athletic. “He’s going to be a superstar. I watched him playing for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League … wow! If we can persuade his agent, Mino Raiola, to deal with Manchester United, it would be great because the young Haaland is an absolutely marvellous player.”

Dunphy is the formidable Irish writer, broadcaster and television pundit whose own playing career started as an apprentice at Old Trafford in the 1960s.

He is also highly relevant to this story because he was Keane’s ghostwriter for the 2002 autobiography that depicted the assault on Haaland as premeditated and opened United’s captain to the possibility of legal action.

Haaland had been told he had grounds to claim significant damages and the abiding memory of that interview, sitting opposite him in the village where he lived just outside Leeds, is that he would punctuate what he was saying by making a stabbing motion with his hand.

He didn’t sound like a man, it has to be said, who wanted to be persuaded to see United in a better light.

“I know I have a strong case,” he said. “I’ve had about 20 lawyers wanting to take the case, which says it all. I probably would have finished with it all by now if it hadn’t been for his book and their (United’s) attitude. He felt he had to put it in a book (stabbing motion) and I don’t have a good thing to say about Man U. He has not acted like a normal human being and they are just as bad.

“They have been twisting the knife all along. You would expect something better, and probably get it, from any other club but that’s obviously Man U’s attitude towards other clubs and players. They don’t give a damn about anyone, you know? It’s probably why so many people dislike them.”


One thing about Roy Maurice Keane: he never forgets.

“He was a warrior,” Dunphy says. “I think Alf Inge was a warrior as well. But maybe he picked the wrong fight.”

It all went back to a game against Leeds at Elland Road, in September 1997, when Haaland was playing for the Yorkshire club.

Haaland was in midfield and, though he was never a classic destroyer, he knew how to put himself about. He could play in defence, too, and he liked to put in a tackle. But there were not many of his team-mates who knew him particularly well.

“He was a bit awkward,” says one former colleague. “I couldn’t say anything too bad about the guy, he just didn’t mix very well. He wasn’t always the most popular member of the dressing room.”

On one occasion at Forest, Haaland decided to wind up Stan Collymore about the fact his team-mate attended so many funerals (as an excuse for missing training) that the manager, Frank Clark, used to say it was amazing he had any family members left. That was a mistake. Collymore administered a right-hander and Haaland had to pick himself up from the floor.

Then it came to that game for Leeds when, in Keane’s mind, it felt suspiciously like Haaland had been assigned to do a particular job on him.

“He’d done my head in,” Keane would later write in his autobiography. “He was winding me up from the beginning. The late tackles I could live with, they were a normal part of football. But the other stuff — pulling my shirt, getting digs in off the ball — really bugged me. At times Haaland wasn’t even following the play, just concentrating on me.”

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Keane kicks out at Haaland during Manchester United’s fixture with Leeds in 1997, injuring himself in the process (Photo: Peter Wilcock/EMPICS via Getty Images)

The vein on Keane’s temple was throbbing. Leeds were winning 1-0 and, with 85 minutes gone, he went after Haaland. He wanted to trip him up, nothing too serious. But Keane’s studs caught in the turf as he went to make the challenge. He felt his knee give way. He heard something snap and, as he lay on the floor, Haaland appeared above him, telling him to quit faking it and get to his feet.

Keane’s cruciate ligament had ruptured. It was the injury that footballers always feared the most and United’s physiotherapist, Dave Fevre, knew it was bad news.

“I remember assessing his knee and thinking, ‘Wow, this is a big shout’. Roy, being Roy, was telling me he could carry on. We had a huge match against Juventus coming up on the Wednesday night but I was looking at his knee and thinking, ‘This ain’t right’. I spoke to the doctor at Leeds and asked if he would give me a second opinion. He came into our dressing room to have a look. He looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, what you’re feeling is right’.”

Keane was out of action for nearly a year and, knowing what we do about him, it is not easy to imagine the silent fury that built up in his mind. Keane could never let it go that, while he was at his most vulnerable, Haaland had been leaning over him and accusing him of putting it on. The grudge festered. David Wetherall, another Leeds player, had also told Keane to get up. Keane didn’t forget that, either. But Haaland was the priority.

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Haaland stands over a stricken Keane, who would never forget his words (Photo: Peter Wilcock/EMPICS via Getty Images)

It is the most infamous passage ever written in any book by a United player.

I’d waited almost 180 minutes for Alfie, three years if you look at it another way. Now he had the ball on the far touchline. Alfie was taking the piss. I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that, you cunt. And don’t stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal Wetherall there’s some for him as well.

