All through Wednesday, Sky Sports teased the fact that Roy Keane would be a studio guest for their coverage of the Manchester Derby.
Like schoolkids nervously awaiting the arrival of an eccentric supply teacher they didn’t know what was coming but they knew it’d be more interesting than what they were used to.
Keane’s appearances, like those of the Creme Egg McFlurry, are to be savoured in the knowledge there will be a long wait until the next one.
Since returning to club management with Nottingham Forest alongside Martin O’Neill, Keane looks match-fit. The beard that gave him the appearance of when Ian Beale went rogue in EastEnders has gone and he looks like he could still do a job in United’s midfield.
But why are appearances like this so rare? Have pundits now reached the stage where they can’t be outrageous for fear of having any future gigs cancelled.
Gary Neville is no stranger to a rant but unlike Keane, GNev doesn’t carry the same brooding threat of a bailiff. Former Celtic and Chelsea striker Chris Sutton has shown he is not afraid to court controversy during his stints on both TV and radio but again, we’re so used to him, such outbursts don’t have a shock factor.
Paul Scholes made plenty of headlines when he frequently stuck the boot into Jose Mourinho in the dismal final months of his reign but it became so predictable, the rants didn’t land with any force.
In contrast, viewers as well as the other studio guests hung on Keane’s every word, wondering who would be the next target of his brutally honest tongue.
Graeme Souness, an outspoken critic of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, gazed at Keane lovingly across the table, evidently made-up that he had back-up.
"The guy is a talented boy, but we're saying the same thing over and over again,” said Keane. “The number of times we've seen him in games where he is not sprinting or running back. He's a big problem for United.
"Graeme (Souness) spoke earlier about needing good senior players at your football club. He's a senior player, played in big competitions and won big trophies. I don't think he leads by example, from what I see. I don't know what he's like on the training ground or when they're travelling but I don't see it in his performances. My eyes don't lie to me."
You feel Keane would be happy to say all of this to Pogba’s face. He is not one for cozy alliances and you genuinely feel that if it came to blows, Keane would stand a fair chance.
Over the course of the evening, Keane gave a scathing assessment of the state of his former club which he left in such acrimonious circumstances and the players who currently wear the red shirts. Neville looked petrified every time Keane opened his mouth, nervously laughing or trying to lighten the mood.
The viewers lapped this up, mainly because it was far more interesting than anything that was going on outside. After a tentative start, Manchester City’s superior class and pace told and their 2-0 victory could be filed under “routine”. It was nothing that fans of both clubs didn’t already know but maybe they just needed Keane to say it out loud for it to make an impact.
Gary Neville says "world-class" Paul Pogba could become a "massive problem" for Man Utd if the player has had his head turned