Martin Keown: It's a tough trip, on and off the pitch

07 May 2011 12:31
ShareI played in lots of big games at Old Trafford and it was never easy. It's a tough and intimidating place to go . . .


The fun starts before the game. I remember staying overnight in the Lowry Hotel and being woken up at four in the morning by someone moving a crane outside our window. It was deliberate and made a lot of noise. There was another time when someone set off the fire alarm and we were out in the car park in the middle of the night.

Every time we went there was an incident to disrupt us.

Pressure cauldron: Martin Keown (centre) screams at Rudd van Nistelrooy as Arsenal played at Old Trafford


Old Trafford is not like the Emirates or St James' Park,where the coach arrives in an enclosed, fairly private area. You are in a coned-off part of the street and the second you step off the coach, you are heavily booed. It's not nasty but you can certainly hear it!


The away dressing room is odd. There is very little privacy and there are all sorts of people walking about. We made a point of leaving the door open for most of the time, as if to say, 'We're not hiding'. The room is almost hideously small compared with the stadium.

There are a few showers, a tiny toilet area, no warm-up area and it's not particularly grand. Apart from the few pizzas flying around, there was always decent food put out for you, though.

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The first time you go on to the pitch can be quite scary. Part of our warm-up was to run right across the pitch to get a good look around and let people know, 'We're here now'. We would strut our stuff a bit, take the booing and look forward to the game. I always felt calm at Old Trafford because the fans were not on top of you like at Anfield. They were far enough away from the pitch.

TUNNEL TACTICSThe tunnel is the nearest thing there is to the old Wembley because there is a slope on to the pitch. It goes down at Old Trafford and it adds to the expectation of finally getting out there.

There was no intimidation in the tunnel from United but we would always be waiting for them to come out of the dressing room.


The entrance to the pitch is different because it is in the corner and there is a long walk to the centre circle. It is as if the crowd are given as long as possible to worship and applaud their heroes. For the opposition, it is as if the fans are daring you to look at them.

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Some referees used to call the United players by their first names and us by our surnames, which made you feel you were at a disadvantage. It must be intimidating for the referee too no wonder so few penalties get given against them there!


THE sheer size of the club and the occasion is enough to give United three points most weekends. There are so many who are beaten before they arrive. Liverpool used to have the same aura. But once you're on the pitch everyone is equal. I used to love that. It was just 11 v 11. Arsene Wenger didn't have to say anything for our big games there and Carlo Ancelotti will be the same.The Chelsea players will know what is at stake and what they have to do. It's about keeping people calm. But Chelsea have plenty of experienced, big-game players who will not be fazed by it.

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Source: Daily_Mail