I recently watched a video on Youtube called Best of Enemies (Part 1 and Part 2). It was a short documentary based around the rivalry of Patrick Vieira vs Roy Keane. Those that grew up watching the game in the late 90's and early 2000's are familiar with those names and have probably seen a few tussles between the two.
The game back then seemed to have more of a blue collar mentality, leaving it all on the field, playing with passion. In terms of English Soccer, there is no doubt that the 2000's was quite possibly the best era for that. The rivalries were like no other. In regards to the video I watched, Manchester United didn't like Arsenal, and the feeling was mutual. Teams aside Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira are players in my opinion that the youth should be watching today. Watch any one of their highlights and you will see heart, passion, desire to do whatever you could for your team.
Roy Keane may have been the greatest captain Manchester United has ever seen. Even praise from Sir Alex Ferguson didn't seem to impress him. Ferguson was once quoted saying about Keane: “Hounding every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him,” Ferguson said. “I felt as if it were an honour to be associated with this player.” Keane responded with: “Stuff like that almost kind of insults me, what am I supposed to do? Give up? Not cover every blade of grass? Not do my best for my teammates? Not do my best for my club? To be honest I actually get offended when people throw quotes like that at me as if I’m supposed to be honoured by it. It’s like praising the postman for delivering your letters. He’s supposed to. It’s his job." Quite a controversial reaction to one of the games greatest managers, but non the less it humbly makes sense.
Vieira was no different when it came to Arsenal and France. They knew they had a job to do as a center midfielder and that was to do whatever it took to win. When watching Keane vs Vieira it was almost a game based on intimidation, in which neither would budge. Check out this pregame tunnel incident between the two. If that didn't get the adrenaline pumping for a rivalry match, I don't think there is much else that can.
But what happened to those kind of players? Ones that competed for 90 minutes, gave it all for his team. Some of those players I can think of besides Keane and Vieira are Gerrard, Gattuso, Ambrosini. I know I am missing a ton more. Compare that to the players no and who can you think of? Kante? Sadly a player like that seems to be underrated.
No doubt the modern game has certainly shifted, but what caused such a dramatic shift? Increased wages? Social media presence? I do not want to take the other aspects of the game, such as technical players, tactical etc. I just want to focus on what I think is the lack of the blue collar players.
What do you think?