Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has given his vote of confidence to manager Louis van Gaal, saying he hopes the board allows him to see out the third and final year of his contract at Old Trafford, though there is a distinct lack of character within the team.
Keane said United are still in transition following the departure of their most successful manager Alex Ferguson in 2013, with Van Gaal struggling to restore the club’s status as the Premier League’s dominant force amid reports link Jose Mourinho with a move to Manchester.
Ferguson oversaw United’s most successful period – in which Keane proved a vital player – and the former Republic of Ireland international said winning the FA Cup ahead of Crystal Palace would represent a successful season for Van Gaal and Co.
“It was always going to be difficult, even for David Moyes, after Alex Ferguson,” said Keane while talking on ESPN’ podcast Beyond the Pitch.
“But I think if United can win the cup — it might be difficult to finish fourth — I don’t see why United won’t let him finish out the last year of his contract.
“I think Van Gaal has made it clear he’d like to do that. And I hope he does.
“I don’t like sitting around watching managers suffering and I think if they can win the FA Cup then it might just give him the breathing space to finish the job off next year — and that, when we’re talking about Manchester United, is winning league titles, et cetera.”
Keane said a complete rebuild was not necessary for United, despite their league struggles.
United topped the Premier League in December but have since fallen into fifth and face a mammoth task to overtake cross-town rivals Manchester City in fourth with three games to play.
“Rebuild is too strong a word but there’s a lot of hard work ahead for Man United because of the competition around,” he said.
“Leicester coming through. Chelsea will be stronger next year. Man City with a new manager. It’s not going to get any easier for United but if they’re going to recruit again this summer — which it looks like they’ll have to — whatever about getting good players, United probably need two or three characters in the team so that on their bad days they’re capable of grinding out results.
“I just think they don’t have enough characters in that team to get them back to winning league titles at this moment.”