Last updated : 30 August 2004 By editor

'It has been so long since we have seen evidence of the real Manchester United that one has begun to wonder if such a thing still exists. Roy Keane, the personification of that spirit, appears only occasionally now that age is taking its toll while the famous "band of brothers" who graduated together from the club’s academy are dwindling in number, making way for exotically named individuals such as Eric Djemba-Djemba and Klé berson, who have so far shown little inkling of what it means to play for this special club.

Suspicions about the new players’ grasp of the United spirit were heightened in stoppage time on Saturday afternoon, when, after Alan Smith benefited from a handball by Louis Saha to strike a long-overdue equaliser, Gary Neville was forced to run 60 yards to break up their celebrations and point out, quite forcefully, that there was a still a match to be won. As one of only two survivors from the 1999 European Cup final on the pitch, Neville, his face contorted with rage while his team-mates beamed with misplaced delight, stuck out like a sore thumb.

These days, a point away to Blackburn Rovers should not be seen as a cause for celebration for any team with championship aspirations, particularly not a team that is already struggling to keep pace with Arsenal and Chelsea.

As they made their way to the team bus an hour later, presumably having been reminded by Ferguson that a draw was no cause for celebration, several of United’s players, having stopped to sign autographs, were subjected to some tame verbal abuse by a couple of oiks wearing Blackburn shirts. "Who are yer?" they screamed in the faces of Kléberson, Djemba-Djemba and others. The answer is that they are Manchester United and would do well to remind themselves what that means.'