Jeff Whitley was the nearest City player as the referee, David Elleray, showed Keane a red card. “It was a shocking tackle,” Whitley says. “I wasn’t really aware at the time about the tackle (at Leeds) before. It was only afterwards you start to get the information. But if I remember it correctly, Keane had actually gone to ‘do’ Alfie Haaland at Leeds and ended up doing himself. For young people, you want them to look up to the top players and yes, Keane was a leader and a winner. But it was shocking.”

Bernstein was watching from the Old Trafford directors’ box. There were, he says, some “very decent people at United” who would have felt embarrassed by their player’s actions.

“Roy Keane stood over him and basically said, ‘Take that, you bastard’. It was done in cold blood,” he says. “It was a cold-blooded incident. I have never forgiven Keane for that. I think, frankly, it’s dreadful he’s accepted in football the way he is. After doing something like that, I think it’s absolutely appalling. Whenever Keane turns up on television, I switch off. I just won’t watch it. I’m appalled that he’s still involved with football. It’s just not right. Things happen, injuries do happen, but to do it deliberately and admit it the way he did, to sell his book, I think is completely beyond the pale.”

In fairness to Keane, Dunphy has always been willing to accept that he used his own artistic licence on the relevant book passage. Keane did read it back, ticked it off and approved it to be published that way. But it is important to remember that it was Dunphy’s use of language that made it sound like a scene from a Martin Scorsese film.

“I took responsibility for interpreting Roy’s words as I did,” Dunphy says. “It was a ghosted autobiography, so I put in the quotes and attributed them to Roy and that cost him dearly. I was sorry I got Roy into trouble and that he faced a charge from the FA and got punished quite severely.”

Dunphy also made that clear at the FA inquiry in which Keane tried to argue that, in reality, there was no premeditation.

“I’d played against Haaland three or four times between the game against Leeds, in 1997, when I injured my cruciate, and the game when I tackled him, in 2001, when he was playing for Manchester City,” Keane later wrote. “If I’d been this madman out for revenge, why would I have waited years for the opportunity to injure him?”

But then Dunphy was asked whether Keane had deliberately set out to injure Haaland. “Without a doubt,” he said. And that, plainly, was key evidence in the case against the book’s author.

For that, Dunphy is unapologetic. “They had form previously,” he says. “Haaland had accused Roy of faking injury, which was not something Roy did. He said something very provocative, because the idea that Keane would fake an injury is hard to justify or sustain. He got under Roy’s skin and Roy took his revenge.

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Keane leans over Haaland and offers his thoughts after exacting revenge in 2001 (Credit: Gary M Prior/Allsport)

“That was Roy. He was a great player because he had that sort of intensity. At times, it was a rage. There was another occasion with Alan Shearer, for example, when it got out of hand. Roy was what he was. He’s one of the greatest players we have ever seen and this was part of his DNA.”

The FA had brought in a QC, Jim Sturman, to cross-examine Keane. Sturman was more accustomed to dealing with murder cases and, in Keane’s words, “had me on toast. He ripped me to pieces — the fucker. It was his job, to rip me to pieces.”

It ended with Keane being given a five-match ban, to add to the four he had already served for being sent off, and a fine of £150,000. Keane’s legal bills were £50,000. He had also been fined two weeks’ wages by United. And, for a while, there was the possibility that it could escalate even further.

As Haaland faced up to the possibility that he might be finished as a professional footballer, City had brought in lawyers to see whether they had their own grounds to sue. “Absolutely we had,” Bernstein says. “We felt very strongly about it.”


There was one major issue with Haaland’s legal case against Keane: the Norwegian’s own website.

City’s lawyers were investigating whether there was a case against United for the loss of an employee, his medical bills and the collapse in Haaland’s transfer valuation. Haaland was seeking damages for the loss of income and status. There was talk of a £6 million lawsuit. It was major news and led to a serious deterioration in relations between the Manchester clubs.

But a few weeks after the incident — still a year before Keane brought out his book — an article was published on Haaland’s website that was largely unreported at the time but would later be held against him.

The headline was “Knee Injury Wasn’t Caused By Keane” and he went on to write: “I want to make it clear that it was not the knee that took a knock in the Manchester derby, despite what some newspapers have reported. It’s my left knee that’s been bothering me and it was clearly shown on Sky that it was my right knee that took the knock. It’s been bothering me for three months.”

