Carlos Queiroz accepts Man Utd will be unable to replace Roy Keane.Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz accepts the club will be unable to replace Roy Keane.
The Red Devils captain has revealed he expects to finish his illustrious career at Old Trafford at the end of the season when his contract expires.
Keane has won an array of honours during over 12 years with United but has decided to quit the club next summer.
His departure will leave not only a gaping hole in the midfield, but also a monumental void in the dressing room.
Alan Smith is currently being groomed as Keane's successor in the holding role but finding a natural-born leader in the Irishman's mould could prove more troublesome.
United's number two admits it would be foolish to think Keane can be replaced but he feels the club must continue to look forward.
"The great players, I used to say this, you don't replace Pele, Maradona, you just produce new players and new teams," Queiroz told Sky Sports News.
"You must be sure that you make the game go forward, that's about progression, and not to replace great players.
"They have a place in the history of football, and the history of the club, but our job is to think about the future and develop the future with new solutions.
"You saw in the last game [against Benfica] our most experienced players, our most mature players, they inspire the rest of the team and inspire the club and we can rely on our future with those players."
Queiroz is hoping Keane's declaration of his departure will not have an unsettling effect on the side and expects manager Sir Alex Ferguson to deal with the matter.
He added: "In this moment we are very much concentrating on our priorities. Everyone understands, first and foremost, the most important priority is the match against Fulham.
"The manager will address the situation in a private and confidential way. We don't talk about those things in a public way but, at the right moment and the right way, the manager will address the situation of Roy Keane."
The Portuguese tactician also paid tribute to the United supporters for not heckling him during the UEFA Champions League victory over Benfica in midweek.
A mis-translation of an interview Queiroz gave in his homeland suggested the United number two had branded the club's supporters 'stupid' but he is thankful the matter is now over.
Queiroz continued: "I was the man of the day for bad reasons and I really felt uncomfortable about that.
"But I want to show my gratitude to the fans because they don't fall into the trap.
"It should not have happened, especially on a match day, but the answer of our fans was fantastic.
"As I said before the game I thought Manchester United fans were the best in the world, now, I'm sure about that. After being to so many different places in this world, they are the best."