Hannibal Mejbri has already provided the solution to Roy Keane’s biggest Manchester United fear – James Findlater

Manchester United fans had very little to shout about at Anfield on Tuesday night, but for most it was nothing less than they expected.

United’s supporters are becoming all too used to the sort of lackluster display that was offered up in the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool. Clashes between the old rivals are supposed to stir things up and produce grievous encounters, even when one of the two sides aren’t at their best.

On Tuesday, though, the visitors produced the sort of insipid display that has summed up a dismal season at Old Trafford. Their plight was analyzed by a forlorn Roy Keane in the Sky Sports studio, who had seemingly lost the will to produce one of his trademark animated rants from him.

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“I think it was anger at the start of the season, now I just think it is sadness,” he said. “You look at the team today, there was no heart, no soul, no leaders.

“They lacked quality, they were so far off. You look at the Manchester United fans, they don’t look surprised by the scoreline.

“It’s so sad to see because it is not the club I played for. It is not what Manchester United stood for when I played for them, it is just chalk and cheese. I don’t see a Manchester United team out there fighting or playing with pride.”

Keane’s comments about a lack of leaders in the United dressing room will no doubt resonate with supporters. Over the last few weeks they’ve witnessed a side seemingly just waiting for time to be called on the campaign.

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However, there was one bright spark to warm the hearts of the traveling supporters at Anfield. Hannibal Mejbri’s late cameo brought back memories of some of the blood and thunder we’ve seen from encounters between United and Liverpool over the years.

In roughly 10 minutes on the pitch, the 19-year-old showed more determination than his teammates had in the rest of the game as he ploughed through Liverpool’s players, picking up a booking for his troubles and perhaps being lucky to escape further punishment. It was a performance that left Gary Neville feeling ‘proud’, and could well be the answer to Keane’s fears of him.

Hannibal’s performance won’t have come as a surprise to Nicky Butt. The ex-United midfielder coached the former Monaco youngster during his time with United’s academy and has already suggested the teenager can follow in Keane’s footsteps from him as a natural leader.

“Leaders are always looked at like a Roy Keane, a Steve Bruce, a Bryan Robson, those kinds of verbal, real aggression, real leaders,” Butt told the Manchester Evening News back in 2020. “And then you’ve got leaders like Paul Scholes or David Beckham or Ryan Giggs, who’s quiet but really leads by example of how they play and how they work hard.

“We’ve got the old-fashioned leaders if you like, who are going to talk to the players and drive the team. Hannibal’s a leader. The way he plays his football is 100mph, he’s non-stop running up and down.”

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United fans have called for Hannibal to get more game-time before the end of the season. If Butt’s comments are anything to go by, he could be just what they and Keane have been crying out for.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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