Was there a medical argument that his standing leg sustained damage from the force of the impact to the other knee? Was Haaland’s existing injury aggravated because of the collision? That was the case Haaland appeared to be putting forward when we spoke in December 2003. “People always say that (it was the other knee), but it just makes me laugh,” he said. “If you ask any doctor or physiotherapist, or anyone who plays the game, they know differently. Where you get the blow might be bruised and sore for a few days, but it’s where your standing leg is on the ground and gets twisted that causes cartilage and ligament injuries.”

Over time, however, it became clear that other people at City did not necessarily share that prognosis.

“Alfie’s leg might well have still been in orbit had it been planted on the ground when Keane struck,” Royle wrote in his autobiography. “The point is that Alfie had seen him coming and taken evasive action, or as near as damn it, a split second before impact. Our physio told me afterwards, ‘He will be fine. He saw the tackle coming and rode it’. In the mass of publicity following the incident, the fact that Haaland started our next match, at home to West Ham, was often overlooked.”

It was true. Haaland also played for Norway four days after the incident (though he did limp out of both games). And if you pay close attention to the video of the Keane incident, you will also notice Haaland is already wearing a white bandage around his left knee.

“The fact is, though badly shaken by the tackle, Alfie did not suffer an injury that day which put his career in jeopardy,” is Royle’s verdict.

The lawyers, Bernstein says, decided in the end that there was not enough hard evidence. “The legal action revolved around medical advice and that was not as absolutely clear-cut as you might have wanted.”

Roy Bailey, then City’s physio, also appears to have doubts. Indeed, Bailey was widely reported to have told the FA hearing that Haaland’s injury was neither caused nor compounded by Keane. That, plainly, is a sensitive subject given the cross-Manchester rivalries. Bailey has told The Athletic he does not want to talk about it.

Twenty years on, Haaland has no appetite to discuss it either. He is 48 now, with a category-A footballer in the family, and it would make no sense for him to reopen an old feud, especially when both Manchester clubs are among his son’s potential buyers.

Might what happened back then have any impact on whether United could, in theory, persuade the 20-year-old Haaland to choose them ahead of City? At Old Trafford, they don’t think it should matter, especially as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed the player at Molde and has kept in touch with him ever since. Yes, it is all a bit awkward, but United’s view is that it was a long time ago and hopefully not a factor.

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Alf-Inge and Erling at Dortmund, where he chose over a move to United (Photo: Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images)

“My impression is that Alfie and the team around Erling Haaland have one main interest and that is Erling Haaland,” says Dag Langerod, the Norway-based chief editor for United’s Scandinavian supporters’ club. “Everyone I have talked to, who knows or has talked to people who know Alfie, accept that Roy and Alfie will never be best friends, but not one of these people believe the Keane-Alfie incident will affect Erling’s club choice.”

All that can really be said for certain is that Erling’s father never made another 90-minute appearance. He underwent a number of operations and travelled to the United States to see the specialist, Dr Richard Steadman, who was credited with saving the careers of Alan Shearer, Jamie Redknapp and various others.

“Haaland finished the game and played four days later for Norway,” Keane wrote in his follow-up autobiography, The Second Half, released in 2014. “A couple of years later he tried to claim that he’d had to retire because of the tackle. He was going to sue me. It was a bad tackle but he was still able to play four days later.”

As for that moment when his studs connected with Haaland’s knee, Keane’s verdict was almost as brutal as the challenge itself. “Looking back at it now, I’m disappointed in the other Manchester City players,” he wrote. “They didn’t jump in to defend their team-mate. I know that if someone had done that to a United player, I’d have been right in there. They probably thought that he was a prick, too.”

Nor was Haaland going to receive much sympathy from United’s supporters. One front cover of Red Issue, United’s most acerbic fanzine of the time, showed him wearing a City shirt and a badge for “Captain Gobshite.”

Keane’s relationship with Dunphy also suffered but not, as commonly thought, just because of this episode.

“He asked me to write his book,” Dunphy explains. “Not because we were close particularly, but I’d always been supportive of him. There was a lot of stuff in the Irish press early in his career when he was a young man and he’d come back for his summer holidays, have a few drinks and get into scrapes. But I always defended him and reminded people what a great player he was.

“After that (writing the book), I went back to being a journalist and when Roy was managing at Sunderland I was critical of something he had done. The next day, I got a phone from his solicitor friend, Michael Kennedy, saying, ‘I thought we were friends’. I had to tell him, ‘I’m a journalist, not a PR man’ and at that stage the relationship froze.”

Perhaps it is no surprise that when Keane brought out his second autobiography he hired a different ghostwriter, Roddy Doyle, and is critical of Dunphy’s work.

