Manchester United lost on the opening day of the 2022/23 Premier League season against Brighton and Hove Albion. Roy Keane’s words from past seasons re-emerged with the players under scrutiny already.
New season, same old story; Manchester United succumbed to opening day defeat at Old Trafford against Brighton and Hove Albion, the Seagulls very much up to the task, while their opponents looked lethargic and beaten already. In the aftermath of the game, the Manchester United players faced heavy criticism from both fans and pundits, with some claiming that despite a change in the manager, not much had changed within the squad!
Roy Keane, former captain of the club, had spoken about the declining quality of the squad previously in the past. The defeat against Brighton brought back memories of his prior rants against the current crop of players, some going as far back as three years – but still holding relevance.
“Phil Foden mentioned it is a tough place to come, it’s not. Ask Everton, ask Aston Villa, and Liverpool. Teams have come to Old Trafford and are getting a bit of joy now,” Keane bemoaned after Manchester United had been completely outplayed by their rivals Manchester City.
“We go back to that I look for characters. Scott McTominay, who I know is learning his trade. Fred in midfield. These players are not good enough for Manchester United. Defensively, I wasn’t shocked when Eric Bailly sliced that into his own net. He’s got that in his locker. He’s erratic.”
All three players the Irishman mentioned by name that day remain in the squad, with two – McTominay and Fred – even starting together in midfield in the Brighton defeat.
Two years further back, Keane had complained that the players would throw the then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under the bus if given the chance. Soslkjaer was removed from his duties by late 2021 with Ralf Rangnick installed in his place, who, as it turned out, was also let go by the end of the season.
“Their performance against Spurs was disgraceful. You all have bad days in football, but some of the players were a disgrace to the Man United badge,” Keane had said.
“There are too many bluffers, and ultimately these players will cost Ole his job. The players he has got there, they threw the previous manager under the bus, and they will do the same to Ole.”
These are still early days in Ten Hag’s tenure but the Dutchman’s off to the worst possible start with a defeat on the opening day and a dissatisfied star figure on the bench. The Red Devils play Brentford next in the league before Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool come knocking.