Roy Keane believes former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson still seeks to exert "control and power" at Old Trafford, spurred by a "massive ego", despite handing the reins to David Moyes last summer.
Keane dismisses Ferguson's account of the relationship between the two and the Corkman's hurried departure from United as "nonsense" and "wrong", and even rejects attempts by his former manager to praise him as "insulting".
In an interview to be broadcast by ITV tonight, Keane gives his first significant and considered response to Ferguson's recent autobiography, which was notably critical of his former captain. Keane aims blow after blow at Ferguson, the man who signed him for United in 1993 and ushered him out the door a dozen years later.
Asked to describe their relationship today, Keane replies: "Non-existent." Asked if he felt let down by Ferguson, Keane states: "No, nothing surprises me with that man."
Asked Ferguson's main strength, Keane says: "Ruthlessness." And, most tellingly of all, Keane is asked to name the best manager he played under.
There is a long pause before he answers. "Brian Clough," he says.
"Everything is about control and power," says Keane of Ferguson. "He's still striving for it now, even though he's not manager. There's massive ego involved in that."
Keane was ushered out of Old Trafford in 2005 in the wake of an interview with the club's TV station in which he criticised team-mates. Keane disputes Ferguson's version of events -- Ferguson said the interview was a "disgrace".
"He is wrong with that one," says Keane. "Just because Alex Ferguson says it (it) doesn't mean it's the truth. He is absolutely wrong."
Keane does agree with Ferguson that this was the end of the line for them. He says: "I had obviously lost respect for him and he had lost respect for me."
On the deterioration in the relationship between Ferguson and John Magnier, then a United director, over the racehorse Rock Of Gibraltar, Keane said:
"If people don't think that had a negative impact on the club then they are living in cloud cuckoo land."
The incident was touched on only briefly in Ferguson's book.
Keane also dismissed Ferguson's most lavish praise, hailing his performance in the 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus in Turin.
He said: "Stuff like that kind of insults me. That was my job. It is like praising the postman for delivering mail." (© Independent News Service)
By Robin Scott-Elliot