The perceived revival of Manchester United under Erik ten Hag has been hugely played down by Roy Keane, who insists it is still too early to brand the Dutchman a success.
The Red Devils moved into the FA Cup fourth round with a 3-1 win over Everton on Friday night. And while they deserved the win, the Toffees provided quite a stern test for United. Even so, they ultimately prevailed, with the win their sixth in a row in all competitions.
During that time, United have moved back into the Premier League’s top four. And hopes are growing that United could bring Champions League football back to Old Trafford next season. To that end, and as it stands, the Ten Hag appointment has been a success so far.
Indeed, the Dutchman is a manager who clearly won’t stand for any nonsense – his savage two-word verdict on the Cristiano Ronaldo interview with Piers Morgan is case in point.
All the same, that icey demeanor appears to have impressed plenty as belief grows stronger that United are heading back to where the club feels they belong.
However, one man who is yet to be convinced is Keane.
He has moved to play down both their recent run of results and the Ten Hag regime so far. In fact, he is adamant that the six matches they have won are the least expected.
Furthermore, he has explained why he is ‘not convinced’ just yet that Ten Hag is all he is cracked up to be.
And, looking ahead to forthcoming games with Man City and Arsenal, Keane insists it is too early to pass judgement.
Keane plays down Ten Hag impact at Man Utd
“No not really, I’ll be honest with you,” Keane told ITV Sport when asked if he felt United were progressing. “They’re on a good run and they’ve beaten teams recently, but they’ve not really played anybody.
“Of course they’ve got City coming up in a few weeks and Arsenal but I’m still not convinced. I still think the problems are there with the center backs, I’m still not convinced with the goalkeeper [David de Gea]. They’re better than obviously last year, which wouldn’t have been hard.
“Obviously the [Cristiano] Ronaldo situation has been cleared up, I’m sure that will help the situation. I think they’ve had some cushy games since the World Cup, certainly winnable, he’s [Ten Hag] been experimenting, playing [Luke] Shaw at centre-half, but he won’t be playing Shaw at centre-half against Man City or Arsenal, I can tell you that.”
Fellow ITV pundit Ian Wright added another perspective and insists he has made them harder to beat.
“At the same time you can’t take away from the fact that they’re playing a brand of football now where. There are games that you can say Man United should be winning and they’re probably easy games. But it was not so long ago that anybody could come here and give Man Utd a game or beat Man Utd.
“So, you have to say he’s [Erik ten Hag] changed something. Something has changed here with the culture, what they’re doing now.
“They’re much in it right now, they’re up there, playing with confidence. And they’re not even in their final form of what he wants to do with them.
“They’re still playing in a counter-attacking style and that’s not how he plays. He wants to play more football so they’re progressing, for me.”
De Gea blunder comes in for heavy criticism from Keane
United’s win was secured in spite of an unbelievable error when De Gea. The Spaniard gifted Everton an equalizer when he allowed a Neal Maupay cross-come-shot to go between his legs in comical fashionwith Conor Coady on hand to take advantage.
Analyzing the mistake, Keane suggested the mistake was that bad, he jokingly accused De Gea of drinking.
It was a horror moment for the Spaniard, whose future at the club is coming under doubt amid claims Ten Hag wants to sign a Sevilla goalkeeper.
“Listen, obviously it’s a shocking mistake again, Everton keeping the ball alive and Onana does well there, nice, strong and aggressive,” Keane said at half-time. “Maupay puts it in but it’s a shocking mistake from an international goalkeeper.
“Everton have shown a bit of fight, they’ve turned it into a cup tie, but De Gea there… it’s like carry on football – it’s almost like he’s had a few drinks! Shocking mistake.
“It’s almost as if the goalkeeper’s been sent off and they’ve got an outfield player in goal who doesn’t know what to do. Horrendous mistake, it gives Everton some belief and a big lift for the supporters.”