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blunt wisdom Gary Neville insists Roy Keane has been branded with an image that is not justified

Roy Keane had created headlines aplenty in his role with Sky Sports

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Roy Keane rarely holds back in his role as pundit (Nick Potts/PA)

Roy Keane rarely holds back in his role as pundit (Nick Potts/PA)

Roy Keane rarely holds back in his role as pundit (Nick Potts/PA)

Gary Neville believes his former Manchester United teammate Roy Keane is a pundit that everyone wants to listen to, as he insisted the Irishman's blunt style makes for compelling viewing.

Former Republic of Ireland captain Keane has become one of the most talked about football pundits since he became a regular contributor on Sky Sports, but he has been criticised for being too brutal at times in outspoken criticism of star players.

Keane labelled Manchester City defender Kyle Walker "an idiot" and a "car crash" after his display against Liverpool in November, while he was also highly critical of the Manchester United duo David De Gea and Harry Maguire.

Having played alongside Keane at United, Neville is familiar with his brand of brass Cork opinions and he told sundayworld.com that his straight-talking ensures he is the pundit all fans want to listen to.

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Roy Keane and Gary Neville on Sky Sports

Roy Keane and Gary Neville on Sky Sports

Roy Keane and Gary Neville on Sky Sports

"Roy Keane was the most influential player on the football pitch that I ever played with, without a shadow of a doubt in terms of the influence he had on his other team-mates," began Neville.

"Now on TV he is equally as compelling, particularly in the big moments because when they come you want to hear what Roy Keane is going to say.

"That's how he was as a player - you wanted him in the big matches and central to the big moments in the season."

Neville also believes Keane's reputation as a firebrand is not entirely justified, as he suggests his off-camera persona is very different.

"I knew him as a player and off the pitch and off it and it was different," added Neville. "Off the pitch, he is compelling company, charming, funny, humorous and tells a story.

"When he switches onto the screen or the pitch, he sees it as serious business and that's exactly as it is now.

"For me he has not changed at all from when he was a player, in terms of when he's not engaged and in game, be that TV or when he was playing."

Meanwhile, former Manchester City defender Micah Richards has opened up on his improbably on-screen bond with Keane on Sky, as he told talkSPORT that the banter the two enjoy off-camera is all good-natured.

"Because I'm the blue half of Manchester, you always have respect for those guys and their careers, but never did I think that we would have a relationship like that," said Richards of Keane.

"Working with him is just an absolute pleasure, a massive blessing. Honestly! Sitting beside him, sometimes I look to the right and I'm just in awe of the guy. He's an incredible character and just a top guy."

Keane has not been given a chance as a manager in over a decade after his time at Ipswich ended in disappointment and while he has proved to be a big hit with Sky Sports viewers, he still has ambitions to get back into the game as a coach.

Additional reporting by: Kieran O'Connor

Arsenal v Manchester United is live on Sky Sports this Saturday at 5.30pm.

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