Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane has stunned the club and its supporters by confirming he expects to leave Old Trafford at the end of the current campaign.
The combative Irishman, a legend at the club, was expected to extend his long and illustrious relationship at United beyond this season, when his contract expires.
It had been assumed that he would be offered at least another year, possibly with coaching duties, as he begins to prepare for a career past playing.
However, Keane has now cast major doubts over such a suggestion by revealing he does not see his future being at United beyond the present season.
The 34-year-old admits it would be difficult to play for another Premiership club but that the prospect of playing in another country did appeal.
"I would like to play another year or two but I do not think it will be at Manchester United," he told MUTV.
"I would be surprised if I was offered a new contract and even if I was, I would not expect it to be until the end of the season but by then I will have already made a decision about what I am going to do.
"There comes a time for everybody when they have to move on and I am prepared to play elsewhere.
"I think it will be good to experience a different dressing room. It wouldn't be an English team though, coming back to Old Trafford and going into the away dressing room would be too hard for me to stomach."
Cork-born Keane has made no secret of his desire to one day wear the green and white of Celtic and it would be no surprise if he is seen plying his trade in Scotland next term.
Keane insists he is not trying to force United's board to make him an offer, merely suggesting that he has other options should he elect to quit Old Trafford next summer - including management.
"I am not putting a gun to anybody's head," said Keane.
"But my gut reaction last season was this would be my last year and I still feel that way.
"You have to learn and be prepared to move on. Life will not stop when I leave Manchester United.
"It might be an opportunity to go into management or coaching somewhere else and it is best to make a clean break because coaching at Manchester United doesn't really appeal.
"I don't want to look too far ahead because I want to play on for a bit yet but I wouldn't want to drop too far down.
"Your first job in management is an important one. I would like to go to a club with ambition, a decent fan base and some decent players."
Me thinks he'll do a Shearer and stay one more year. -AmadeusDC-
I dont think so, i think he will leave and best of luck to him, one day i hope he may have the chance to coach the irish team, he would be great at that, but looking on the brighter side who will replace him? i cant see Smith doing so perhaps O'Shea? or maybe a newbie.
Last edited by west cork rebel; 30-09-2005 at 12:27 PM..
what concerns me most about his statement is, to me it shows that all isn't right behind the scenes at old trafford and he wants to get out especially as fergie wants him to stay... i might be paranoid and blowing the whole man utd situation up but it seems to me there are bid prolems at OT!