Roy Keane is right about Manchester United dressing room problem after embarrassing derby defeat – Steven Railston

Manchester City were two goals ahead of Manchester United with 20 minutes to play when ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ was heard around the Etihad. United were embarrassingly passive and City fans were reveling in their side’s unchallenged spell of possession.

United’s performance in the first half of the Manchester derby was encouraging but it soon spectacularly fell apart. This squad has been unable to sustain a positive display across 90 minutes in this disaster of a season and that wasn’t a surprise, but the manner in which they capitulated was unforgivable. Those ‘unforgivable’ performances have happened all too often this term.

It couldn’t get much worse than the Liverpool debacle in October but the 4-1 defeat at the weekend came close. Although United’s inferiority hardly needed to be confirmed, it was a painful reminder of the gulf in quality between the two Manchester clubs. It is the 10th anniversary of that Sergio Aguero goal in May and the power has arguably never felt as much in the blue side’s favour.

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United have tried to arrest the inevitable but they haven’t succeeded. They have hopelessly meandered over the last decade. Their every move has been undermined by incompetence and mediocrity deep-rooted in the club’s veins and the problems seem systematic. This season has shown radical reform is required after a few campaigns of deceptive progress.

How do you make Manchester United great again? The reset has to start with the kingmakers at the club. Richard Arnold has recently been installed as United’s new chief executive and he must prove he’s not cut from the same cloth as Ed Woodward. Arnold and Woodward are friends and fellow Bristol University graduates. He’s already facing uphill battle weeks into his role.

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It is simple: transformational change is needed, starting at the top, however, in regards to the short-term, amid the forensic analysis of who is responsible for the latest humbling against United’s rivals on Sunday, the players need to take responsibility.

Fred reacts as Mahrez scores.

Sunday’s defeat was so unforgivable because United gave up. The performance is a stain on the club’s history and what it actually means to play for United. It was embarrassing to hear ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ around the Etihad as Pep Guardiola’s side kept possession and United’s players sulked. They looked like they wanted the pitch to swallow them up. That might have done everyone in favour.

United failed to have a shot in the second half, never mind a shot on target, and they had just eight per cent possession in the closing stages as the hosts were unchallenged. It is little wonder Gary Neville and Roy Keane were so incensed on TV after the full-time whistle. The latter in particular was excellent as he embarked on a passionate rant, saying what every fan was thinking.

“We hear about problems with the new manager coming in but your own pride has to kick in at some stage,” Keane said. “I was getting really frustrated, I can forgive mistakes but you have to put your body on the line.

“Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Maguire, Rashford came on, I could go on, gave up four goals and City didn’t have to be at their best at all. Shame on them. Once the third goal went in, the game was over. They threw the towel in, the white flag came up.”

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Keane was right to question the mentality within United’s dressing room. The white flag was raised in enemy territory and United fans went into work on Monday morning utterly ashamed of their team. That is an awful position for a supporter to be reduced to.

This season couldn’t end quickly enough. United have disappointed at every opportunity and some players within the dressing room have exposed themselves. There was no desire to salvage a degree of pride in that second half on Sunday.

United have now conceded at least four goals in four of their last 21 Premier League matches. That’s as many as it has taken Liverpool across their last 175 and Man City across their last 220. That’s an embarrassing statistic from the club’s latest humiliation.

There can be opportunity found in crisis and United must somehow find it – they’ll continue to go backwards if they don’t.

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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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