Roberto Firmino feels Roy Keane’s criticism of Manchester United and Liverpool players “hugging and kissing” before a Premier League game was over the top, with such behaviour considered to be “normal”.
The former Red Devils midfielder hit out at the actions of certain individuals as two supposedly arch-rivals lined up in the tunnel before a meeting at Old Trafford.
Keane was never the kind to indulge in pre-match pleasantries during his playing career, with the outspoken Irishman taking issue with how the game has changed in recent years.
He told Sky Sports: “I’m disgusted with the players. You’re going to war, they’re hugging and kissing.
“Don’t even look at the opposition. You’re going into battle against them.
“The game hasn’t changed that much, the players have changed.
“You’re going to war against these players and they’re hugging each other.
“Chat to them after the game, or don’t even chat to them after the game.”
Keane’s comments should come as no surprise, given how he approached every match he figured in, but Firmino believes they are unnecessary.
The Brazil international forward was among those to greet familiar faces with a smile as he prepared to do battle with United.
Fellow countrymen Fred and Andreas Pereira were named in the Red Devils’ starting XI and Firmino was happy to see them before crossing the white line.
He told ESPN Brasil when quizzed on Keane’s reaction: “I don’t want to create controversy with anyone.
“I find it quite normal before the game to greet each other, ask how they are doing. That’s all. Nothing more than that.
“But, on the pitch, they aren’t friends, each one defends his club to the best of his ability. Then the rivalry increases on the pitch.”
Keane clearly feels that friendships should be put to one side for the entirety of a matchday, with the heat of Premier League competition no place for niceties.
United and Liverpool, after sharing the odd warm embrace prior to kick-off, went on to split the spoils in a keenly-fought contest at Old Trafford.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring in the first half, but the hosts were unable to build on that lead and saw Adam Lallana snatch an equaliser five minutes from the end.
A draw means Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table has been cut to six points, while United are languishing down in 14th spot with just 10 points taken from nine games.