Roy Keane slammed Man United’s ‘bluffers’ and warned they will cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job… so who are the chief culprits ‘throwing the manager under the bus’ with their dreadful performances?
- Roy Keane was as forthright as ever with his opinions on his former club
- Former United captain believes too many players are letting Solskjaer down
- He described recent performances as ‘disgraceful’ and blasted the ‘bluffers’
- Keane fears Solskjaer will suffer the same fate as his predecessor Jose Mourinho
- £89m midfielder Paul Pogba is once again openly flirting with Real Madrid
- Defenders Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw have struggled
- Keeper David de Gea is error-prone and Anthony Martial was stupidly sent off
Roy Keane can always be relied upon to tell it how it is – which explains why he was speaking about Manchester United’s current problems ahead of an England vs Wales international that featured no United players in the starting line-ups.
And the Irishman certainly didn’t disappoint with his forthright views on United’s poor start to the season and what happens next.
‘The performance against Spurs was disgraceful,’ said the former United captain. ‘A disgrace to the badge with that performance.
Roy Keane was as forthright as even in his opinions when asked about United’s current issues
United were shambolic as they crashed to a 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham on Sunday
It was the joint-heaviest defeat United have suffered at Old Trafford in the Premier League era
‘[There were] too many bluffers and ultimately, these players will cost Ole his job.
‘They threw the previous manager [Jose Mourinho] under the bus. They will do the same to Ole.’
Given that United’s Premier League campaign has started with a surprise 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace, a scarcely-deserved late win at Brighton and then one of their most embarrassing defeats ever – drubbed 6-1 at Old Trafford by Tottenham – Keane’s words could prove prophetic.
He’s right in that a number of regulars in the side aren’t currently pulling their weight and if things don’t improve, Solskjaer will be the one to pay the price.
So who are the United ‘bluffers’ – to borrow Keane’s term – that could cost Solskjaer his job on the evidence of the early season?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (above) is under pressure after a poor start to the new season
Keane certainly wouldn’t have stood for such poor performances as United’s captain
When football returned after lockdown, it look very briefly as though Pogba was not only fully fit again but genuinely focused on delivering his best for United.
He played a big part in United’s storming form post-lockdown that saw an ongoing unbeaten run extended to 19 matches in all competitions.
But this season, standards have already slipped. Pogba was sloppy in possession in the defeat to Palace and ultimately taken off for Donny van de Beek after an hour.
He was even worse against Tottenham, losing every 50-50 contest he went in for and allowing frustrations to boil over in clumsily conceding the penalty for Tottenham’s sixth.
Pogba had an absolute shocker during United’s humiliating defeat to Tottenham on Sunday
His body language was awful and though he wasn’t alone in downing tools it appeared Pogba just wanted to be anywhere else but Old Trafford.
You’d think a bit of humility was required but Pogba then went away on international duty with France and has once again come out and said it’s his dream to play for Real Madrid.
There are an increasing number of United fans now who’d happily drive the £89million man from Manchester to Madrid right away.
Out of contract next summer anyway, Pogba has been continuously indulged by Solskjaer without repaying the favour and the club should cut their losses and sell this January.
The big question is – based on his recent performances, would Real even want him?
The French midfielder clumsily slide tackled Ben Davies to concede a penalty for the sixth
Everything has gone wrong for Maguire ever since a positive finish to last season in which he looked every inch a United captain.
There was the drama of his arrest and trial during his summer holiday in Greece, which led to Maguire being found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery and handed a 21-month suspended prison term.
That ordeal – not to mention United’s short turnaround between seasons following their Europa League run – seems to have affected Maguire and it’s been a poor start by his standards.
Maguire seemed rattled by the pace of Palace’s players during the season opener and they almost seemed to target him in the knowledge he isn’t the quickest defender.
Harry Maguire has endured a poor start to the season as he struggled to rediscover his form
His performance against Spurs was even worse. It started when his poor back header led to Erik Lamela scoring the equaliser, a misjudgement compounded when he wrestled Luke Shaw out the way trying to clear the ball.
