Ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown says even referees were in awe of Manchester United players under Sir Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford reign.
Ahead of tonight’s Premier League clash between United and Arsenal at the Theatre of Dreams, Keown says both clubs have long since lost the aura they had when they were England’s top two teams in the 1990s and early 2000s.
And the former Gunners centre-half recalled how he would argue with referees when he felt they were getting sucked in by United’s superstar status.
“I want to talk about aura,” Keown wrote in his column for Mail Online .
” Manchester United had that back in the day. They had household names. Teams went there to make up the numbers.
“I remember having words with referees in the tunnel because they seemed to get caught up in it, too.
“With me, it would be, ‘Oi, Keown, come here.’
“With United’s players, such was the respect they were shown, it would be ‘Roy’, or ‘David’, or ‘Ryan’, and so on.
“I wasn’t having that. I’d tell the referee to treat us the same, to call us by our first names, too. But that was an example of the aura they had, especially at home.”
Keown described Monday night’s game as an opportunity for Arsenal to register a big win away from home.
And Keown said the fact United needed penalties to overcome Rochdale in the Carabao Cup last week was evidence that the intimidating aura of Old Trafford has been lost.
He said: “Even Arsenal, a side that have struggled away from home under Unai Emery, should go there thinking they can get something.
“After his team’s struggles on the road last season, Emery should see this as an opportunity to turn a corner. For Arsenal to finish fourth, they have to conquer that Achilles’ heel of theirs, and winning at Old Trafford would be a fine start.”