Alan Smith still thinks Man Utd are trying to replace Roy Keane 15 years on from his Old Trafford departure.
Keane played 480 matches in all competitions for the Red Devils, winning seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a Champions League before his exit in 2005.
Man Utd are currently struggling to bring back the glory days under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and former Red Devils man Smith – who deputised for Keane in a defensive midfield role when his team-mate was struggling with fitness – thinks the current side are crying out for a player like Keane.
“Roy Keane is probably impossible to replace as a player and as a character, especially at Manchester United,” Smith told the Utd Podcast.
“I still don’t think it’s been done now, and it’s been crying out for someone like Roy Keane to be in the dressing room and on the field as Roy was.
“No-one could ever replicate it, so it was [about me] trying to do as good a job in a similar position. It wasn’t like, ‘you’re going to be a Roy Keane’. I could never do that job.”
When put to him that Keane is seen as overrated by some, Smith added: “You could ask any player that’s played with him or against him and I’d say 99 per cent of them would all have the same answer for you.
“For me, it’s not just a case of Roy being a leader. That’s so disrespectful to him as a footballer as well.
“You don’t play for Manchester United and captain them based on just being a leader. That’s such an unfair criticism of someone who’s probably been one of the Premier League’s greatest central midfield players.”