Roy Keane rips into Man Utd's "shrinking" stars
Roy Keane admitted he is saddened by Manchester United’s decline after watching them crash out of the Europa League against Liverpool, as he suggested Louis van Gaal’s squad appear to be overwhelmed by the pressure of playing for the club.
Keane has been an outspoken critic of Van Gaal in the last couple of seasons and he was predictably scathing after their latest hope of a trophy - and Champions League qualification - evaporated against their local rivals.
The 3-1 aggregate defeat could have been far heavier for United without some stunning saves from keeper David de Gea in both legs of the tie, with Keane suggesting the club now need to rediscover their identity.
“I'm really saddened by what I've seen from United over the last year or two. It's like a bunch of strangers have been thrown together,” he told ITV Sport.
“I don’t want to keep going back to when I played, but when you play for Man United and you put that jersey on, I always felt 10 foot tall. Some of these players look like they're shrinking with the jersey on.
“Whether it is the pressure or not, I don’t know. If you're playing for Man United, you've got to deal with that pressure and that expectation and this group of players is certainly struggling.
“I know they've had injuries and it goes to show how important and fit Wayne Rooney is to this club, but where are the characters? Where are the leaders in this group?"
Keane went on to suggest United were fortunate to escape without a real humiliation against Liverpool in the two Europa League ties, as he admitted Jurgen Klopp’s side were far superior over the two legs.
“Even this game, when they weren’t quite at it and they were chasing trying to get back into the game, Liverpool could have scored five or six goals easily,” he added.
“You have to use your brain and that is where the characters come into it and we are not seeing it.”