Don’t wait around for updates – sign up for our daily football email newsletter today!
Roy Keane has criticised Kyle Walker for making “too many mistakes", suggesting the Manchester City full-back is only effective in making recovery runs because of his blistering pace.
Walker has been one of Man City’s unsung heroes over the past 12 months as Pep Guardiola’s side claimed their third Premier League title in four seasons.
The England international was used sparingly as part of Guardiola’s methodical squad rotation, making only 24 appearances in the league.
But his presence has still been crucial, with Man City winning every game he has started since December 2020 — a run stretching back 11 games.
Walker has continued that run of form by starting five of City’s six matches in the current campaign and is expected to keep his place for the crucial clash against Liverpool on Sunday.
His pace will be key to helping limit the influence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the Reds’ attack.
But Keane, speaking as a pundit on Sky Sports’ coverage for the game, believes the £49m star is fortunate to be blessed as a speed merchant atone for the errors he makes.
"That’s his job you know. You’re supposed to run back, that’s what defenders do,” Keane said, speaking before the crunch clash.
“I've been critical of him in the past, he makes too many mistakes and he relies on his pace to get him out of trouble.
"But he’s had a very good career, it’s his pace that gets him out of a lot of trouble.”
As a former right-back who played with Walker in the England setup, Micah Richards was keen to put up a stern defence for his former international team-mate and hit back at Keane for his comments.
"You know when people say it’s his pace that gets him out of trouble, if you’re a number 10 and he uses his brain, he’s playing to his attributes,” he said.
“Look at Man City going forward, when someone tries to counter-attack, he’s always there.
“I’ve seen improvement from when I was challenging him for that right-back spot [for England] then when he was at Spurs — at times he was a headless chicken — but his game’s has developed so much.
"I understand the mistakes, at times he made a few, but I would put him up there with the top three full-backs in the world right now.”
Don't miss a thing with our football updates!
Want to be on the ball with all of the latest football news?
Well then sign up for the brilliant Daily Star football email newsletter!
From the latest transfer news to the agenda-setting stories, get it all in your email inbox – don't miss a thing.
How do you sign up?
It only takes a matter of seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article and hit 'subscribe'.
And that's it, job done. You'll receive an email with all of the top news stories every single morning.
You can find out more information on our email newsletter on this link here.
Jamie Carragher weighed in on the debate and appeared to side with Richards, pointing to Walker’s incredible recovery pace as a positive attribute rather than a negative one.
The 31-year-old was also praised for keeping Joao Cancelo out of the team after Man City paid £52m to sign him from Juventus in 2019.
"You’re talking about his recovery pace for the team, Man City have a lot of the ball and he’s brilliant,” Carragher added.
“Sometimes he doesn’t even fly forward, he just plays as a centre-back if someone counters them.
“I think what Roy’s talking about is because he is so blessed physically you can lose your concentration and actually being there for the team but it does get him out of trouble.
“But I like him, he’s a fantastic player, he’s England’s right-back.
“Man City and Pep Guardiola can buy any right-back in the world and they went for Kyle Walker, brought Cancelo in but still plays him in every game.
“Whenever you think of your team and you’ve got someone with the afterburners like that it can get him but also his team out of trouble.”
But Keane wasn't done, doubling down on his comments about Walker's lapses in concentration, before reluctantly accepting that the right-back is performing well.
"I can be quite critical with defenders, especially when it’s a head job," Keane added.
"That’s what irritates me: the concentration. But [he's a] big player for Man City and England, so the kid's doing something right."
Man City can climb to the top of the Premier League if they manage to defeat unbeaten Liverpool at Anfield, with Chelsea currently at the summit with 16 points from seven games.
- Premier League
- Manchester City FC
Source: Read Full Article