He was also culpable either directly or indirectly for Tottenham’s second and fourth goals though it’s fair to say nobody covered themselves in glory.
In between, Maguire did play well in the win at Brighton, getting in the right position to force United’s equaliser then winning the 100th minute penalty.
Hopefully it’s just a blip in form because Solskjaer will be looking to his captain to get United back on track after the international break.
United’s skipper was directly or indirectly responsible for three of Spurs’ goals on Sunday
Even when United were winning games regularly in the Spring and Summer, doubts remained over Lindelof’s abilities.
He’s long been seen as a weak link at the heart of defence and unfortunately there’s been nothing so far this season to change that view.
The Swedish defender had an absolute nightmare in the Crystal Palace game even if he was unlucky to concede a penalty.
Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and co ruthlessly exposed a susceptibility to fast runs and quick movement, while his ability to win aerial duels has been questioned in the past.
Victor Lindelof reacts in dismay after conceding a penalty in United’s defeat to Crystal Palace
Solskjaer took Lindelof out of his team for Eric Bailly for the Tottenham game, a switch many saw as long overdue.
But Bailly’s absolute shocker against Spurs leaves Solskjaer no closer to finding his best central defensive pair.
And the brutal reality is, with Chelsea, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig all coming up on United’s fixture list, their already porous back line is going to be tested to the limit.
If United fail to win any of these games – and continue shipping goals at the current alarming rate – then Solskjaer will genuinely be under pressure.
The Swedish defender was exposed for pace by Palace’s wingers, including Wilfried Zaha
Shaw raised a few eyebrows when he came out after the Palace game and said that United urgently needed new signings.
Many said he should be careful what he wishes for and United duly brought in another left-back in the form of Alex Telles from Porto.
And on the evidence of Shaw’s performances so far, it’ll be Telles coming straight into the team at Newcastle United next weekend.
Against Palace, Shaw was at fault for Townsend’s goal early on after failing to track his run and against Spurs he was outdone time after time by Lamela and Serge Aurier.
The embarrassing audio that emerged of David de Gea yelling at Shaw but eliciting no reaction as Tottenham scored their fourth only added to the impression of a player out of his depth.
Shaw was always a convenient scapegoat for Jose Mourinho but issues are still surfacing even now and surely Telles will take his place in the side right away in yet more upheaval to the back line.
Luke Shaw was another United defender who struggled during the defeat to Tottenham
DAVID DE GEA
Talking of De Gea, the scrutiny on the Spanish keeper continues to ramp up after a series of costly mistakes last season.
David de Gea has become increasingly error-prone and is under pressure for his place
He made three errors leading to goals in the Premier League last season plus another against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.
It led to Solskjaer keeping Dean Henderson at Old Trafford instead of sending the ambitious 23-year-old back out on loan.
The added competition should, in theory, focus De Gea’s mind and hopefully eliminate those mistakes. Only time will tell on that.
He’s already let 11 goals past him in just three matches but the defenders in front of him have been just as culpable if not more so.
But you can picture it now. The big Champions League game or an important league clash at Old Trafford in a couple of months’ time. The De Gea fumble leading to the winning goal. The camera cutting to Solskjaer’s mortified face in the dug-out. The early morning summons to Ed Woodward’s office…
While most of United’s weakness at the moment clearly lies further back on the field, it would be wrong to overlook Martial’s stupidity against Tottenham.
He let his team mates down badly by deciding to lash out at Lamela. The red card changed the game and United never recovered. Surely players know any time you raise your hand to an opponent’s face, you’ll be in trouble.
Gary Neville on Sky did describe it as ‘soft’ and perhaps Lamela should have gone as well, but why even react in the first place?
It’s a shame because United will now be without Martial for games at a crucial time. It also came after Martial had made a surprisingly quiet start to the season having been excellent in the latter part of last.
Anthony Martial trudges off after being shown a red card for ‘slapping’ Erik Lamela in the face
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