Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s admission that he always listens to former team-mate Roy Keane’s withering criticisms raised questions as to how much of it he has agreed with.
‘Ole will pay the ultimate price,’ Keane said on Sky Sports. ‘Ole will lose his job working with this group of players as sure as night follows day.’
Roy Keane has repeatedly been critical of Man United during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign
Keane said last week that the current first team squad will cost Solskjaer his job at Old Trafford
Both Harry Maguire (left) and David de Gea (right) have been targeted by Keane’s criticisms
Solskjaer brushed off Keane’s concerns for his future on the eve of facing Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League but repeated criticisms of his players will frustrate the Norwegian.
Last month Solskjaer took aim at pundits who have been critical of his use of £40million summer signing Donny van de Beek but did not call out Keane directly.
This is Keane talking United; criticism post-Arsenal was not a one-off. There have been a whole host of damning assessments.
Since Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho in late 2018, Keane has savaged the dressing room, saying he wouldn’t ‘trust a word’ Paul Pogba said, Anthony Martial ‘is not good enough’ to play for United and Solskjaer’s squad doesn’t have ANY leaders -a verdict disputed by captain Harry Maguire this week.
Sportsmail takes a trip down memory lane to recount Keane’s most savage takedowns of United in the Solskjaer era.
‘Players get away with MURDER’
Mourinho’s exit left a sour taste in many mouths but Keane was apoplectic with the players for their role in the Portuguese’s acrimonious departure.
He left them 19 points behind Liverpool and there were question marks around playing style and his philosophy on young players.
For Keane, it was an embarrassing episode for the dressing room.
Jose Mourinho (right) was sacked in December 2018 but Keane blamed players for the demise
In an extraordinary tirade, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘I think the players obviously get away with murder. Just the way they hide behind their manager.
‘Whatever you say about the players they’ve thrown him under the bus.
‘And people said Mourinho has been falling out with players, well you would fall out with players when they turn up overweight, when players aren’t training properly and not producing, and then for some of them to down tools.
‘Shame on some of those players. I’m not Mourinho’s biggest fan, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t tolerate footballers who just hide behind their agent, their pals in the media. Bit of a joke really.’
Keane was not done there, though.
Quizzed on whether his ‘old school’ mentality is no longer a facet of the game, the Irishman bit back. This group weren’t just ‘weak’ players, they were ‘weak’ human beings in his eyes.
Many players remain and Keane is convinced they will also cause Solskjaer to be sacked
‘I suppose you could say I’m a bit old school. I don’t call it old school, I call it good school,’ he added.
‘No matter what’s going on at your club, when you get out on that pitch, particularly at a big club like United, you go out and give it your all. No excuses. So this idea that these players who are maybe a little bit upset, and not just at United, trust me the modern player they’re not just weak players, they’re very weak human beings. You can’t say a word to them.
‘I know the game has changed a little bit, but the players do get away with murder and it’s really frustrating.
‘It wouldn’t have happened in our dressing room because of the fact we have good characters and good leaders. We wouldn’t have tolerated lads not putting a shift in.’
‘I wouldn’t believe a word Pogba says!’
‘Leopards don’t change their spots,’ Keane said, a jibe at the inconsistent dressing room after Solskjaer had enjoyed a renaissance as interim boss.
But while Keane had a number of issues with the United squad, his irritation with Paul Pogba was reaching boiling point.
The Frenchman’s flirtation with Real Madrid was no longer subtle and his fun-loving personality off the field – even after playing poorly – left Keane enraged.
Paul Pogba was targeted by Keane in April 2019 as he offered up a damning assessment of him
After one particular interview, where Pogba spoke of being a team player, Keane had had enough and he launched into a scathing attack on the £89m midfielder.
‘I wouldn’t believe a word he says,’ Keane began. ‘There is no meaning behind it. I don’t even think he believed what he was saying there.
‘He’s on about being a team-mate, if you’re going to be a good team-mate you’ve got to run back when you’re defending. It all got a bit heated after the game against Everton, I heard they were throwing their hair-gel at each other. It got that heated.
‘The guy is a talented boy, but we’re saying the same thing over and over again. The number of times we’ve seen him in games where he is not sprinting or running back.’
‘You’d have been LYNCHED’
It is no secret that since Sir Alex Ferguson departed Manchester United have had to temper their expectations when it comes to success.
Title contention has been out of the picture for a while and even top four qualification has not been granted.
But try getting Keane to accept that top four is ‘success’ for United. At the start of last season he was having NONE of it.
‘You’re playing for Man United to win,’ he fumed. ‘God help me if in our dressing room someone mentioned can we finish fourth as a great achievement, you’d have been lynched.’
If it wasn’t already clear, Keane is sick and tired of this current squad.
‘Hugging and kissing’
This was just an open goal for Keane.
As United and Liverpool, arch rivals historically, lined up in the tunnel ahead of a game at Old Trafford, Sky Sports cameras saw a number of Brazil internationals, in Keane’s words, ‘hugging and kissing’.
Roberto Firmino had his arm round Fred and Andreas Pereira and all seemed jovial – distinct shift from the battle mentality Keane possessed before big games.
United’s Brazilians Fred and Andreas Pereira embraced Roberto Firmino and Fabinho
‘I’m disgusted with players (scenes in the tunnel),’ he said.