Dunphy takes the view, meanwhile, that Keane “is not cut out for management because he has no tolerance for people”.

It is fair to say they don’t sound like friends any more. “He was assistant manager for Martin O’Neill over here (Ireland) and he got into all kinds of scrapes, fights with Jon Walters, Harry Arter and stuff like that,” Dunphy says. “He’s a great pundit, great on Sky, but when he was in management with Sunderland and Ipswich he was very hard on players. I’ve spoken to people who played for him and it was a bad experience for them.

“I’ve no problem with Roy. In many ways I admire him as a player, and as a person, but there’s a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to him.”

Edited by Vesper
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2 minutes ago, Blues Forever said:

Losing both Sancho and Haaland in one window would be very bad for Dortmund. 

If Dortmund don't qualify for the Champions League, then they may be forced to sell both in one window. Otherwise, they would likely sell only one of them and keep the other for at least one more season. 

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Erling Haaland: Chelsea join Man United, rest of Europe in transfer battle (espn.com)

"Senior figures at Chelsea believe they can tempt Borussia Dortmund and tempt Erling Haaland into moving to the Premier League this summer, according to ESPN sources, as a growing number of Europe's heavyweights plot their moves.

Sources told ESPN that Chelsea feel there are several elements in their favour, not least an attractive financial package, but also the prospect of Haaland becoming the centre-piece of a young, expensively assembled team.

Chelsea spent £220 million on six players last summer but there are indications behind the scenes that owner Roman Abramovich is willing to sanction further spending this summer. Chelsea are the only club in London with a realistic chance of signing Haaland and sources said the capital city could be a major draw for the striker, in addition to the club's ambition to win the biggest trophies every year."

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On 05/03/2021 at 15:37, Vesper said:

‘It was done in cold blood’ – Keane’s assault on Haaland’s dad, 20 years on

https://theathletic.com/2413728/2021/03/05/it-was-done-in-cold-blood-keanes-assault-on-haalands-dad-20-years-on/

It was done in cold blood' - Keane's assault on Haaland's dad – The Athletic

Whenever Roy Keane appears on television in his role as a football pundit, David Bernstein, the former chairman of Manchester City, reaches for his remote control and switches to another channel.

Bernstein’s reputation throughout the football industry, including a two-year stint as chairman of the Football Association, is as one of the gentlemen of the sport.

But he has always found it hard to accept Keane’s presence on television when he thinks back to one of the more infamous episodes in the history of the Manchester derby.

Next month is the 20th anniversary. It was the day Alf-Inge Haaland — better known now, perhaps, as the father of Erling — encountered Keane at Old Trafford. And, no matter how many times you watch the footage, it is never any less shocking to see the moment when Keane brings down his studs on Haaland’s knee and his opponent flips into the air.

“I’ve never forgotten it,” Bernstein says. “From a personal point of view, that was the worst individual thing I’ve been directly involved in, and the worst I’ve ever seen on the pitch. As a human being, it was an awful thing to see.”

These days, a new generation of football fans might not even be aware of the history that exists between, in the red corner, the angriest television pundit in the business and, in the blue corner, a former player with a surname that we are going to hear a lot more of in the coming years.

Haaland Sr might not have the star quality of Erling — “His mother must have been a good player because his dad was a plodder,” Graeme Souness, Keane’s colleague on Sky Sports, once said of Borussia Dortmund’s wunderkind — but he was a versatile player who ended up with 34 caps for Norway and played almost 200 times in the Premier League.

He had helped Leeds United to a UEFA Cup semi-final and reached the quarter-final with Nottingham Forest in the same competition before that 2001 derby, as City’s captain, when the ball bounced up between himself and Keane.

“Alfie was a very good guy,” Bernstein says. “He was a good bloke, a very good player and a very important part of our squad. It was a tragedy of a sort. To happen in a local derby, in front of a huge crowd, it really was appalling.”

Erling was in the corner, three years old, playing with his toys. His brother, Astor, and sister, Gabrielle, completed the sea of blond hair. A Christmas tree was up and, briefly trying to lighten the mood, his father smiled as he reflected how “everything right now is shepherds, angels and Santas.”

It was December 2003, two and a half years since Keane bore down on Haaland and, in the words of Joe Royle, City’s manager at the time, “hit him with the force of a sledgehammer.”

Haaland had agreed to a one-off interview to talk about his new life as a former footballer, in the past tense, and the incident for which his career will always be remembered.

