Roy Keane has praised Pep Guardiola for his decision to sell star players like Gabriel Jesus and Joao Cancelo last summer, as Manchester City lifted the Premier League trophy. City celebrated winning their fifth title in six seasons on Sunday following a 1-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday, after being crowned champions following Arsenal’s defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Much praise has been directed at their recruitment over the years, most notably win the addition of striker sensation Erling Haaland last summer. But the Citizens also lost a number of big players before the start of the campaign, many to rival clubs, including Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal and Raheem Sterling to Chelsea. Cancelo also departed for Bayern Munich on loan in January following a fallout with Guardiola, a transfer that shocked many after the full-back had played such a pivotal role for City in the last two title wins.
Following the celebrations at the Etihad, Keane praised Guardiola’s decision to move on these players, saying it helped keep the mentality and the hunger of his squad fresh to keep winning trophies. ‘The recruitment, the way he’s moved players on,’ the Manchester United legend told Sky Sports while pinpointing what’s made Guardiola and City so successful over the past few seasons. ‘City’s recruitment has been fantastic but the way they’ve moved players on – players coming towards the end of their careers or players who Pep maybe talked about getting fed up with him – he’s moved them on so he’s kept that hunger. The biggest challenge is always within the group and he’s clearly got brilliant players with brilliant characters. We saw him earlier in the season upsetting plenty of players – he upset [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Kyle] Walker, [John] Stones, Cancelo – he got rid of Cancelo – and he moved Jesus on. He knows what he’s doing, this man, he’s done it consistently and that’s a sign of greatness. To keep winning, what he’s doing, the style of play and the hunger, we see the enjoyment he’s getting and it’s like his first title. Amazing.’
City will now be hoping to become only the second English team to win the treble, with the FA Cup and Champions League finals coming up in the next few weeks. Keane captained United’s 1998/99 treble winning side and while he praised City’s current team, was keen not to compare the two, adding: ‘Man City are brilliant attacking but they’ve got great pride in their defending, clean sheet today, a great goalkeeper. ‘Man City are a great team. I like watching them. It’s okay to have the debate, but it’s difficult to compare. I’d like to think my United team could compete against City.’