Roy Keane has launched an attack on Manchester United for failing to address various issues at the back, insisting they will always struggle with Ashley Young playing at left-back.
Jose Mourinho’s men were widely lambasted for their lack of composure at the back during last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, with Chris Smalling earning plenty of flak for a woefully ill-disciplined performance.
Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles rightly noted after the game that Man United’s centre-backs “didn’t know what to do with the ball at their feet.”
And Keane, speaking earlier this week, was typically straight to the point when addressing United’s defensive issues.
“I think they’ve not really sorted out the few defensive problems they’ve had over the last few years and that’ll continue, the two centre halves need to do better,” he said.
“I always think if you’ve got Ashley Young in your back four you’re going to struggle.”
When previously discussing Young, Keane noted: “I think the guy’s a disgrace and if he’s a Man United player I’m a Chinaman.”
That is probably taking it a bit too far. The Englishman may not be a perfect left-back option but certainly doesn’t deserve to be labelled as a disgrace – a term I would personally reserve for someone like, say, Kim Jong-Un or Harvey Weinstein – and Keane ought to know that ‘Chinaman’ is not the appropriate nomenclature these days.
But he is right to be exasperated at Mourinho’s recent decisions in an area where he usually leads the way. The Portuguese has fielded the same back four in defeats to Huddersfield Town, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle, and you can only pray he has learned his lesson by now.
What puzzles further is Mourinho’s reluctance to use Luke Shaw, who has earned praise from his boss following an impressive resurgence, on a more regular basis. The same can be said of Victor Lindelof – a player who, following a difficult start, had started to grow in stature at Old Trafford but for some reason hasn’t started a Premier League game since New Year’s Day.
But perhaps the most shocking notion above all is that, since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, United have made 22 signings and only five of them have been defenders. Needless to say, the club needs to set about starting to rectify that balance in the summer.