Roy Keane has hit back at recent comments made by Manchester United captain Harry Maguire on how United’s first-team players need to deal with their current poor form.
United have struggled hugely over recent weeks, with a 1-0 defeat to Wolves on January 3 sending some fans into overdrive when it comes to criticism of the team.
The Red Devils have struggled to build momentum all season. They suffered humiliating losses to Liverpool and Manchester City earlier in the campaign, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked after a 4-1 defeat to Watford in November.
His replacement, Ralf Rangnick, got off to a good start with consecutive Premier League wins over Crystal Palace. There were hints of improvements in performances, too. Against Palace, they won possession in the final third eight more times than their seasonal average.
But then they recorded a disappointing 1-1 draw to Newcastle. Although winning 3-1 against Burnley provided some respite, then came the defeat to Wolves at Old Trafford. The most concerning aspect of the latter fixture was the manner of the performance rather than the result itself.
They are currently in seventh place in the Premier League – five points off the Champions League spots.
Some United players have spoken out this week about club issues. On Sunday, Maguire made an honest analysis of the current situation on the club’s official website.
He said: “We are letting the fans down and have to come out fighting. This team finished second last year. We’ve a bigger and better squad this year so we have to show the right attitude.
“We have big players in the team, leaders. I’m sick of repeating myself, but it can’t continue like this … I’ve obviously seen a lot of criticism and a lot of it is absolutely correct.
“From what the fans and ex-players have said, we get it. A lot of it is justified, and we all have to take massive responsibility, myself as a captain as much as anyone, if not more.”
How Roy Keane responded to Harry Maguire
Unsurprisingly, former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has taken a dim view of the comments made by Harry Maguire.
The Irishman hasn’t exactly been quick to praise the 28-year-old in the past. In November, he described the defender’s celebration as “embarrassing” after scoring for England against Albania, and said he had been a “disgrace” at United in the months previous.
In June 2020, during United’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur, he said he was “staggered” over Maguire’s mistake in the match.
Therefore, it is perhaps no surprise that Keane has once again challenged Maguire on his latest comments.
Whilst on punditry duty for ITV Sport, he said: “How many times has he said that? I wouldn’t listen too much to what Harry has had to say.
“I judge a player on what he does on the football pitch, not what rubbish he comes out with about players sticking together, ‘we need to do more’. Judge a player by what he does on the football pitch. United aren’t doing enough.
“Aston Villa at home [in the FA Cup], you’d expect them to turn up and put in a good performance.”
Should United progress past Villa on Monday evening, they will take on Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in round four.
The tie against the Villans is the first time they face Steven Gerrard‘s side in the space of five days. On Saturday, a win in the Premier League fixture at Villa Park could see the Red Devils jump to fifth in the league table. And, as Keane alludes to, a good performance in both matches would at least be a start.
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