He had been forced to retire, aged 30, because of injury and it did not need long to realise he was nursing a bad knee and an even worse grudge.

He said he was not bitter, yet his words were laced with hostility. He did not refer to Keane by name. It was always “he” or “him” or, on one occasion, “that man”. He confirmed he was taking legal advice about suing Keane, and maybe even Manchester United, because “he set out to hurt me” and “they don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves”. He was trying to put on a brave face. But there were glimpses of hurt, too.

What nobody could have known at the time was that Erling, then just a toddler, would grow up to become one of the superstars of his generation and that, all these years later, the club he had grown to resent would love to see “Haaland” on the back of that famous red shirt.

“I see his son doing so well now,” Eamon Dunphy, who plays a pivotal role in this story, tells The Athletic. “He’s going to be a superstar. I watched him playing for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League … wow! If we can persuade his agent, Mino Raiola, to deal with Manchester United, it would be great because the young Haaland is an absolutely marvellous player.”

Dunphy is the formidable Irish writer, broadcaster and television pundit whose own playing career started as an apprentice at Old Trafford in the 1960s.

He is also highly relevant to this story because he was Keane’s ghostwriter for the 2002 autobiography that depicted the assault on Haaland as premeditated and opened United’s captain to the possibility of legal action.

Haaland had been told he had grounds to claim significant damages and the abiding memory of that interview, sitting opposite him in the village where he lived just outside Leeds, is that he would punctuate what he was saying by making a stabbing motion with his hand.

He didn’t sound like a man, it has to be said, who wanted to be persuaded to see United in a better light.

“I know I have a strong case,” he said. “I’ve had about 20 lawyers wanting to take the case, which says it all. I probably would have finished with it all by now if it hadn’t been for his book and their (United’s) attitude. He felt he had to put it in a book (stabbing motion) and I don’t have a good thing to say about Man U. He has not acted like a normal human being and they are just as bad.

“They have been twisting the knife all along. You would expect something better, and probably get it, from any other club but that’s obviously Man U’s attitude towards other clubs and players. They don’t give a damn about anyone, you know? It’s probably why so many people dislike them.”


One thing about Roy Maurice Keane: he never forgets.

“He was a warrior,” Dunphy says. “I think Alf Inge was a warrior as well. But maybe he picked the wrong fight.”

It all went back to a game against Leeds at Elland Road, in September 1997, when Haaland was playing for the Yorkshire club.

Haaland was in midfield and, though he was never a classic destroyer, he knew how to put himself about. He could play in defence, too, and he liked to put in a tackle. But there were not many of his team-mates who knew him particularly well.

“He was a bit awkward,” says one former colleague. “I couldn’t say anything too bad about the guy, he just didn’t mix very well. He wasn’t always the most popular member of the dressing room.”

On one occasion at Forest, Haaland decided to wind up Stan Collymore about the fact his team-mate attended so many funerals (as an excuse for missing training) that the manager, Frank Clark, used to say it was amazing he had any family members left. That was a mistake. Collymore administered a right-hander and Haaland had to pick himself up from the floor.

Then it came to that game for Leeds when, in Keane’s mind, it felt suspiciously like Haaland had been assigned to do a particular job on him.

“He’d done my head in,” Keane would later write in his autobiography. “He was winding me up from the beginning. The late tackles I could live with, they were a normal part of football. But the other stuff — pulling my shirt, getting digs in off the ball — really bugged me. At times Haaland wasn’t even following the play, just concentrating on me.”

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Keane kicks out at Haaland during Manchester United’s fixture with Leeds in 1997, injuring himself in the process (Photo: Peter Wilcock/EMPICS via Getty Images)

The vein on Keane’s temple was throbbing. Leeds were winning 1-0 and, with 85 minutes gone, he went after Haaland. He wanted to trip him up, nothing too serious. But Keane’s studs caught in the turf as he went to make the challenge. He felt his knee give way. He heard something snap and, as he lay on the floor, Haaland appeared above him, telling him to quit faking it and get to his feet.

Keane’s cruciate ligament had ruptured. It was the injury that footballers always feared the most and United’s physiotherapist, Dave Fevre, knew it was bad news.

“I remember assessing his knee and thinking, ‘Wow, this is a big shout’. Roy, being Roy, was telling me he could carry on. We had a huge match against Juventus coming up on the Wednesday night but I was looking at his knee and thinking, ‘This ain’t right’. I spoke to the doctor at Leeds and asked if he would give me a second opinion. He came into our dressing room to have a look. He looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, what you’re feeling is right’.”

