Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane expressed his sadness with the club’s current plight following their exit from the Europa League on Thursday.
United have one less trophy to fight for after they were unable to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Liverpool, held to a 1-1 draw as a Philippe Coutinho stunner cancelled out Anthony Martial’s first-half penalty at Old Trafford.
The 3-1 aggregate defeat heaped further pressure on manager Louis van Gaal, with United stuttering in sixth position in the Premier League after 29 matches and facing a daunting FA Cup quarter-final replay at West Ham.
“I’m really saddened by what I’ve seen of United over the last year or two,” Keane told ITV.
“It’s like a bunch of strangers have been thrown together. When you play for United and you put that jersey on, I always felt 10-foot tall. But when you see these players, some of them look like they’re shrinking with the jersey on, whether it is the pressure or not.
“If you’re playing for United, you have to deal with that pressure and expectation and this group of players are certainly struggling.
“I know they have had injuries. It goes to show how important Wayne Rooney is to this club.
“I’m looking at the characters. Where are the leaders in this group? Even tonight when they weren’t quite at it and were chasing, trying to get back into the game.
“Liverpool could’ve scored five or six goals easily. You have to use your head and your brain. That is where the leaders and characters come into it and we’re not seeing it.”