ROY Keane didn’t hold back as he ripped into Manchester United’s players ahead of their game at Tottenham last night and as usual, he hit the nail on the head with a lot of his points.
While I expected Liverpool to beat United at Old Trafford last weekend, the manner of their win and the abject display put in by Ole Gunnar Soskjaer’s players shocked me.
When a United team lose against Liverpool in that manner, it is unacceptable and the last week has been all about whether Ole should survive as manager, but it should be more than that.
Footballers should have professional pride in their performance and when you are playing for Manchester United, you have to raise your game when you are playing Liverpool.
What we saw last Sunday was a team not putting in the required and expected effort and that was unacceptable. The manager will always get blamed for a big defeat, but I looked at the United team last weekend and saw too many of them hiding.
As Keano said on Sky Sports in his uncompromising manner, United’s established internationals simply didn’t turn up, didn’t put tackles in, didn’t show pride in wearing the United shirt I was privileged to pull on myself so many times.
There are games when everything goes wrong and against a side as good as Liverpool, you will never get away with that and everything conspired against United to plunge Solskjaer into a crisis.
If Ole hadn’t done so much for the club as a player, he probably wouldn’t have survived to lead the team into last night’s game at Tottenham. Yet Solskjaer has reserved a special place in United’s history and that is the primary reason why a lot of the club’s real fans will never turn against him.
They might think he’s not the right man to lead the club, but they will never jeer or boo him because they remember what he has done for United.
His 1999 Champions League-winning goal was legendary stuff and his legacy has bought him a little bit of time to continue for now.
He would have been expecting a big reaction from his team at Spurs last night and to be honest, United were not too good in the first half of a game that could have been Ole’s last if it all went wrong again.
What Solskjaer has on his side this season is some wonderful players, especially in attacking positions, who can turn a game with a moment of magic.
At the top of the list of names who are capable of doing just that is Cristiano Ronaldo and his opening goal against Tottenham was out of this world.
He has the awareness to make sure he was just onside and then had the really difficult task of shaping his body to get the shot on target and give United a massive lift.
It was a sensational goal from a wonderful footballer and even though it has felt like Ole may have run out of lives at United, he will always have a chance with the players he has in his squad this season.
He decided to go with Edinson Cavani alongside Ronaldo last night and those two will score goals if the chances come their way. The trouble for United has been keeping them out at the other end and with Harry Kane in that Spurs side, Maguire and the returning Raphael Varane needed to be at their best.
Kane is a player I would have hated to play against as he strikes shots early and has great movement, but his heart is not in it at Spurs anymore and that helped United last night.
Brilliant finishes from Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford gave United the cushion they needed on a night when winning was all that mattered, meaning the Solskjaer question will remain unanswered for a few more weeks.
They have a big game against Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday night and then the derby against Manchester City next weekend and both games are laced with peril for United.
For now, Solskjaer has the breathing space he needs, but it could evaporate quickly if we see any repeat of the horror story against Liverpool.