Keane was out of action for nearly a year and, knowing what we do about him, it is not easy to imagine the silent fury that built up in his mind. Keane could never let it go that, while he was at his most vulnerable, Haaland had been leaning over him and accusing him of putting it on. The grudge festered. David Wetherall, another Leeds player, had also told Keane to get up. Keane didn’t forget that, either. But Haaland was the priority.

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Haaland stands over a stricken Keane, who would never forget his words (Photo: Peter Wilcock/EMPICS via Getty Images)

It is the most infamous passage ever written in any book by a United player.

I’d waited almost 180 minutes for Alfie, three years if you look at it another way. Now he had the ball on the far touchline. Alfie was taking the piss. I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that, you cunt. And don’t stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal Wetherall there’s some for him as well.

Jeff Whitley was the nearest City player as the referee, David Elleray, showed Keane a red card. “It was a shocking tackle,” Whitley says. “I wasn’t really aware at the time about the tackle (at Leeds) before. It was only afterwards you start to get the information. But if I remember it correctly, Keane had actually gone to ‘do’ Alfie Haaland at Leeds and ended up doing himself. For young people, you want them to look up to the top players and yes, Keane was a leader and a winner. But it was shocking.”

Bernstein was watching from the Old Trafford directors’ box. There were, he says, some “very decent people at United” who would have felt embarrassed by their player’s actions.

“Roy Keane stood over him and basically said, ‘Take that, you bastard’. It was done in cold blood,” he says. “It was a cold-blooded incident. I have never forgiven Keane for that. I think, frankly, it’s dreadful he’s accepted in football the way he is. After doing something like that, I think it’s absolutely appalling. Whenever Keane turns up on television, I switch off. I just won’t watch it. I’m appalled that he’s still involved with football. It’s just not right. Things happen, injuries do happen, but to do it deliberately and admit it the way he did, to sell his book, I think is completely beyond the pale.”

In fairness to Keane, Dunphy has always been willing to accept that he used his own artistic licence on the relevant book passage. Keane did read it back, ticked it off and approved it to be published that way. But it is important to remember that it was Dunphy’s use of language that made it sound like a scene from a Martin Scorsese film.

“I took responsibility for interpreting Roy’s words as I did,” Dunphy says. “It was a ghosted autobiography, so I put in the quotes and attributed them to Roy and that cost him dearly. I was sorry I got Roy into trouble and that he faced a charge from the FA and got punished quite severely.”

Dunphy also made that clear at the FA inquiry in which Keane tried to argue that, in reality, there was no premeditation.

“I’d played against Haaland three or four times between the game against Leeds, in 1997, when I injured my cruciate, and the game when I tackled him, in 2001, when he was playing for Manchester City,” Keane later wrote. “If I’d been this madman out for revenge, why would I have waited years for the opportunity to injure him?”

But then Dunphy was asked whether Keane had deliberately set out to injure Haaland. “Without a doubt,” he said. And that, plainly, was key evidence in the case against the book’s author.

For that, Dunphy is unapologetic. “They had form previously,” he says. “Haaland had accused Roy of faking injury, which was not something Roy did. He said something very provocative, because the idea that Keane would fake an injury is hard to justify or sustain. He got under Roy’s skin and Roy took his revenge.

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Keane leans over Haaland and offers his thoughts after exacting revenge in 2001 (Credit: Gary M Prior/Allsport)

“That was Roy. He was a great player because he had that sort of intensity. At times, it was a rage. There was another occasion with Alan Shearer, for example, when it got out of hand. Roy was what he was. He’s one of the greatest players we have ever seen and this was part of his DNA.”

The FA had brought in a QC, Jim Sturman, to cross-examine Keane. Sturman was more accustomed to dealing with murder cases and, in Keane’s words, “had me on toast. He ripped me to pieces — the fucker. It was his job, to rip me to pieces.”

It ended with Keane being given a five-match ban, to add to the four he had already served for being sent off, and a fine of £150,000. Keane’s legal bills were £50,000. He had also been fined two weeks’ wages by United. And, for a while, there was the possibility that it could escalate even further.

As Haaland faced up to the possibility that he might be finished as a professional footballer, City had brought in lawyers to see whether they had their own grounds to sue. “Absolutely we had,” Bernstein says. “We felt very strongly about it.”


There was one major issue with Haaland’s legal case against Keane: the Norwegian’s own website.

