The Manchester derby is coming up on Sunday, and fans of both teams will be hoping for goals and excitement and moments of magic and for someone out there to love them. But really, what they’ll be secretly hoping for is a generous helping of good ol’ fashioned unnecessary violence.
Let’s take a look back at some of the best moments of lunacy and over-the-top aggression that this local rivalry has served up over the years, ranked in ascending order of WTFness.
1. Marouane Fellaini is enjoying something of a renaissance in a Manchester United shirt these days (if you count a game and a half as a renaissance, that is), but last season he was nothing short of disastrous. His most notable contribution was hilariously running the ball straight out of touch in a Champions League quarterfinal, and doing this while his team was getting twatted by its local rivals:
Though a deliberate elbow is a respectable bit of violent aggression, Fellaini’s general hopelessness made this less enjoyable than it could have been. The end result is something more pathetic than mad. Decent effort, Marouane, but you can do better.
Madness Rating: 1.27 out of 5 Bearded Roy Keanes
2. Breaking news: The 1990s were two whole decades ago. Yeesh. You’re old. Soccer has come a long way since then. For example, Mark Hughes trying to kick Niall Quinn in the head during a 1993 Manchester derby was referred to as “fairly rough house,” and not “warranting a lengthy ban.”
(11 minutes, 26 seconds)
Wonderful sequence of events here. Hughes blatantly stamps on a player, gets kicked, kicks back, gets kicked again, shoves the same player, gets punched by a second player, gets up, gets hacked down by a third player, and more face-shoving and elbow-throwing ensues. End result: one yellow card. Bonus result: the surreal sight of Roy Keane and Eric Cantona trying to diffuse the situation.
Madness Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Bearded Roy Keanes
3. There’s nothing like a bit of throwback madness. In the 1970-71 season, United was on its way to becoming a global behemoth, in no small part due to the talents of their “Holy Trinity” of Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, and George Best. Best, the sport’s first true superstar, was renowned for his otherworldly dribbling skill and eye-catching goals. He was less renowned for a two-footed off-the-floor lunge that broke Glyn Pardoe’s leg, but he did that too.
There are so many marvelous things in this clip. Not only does the leg-breaking tackle not get called for a foul, but Best is only given a yellow card after the referee has conferred with his assistant. The commentators are bewildered as to why Best has been booked for “clearly just an accidental collision.” Simpler times.
Madness Rating: 3 out of 5 Bearded Roy Keanes
4. You should never kick a man when he’s down. Unless of course that man is wearing a Manchester United kit, and you are wearing a Manchester City kit, and the relevant authorities (referee, police officer, etc.) aren’t looking. It counts double if that man happens to be the best player on the planet and you happen to be considerably less good.
Case in point: Michael Ball going all WWE on Cristiano Ronaldo’s ribcage for no apparent reason.
Now, that’s how you leave a mark. Later in that game, Ball fouled Ronaldo to concede the penalty from which Ronaldo scored to win the game. Ronaldo would then go on to win the league that year, win a few more league titles after that, win a couple of Champions League medals, win a couple of Ballon d’Or trophies, date a supermodel, and accrue a net worth in the nine-figure range. Michael Ball would go on to play for Leicester City.
Madness Rating: 4.1732 out of 5 Bearded Roy Keanes
5. Now we come to the man to whom this rating system is dedicated, and his most infamous incident of on-field violence. Roy Keane was a superb midfielder – a box-to-box colossus with an underrated range of passing, and an excellent reading of the game. He is also a complete and utter madman.
In a Manchester derby in September 1997, Alfie Haaland committed the unforgivable sin of accusing Roy Keane of faking an injury. Keane, who really was injured, decided to take revenge the following year with what can be generously described as a rough tackle. Or can be more accurately described as attempted fucking murder.
It’s not so much that Keane didn’t go for the ball, it’s that he doesn’t seem to care that the ball is anywhere near to Haaland at all. Keane, quickly realizing how rash his behavior had been, immediately apologized. Hahaha. Just kidding. According to his own autobiography, he thought to himself, “Take that, you cunt.”
Madness Rating: 5 out of 5 Bearded Roy Keanes