‘You’re going to war, they’re hugging and kissing. Don’t even look at the opposition. You’re going into battle against them.
‘The game hasn’t changed that much, the players have changed.
‘You’re going to war against these players and they’re hugging each other. Chat to them after the game, or don’t even chat to them after the game.’
‘As a manager… you’d kill him!’
Keane needs little ammunition to tear into United and having been so vocal since Solskjaer took charge, Everton away was the final straw when it came to David de Gea.
The Spaniard was under increasing scrutiny as it was and then here he was, a packed Goodison Park, and as he dawdled to clear the ball, Dominic Calvert-Lewin charged him down and blocked his kick into the net to score.
Keane, unsurprisingly, was furious and again talked about ‘lynching’ he was that annoyed.
David de Gea was exposed away to Everton and Keane said that he would ‘have killed him’
‘As a manager, or a player, you’d kill him. I swear, it’s crazy. You talk about people being too clever,’ he said.
‘It just takes too long, what is he waiting for? If you’re going to make a decision, at least make it quickly. These are huge moments for United in terms of trying to get top four.
‘You’ve got your experienced goalkeeper, what is he waiting for? There’s almost a bit of arrogance to it, ‘look at me, give me time’.
‘They almost think they’re outfield players. I would have lynched him at half time, I’d have no time for that carry on. I know keepers can make mistakes, but there’s no excuse for that.’
Things would only get more and more strained between De Gea and Keane moving forward.
‘I would be swinging PUNCHES’
Football returned, it was a moment of happiness for a lot of folk. But not Keane. No.
United were once again exposed defensively, this time away at Tottenham, and again Keane took aim at De Gea, who he didn’t even want on the coach home.
Harry Maguire was caught out for pace and Steven Bergwijn scored with questions over the goalkeeper. At half-time, Keane was spitting venom at the performance.
‘I’m shocked at that goal, I’ve watched a lot of football over the years but I’m fuming there,’ said Keane.
United’s defending away at Tottenham drew Keane’s ire as he again called out De Gea
‘I can’t believe Shaw heading the ball up in the air. I’m staggered at Maguire. I’m sick to death of this goalkeeper.
‘I would be fighting him at half time, I would be swinging punches. This is an established international goalkeeper.
‘You’ve got to impose your personality on the game. Maguire and De Gea, I wouldn’t let them on the bus after the match. Shocking.
‘I’m disgusted with it. Maguire, De Gea you should hang your heads in shame.’
‘He makes FAR too many mistakes’
And on it goes.
The form of Dean Henderson on loan at Sheffield United didn’t help but even De Gea could admit his form had been shaky for some time.
Project Restart was not kind to the Spaniard, with every mistake psycho-analysed in TV studios and across social media.
Keane had had enough and urged United to ditch him for a new stopper.
‘I’ve never been a big fan of his,’ Keane revealed. ‘He makes far too many mistakes, big mistakes that cost United big points.
Keane urged Manchester United to ditch De Gea and fix recruitment in goalkeeping position
‘We talk about recruitment, it’s a difficult part of the game. That’s just my opinion. If Manchester United want to challenge for league titles, they need a better goalkeeper.
‘They need a change, they’ve done it before. I don’t know what the big song and dance is about a goalkeeper, Manchester United have been doing it for years.’
With De Gea still No 1, it is unlikely Keane has changed his tune…
‘Too many BLUFFERS’
Another performance against Tottenham, this time a 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford, and Keane was disgusted.
His face scrunched up, such was the anger at what he had seen from a United side that simply collapsed in on itself, he couldn’t have been harsher in his assessment.
‘The performance against Spurs was disgraceful,’ Keane fumed. ‘A disgrace to the badge with that performance.
‘(There were) too many bluffers and ultimately, these players will cost Ole his job.
‘They threw the previous manager (Mourinho) under the bus. They will do the same to Ole.’ Solskjaer says he listens to what Keane said and no doubt Keane knows it.
This felt like a warning that a storm is coming.
Manchester United were humiliated earlier this season suffering a 6-1 loss against Tottenham
Keane fumed that ‘there are too many bluffers’ and these players will get Solskjaer the sack
‘I don’t see ANY leaders out there… Ole will play the price’
Now to his latest critique, the one Solskjaer addressed head on this week.
Having impressed against RB Leipzig in a 5-0 win, United came crashing back down to earth with a 1-0 loss to Arsenal, continuing their winless run in the league at Old Trafford.
Less a Theatre of Dreams and more a House of Nightmares.
Anyway, Keane continued to point the finger at the players and again reiterated that Solskjaer WILL get sacked because of them. There was not an ounce of doubt.
‘Ole will pay the ultimate price,’ Keane said. ‘Ole will lose his job working with this group of players as sure as night follows day. We all like Ole, he’s a decent guy, but he will be under no illusion that the pressure now will be building the longer this goes on.
‘I never thought United would get anywhere near Liverpool or Manchester City, forget that, but at this rate they are in no race. They are just drifting.
‘We were kind of building this season up to be make or break for Ole. At this moment in time it’s not looking good for him.
‘I don’t see any leaders out there (at United), right through the whole team from the experienced players,’ he said.
‘You are expected to roll sleeves up, that’s what characters at Man United are about. Like Nobby Stiles, heart of a lion.
‘Ole is in management, you have to trust the players because your job relies on the pitch. You’re going to trust those players out there? God help us.’