City’s lawyers were investigating whether there was a case against United for the loss of an employee, his medical bills and the collapse in Haaland’s transfer valuation. Haaland was seeking damages for the loss of income and status. There was talk of a £6 million lawsuit. It was major news and led to a serious deterioration in relations between the Manchester clubs.

But a few weeks after the incident — still a year before Keane brought out his book — an article was published on Haaland’s website that was largely unreported at the time but would later be held against him.

The headline was “Knee Injury Wasn’t Caused By Keane” and he went on to write: “I want to make it clear that it was not the knee that took a knock in the Manchester derby, despite what some newspapers have reported. It’s my left knee that’s been bothering me and it was clearly shown on Sky that it was my right knee that took the knock. It’s been bothering me for three months.”

Was there a medical argument that his standing leg sustained damage from the force of the impact to the other knee? Was Haaland’s existing injury aggravated because of the collision? That was the case Haaland appeared to be putting forward when we spoke in December 2003. “People always say that (it was the other knee), but it just makes me laugh,” he said. “If you ask any doctor or physiotherapist, or anyone who plays the game, they know differently. Where you get the blow might be bruised and sore for a few days, but it’s where your standing leg is on the ground and gets twisted that causes cartilage and ligament injuries.”

Over time, however, it became clear that other people at City did not necessarily share that prognosis.

“Alfie’s leg might well have still been in orbit had it been planted on the ground when Keane struck,” Royle wrote in his autobiography. “The point is that Alfie had seen him coming and taken evasive action, or as near as damn it, a split second before impact. Our physio told me afterwards, ‘He will be fine. He saw the tackle coming and rode it’. In the mass of publicity following the incident, the fact that Haaland started our next match, at home to West Ham, was often overlooked.”

It was true. Haaland also played for Norway four days after the incident (though he did limp out of both games). And if you pay close attention to the video of the Keane incident, you will also notice Haaland is already wearing a white bandage around his left knee.

“The fact is, though badly shaken by the tackle, Alfie did not suffer an injury that day which put his career in jeopardy,” is Royle’s verdict.

The lawyers, Bernstein says, decided in the end that there was not enough hard evidence. “The legal action revolved around medical advice and that was not as absolutely clear-cut as you might have wanted.”

Roy Bailey, then City’s physio, also appears to have doubts. Indeed, Bailey was widely reported to have told the FA hearing that Haaland’s injury was neither caused nor compounded by Keane. That, plainly, is a sensitive subject given the cross-Manchester rivalries. Bailey has told The Athletic he does not want to talk about it.

Twenty years on, Haaland has no appetite to discuss it either. He is 48 now, with a category-A footballer in the family, and it would make no sense for him to reopen an old feud, especially when both Manchester clubs are among his son’s potential buyers.

Might what happened back then have any impact on whether United could, in theory, persuade the 20-year-old Haaland to choose them ahead of City? At Old Trafford, they don’t think it should matter, especially as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed the player at Molde and has kept in touch with him ever since. Yes, it is all a bit awkward, but United’s view is that it was a long time ago and hopefully not a factor.

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Alf-Inge and Erling at Dortmund, where he chose over a move to United (Photo: Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images)

“My impression is that Alfie and the team around Erling Haaland have one main interest and that is Erling Haaland,” says Dag Langerod, the Norway-based chief editor for United’s Scandinavian supporters’ club. “Everyone I have talked to, who knows or has talked to people who know Alfie, accept that Roy and Alfie will never be best friends, but not one of these people believe the Keane-Alfie incident will affect Erling’s club choice.”

All that can really be said for certain is that Erling’s father never made another 90-minute appearance. He underwent a number of operations and travelled to the United States to see the specialist, Dr Richard Steadman, who was credited with saving the careers of Alan Shearer, Jamie Redknapp and various others.

“Haaland finished the game and played four days later for Norway,” Keane wrote in his follow-up autobiography, The Second Half, released in 2014. “A couple of years later he tried to claim that he’d had to retire because of the tackle. He was going to sue me. It was a bad tackle but he was still able to play four days later.”

As for that moment when his studs connected with Haaland’s knee, Keane’s verdict was almost as brutal as the challenge itself. “Looking back at it now, I’m disappointed in the other Manchester City players,” he wrote. “They didn’t jump in to defend their team-mate. I know that if someone had done that to a United player, I’d have been right in there. They probably thought that he was a prick, too.”

Nor was Haaland going to receive much sympathy from United’s supporters. One front cover of Red Issue, United’s most acerbic fanzine of the time, showed him wearing a City shirt and a badge for “Captain Gobshite.”

