Only A Game? - Best of Enemies? More like the best of times...

Patrick Viera and Roy Keane.
Patrick Viera and Roy Keane.

I have made no secret of my indifference towards modern day football but on Wednesday Roy Keane and Patrick Viera made me remember again what it was to feel inspired and entertained by the sport.

Keane and Viera have both hung up their boots but ITV’s ‘Keane and Viera: Best of Enemies’ was as entertaining a clash as any of their tete-a-tetes down through the years.

Patrick Viera is a former Arsenal captain and was revered by supporters and fellow players alike.

Roy Keane is a former Manchester United captain and was revered and is still feared buy supporters and players alike.

Viera was superior to Keane when it came to technical skill but when it came to the win at all costs and a never say never attitude, no-one could touch Keane.

Keane was the kind of player that if you were in the same team as him, you’d believe you could beat every other club you came up against. His mental strength was unbreakable.

The world of football doesn’t boast the kind two player clashes we were used to with these two over ten years ago.

Nowadays, footballers are more concerned with how much money they are getting paid, who they are going out with and their sponsorship deals.

That’s not to say that there was no such attitudes like the aforementioned held when Keane and Viera were playing, but at least back then it was in the minority.

Viera spent almost ten years at Arsenal and Keane was with Manchester United for 12. They were stalwarts of their respective clubs and the fact they were allowed so much time to ply their trade at the top level of English football gave birth to one of the most awesome rivalries the league ever saw.

Money and unrealistic expectation has ruined the modern game and vegetables in a supermarket have a longer sell-by date than most footballers.

If a player doesn’t cut the mustard almost immediately he is replaced with someone else.

Footballers are commodities for their multi-million pound owners and if the face doesn’t fit then it’s a case of so long and thanks for all the fish. This conveyor belting of players doesn’t permit rivalries such as that of Patrick Viera and Roy Keane.

As each season comes and goes so do clubs’ defenders, midfielders and strikers. From week to the next Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City could field entirely different squads in two different games.

I am not for one moment suggesting that football clubs should abandon striving towards strength and depth but I preferred a time when one Roy Keane and one Patrick Viera was enough for one club.

It’s 2013 and football teams don’t seem to be happy unless they three or four different versions of the exact same player.

When players like Roy Keane and Patrick Viera were playing football, the game had an edge to it.

Clashes at Old Trafford and Highbury were almost Shakespearean, they were that full of drama.

As the two old foes sat opposite one another during Wednesday evening’s show it was a stark reminder of how enthralling football once was and how utterly bland and banal it has now become.