Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has been proven right about two fundamental issues that have heavily impacted his former club’s progress this season.
Starting the campaign with the ambition of challenging the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title, United have fallen a long way short of the pre-season expectations. They are currently fourth in the table and their only hope of winning a trophy this term is if they defy the odds and lift the Champions League.
United are currently at the halfway stage of their last-16 showdown with Atletico Madrid with the scoreline level at 1-1. But even if United do progress, they are not expected to venture too deeply into the latter stages of the competition.
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The Reds, despite signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane last summer, have failed to consistently deliver what was expected of them, with results and performances not a fair reflection of the talent at their mercy. However, the lack of a dominant, defensive-minded midfielder has cost United dearly.
The club knew it was an area that needed strengthening last summer and they failed to lure one to Old Trafford. West Ham United ace Declan Rice, however, remains a firm target ahead of this summer.
However, former United star Keane spotted that it could be a problem that would hinder the Reds this term. He raised doubts about the lack of quality in midfield after just the second game of the Premier League season, following a 1-1 draw with Southampton.
“There is certainly one or two question marks with the lads in the middle of the park,” Keane told Sky Sports. “There is not enough creativity, not enough quality and United will be disappointed with a draw, but let’s give credit to Southampton.”
United’s lack of world-class talent in the center-of-midfield has impacted them massively this season, so much so that it has become a glaring weakness to almost everyone, including those who do not watch the Reds on a regular basis. It has been identified as an area that must be bolstered this summer as a matter of urgency.
However, it is not just United’s lack of bite in the engine room that has attracted Keane’s attention. Following the shock FA Cup defeat to Middlesbrough last month, the former Republic of Ireland international blasted the Reds’ wasteful finishing, with them squandering a whole host of chances.
Leading 1-0 at half-time through Jadon Sancho’s deflected effort, United, who missed a penalty through Ronaldo, ahead of Sancho scoring, ought to have been out of sight, wasting a gulf of good opportunities. Middlesbrough, of course, went on to win via penalties, with Keane insisting that United had lost the game as a result of not taking their chances.
“One of his [Rangnick’s] concerns will be over the last few home games they’ve only scored one goal and obviously just one tonight,” Keane told ITV Sport.
“I was talking about Man United finding a way to win the game, but what they did was they found a way to lose the game and that’s not a good sign.”
Keane’s admission remains true. Throughout February, United remained wasteful in front of goal, squandering a lorry load of chances against the likes of Burnley, Southampton and most recently Watford, meaning they amassed just three points when they ought to have secured nine for the chances that came their way.
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