Keane’s relationship with Dunphy also suffered but not, as commonly thought, just because of this episode.

“He asked me to write his book,” Dunphy explains. “Not because we were close particularly, but I’d always been supportive of him. There was a lot of stuff in the Irish press early in his career when he was a young man and he’d come back for his summer holidays, have a few drinks and get into scrapes. But I always defended him and reminded people what a great player he was.

“After that (writing the book), I went back to being a journalist and when Roy was managing at Sunderland I was critical of something he had done. The next day, I got a phone from his solicitor friend, Michael Kennedy, saying, ‘I thought we were friends’. I had to tell him, ‘I’m a journalist, not a PR man’ and at that stage the relationship froze.”

Perhaps it is no surprise that when Keane brought out his second autobiography he hired a different ghostwriter, Roddy Doyle, and is critical of Dunphy’s work.

Dunphy takes the view, meanwhile, that Keane “is not cut out for management because he has no tolerance for people”.

It is fair to say they don’t sound like friends any more. “He was assistant manager for Martin O’Neill over here (Ireland) and he got into all kinds of scrapes, fights with Jon Walters, Harry Arter and stuff like that,” Dunphy says. “He’s a great pundit, great on Sky, but when he was in management with Sunderland and Ipswich he was very hard on players. I’ve spoken to people who played for him and it was a bad experience for them.

“I’ve no problem with Roy. In many ways I admire him as a player, and as a person, but there’s a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to him.”

What story. ManUre are absolute fools if they think that episode will play no part in Haaland’s decision. 
 

keane is just a short bitter grumpy old man who played as such even when he was young. 

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14 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

 

Looking at Haaland's crazy numbers, I do wonder if he's really a rare goalscoring freak or whether he's peaking too early and that the numbers would eventually plateau to a normal rate at some point. Messi or Ronaldo wasn't even posting such numbers at 20 years old. 

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You know, it's kinda funny that we're all out here saying we need a #9 striker when Liverpool won the league last season without one - Firmino, a false 9 of sorts, scored only 12 goals, although Salah and Mane mostly scored them - and Man City are gonna win this season's title without a proper #9. Jesus is a central striker I guess but he has only 6 goals and below are City's league scorers this season:

Gundogan - 11 goals
Sterling - 9
Mahrez - 7
Jesus - 6
Foden - 6
Stones - 3
De Bruyne - 3
Silva - 2
Torres - 2
Mendy (+ 5 other players) - 1

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7 minutes ago, Jason said:

You know, it's kinda funny that we're all out here saying we need a #9 striker when Liverpool won the league last season without one

We can do the same if other players produce goals. I would say Werner has 20+ PL goals in him. Havertz 15+, Pulisic 10+. Ziyech and Mount should also give us 6 or 7 goals. 

Tammy and Olie have great goalscoring record.  CHO, Alonso, James, Silva, Rudi, Zouma, Azpi also can score a couple.

If Kai, Puli, Timo and Hakim produced what we expected from them I think we would not really say that we need Haaland. And eventually they will.

With defense like this we basically need to score once to win, sometimes twice.

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3 hours ago, NikkiCFC said:

We can do the same if other players produce goals. I would say Werner has 20+ PL goals in him. Havertz 15+, Pulisic 10+. Ziyech and Mount should also give us 6 or 7 goals. 

Tammy and Olie have great goalscoring record.  CHO, Alonso, James, Silva, Rudi, Zouma, Azpi also can score a couple.

If Kai, Puli, Timo and Hakim produced what we expected from them I think we would not really say that we need Haaland. And eventually they will.

With defense like this we basically need to score once to win, sometimes twice.

Be a bit premature to assume Timo has 20+ PL goals in him next season. Or Havertz having 15+ considering they’ve only scored 6 between them this season in the PL.

What player has gone from scoring 5 goals to 20 the following season? When do players score 20+ PL goals anyway in a season? Its uncommon.

Pulisic if fully fit can get over 10 because he showed last season he is capable of arriving in the box and being clinical. When Werner and Havertz show they are capable of even getting 10+ in the PL then we can start talking about 20 or 15 goals.

Only been Kane, Salah, Sterling, Aguero, Mane, Vardy, Aubamayang in recent seasons off top of my head who have got 20 or more. Been a few more Ings last season also and then if you go back further the likes of Suarez, Torres, Drogba, Lampard Yaya Toure etc but these types of players arent as common now, who get 20+ PL goals. And if they are, they are the top top players.

Werner and Havertz are undeniably good players but wont get excited to they’ve at least done something of note.

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