Manchester United face renewed pressure as they prepare to host Tottenham Hotspur in a crucial English Premier League clash on Saturday.
United suffered a humbling 4-1 defeat against cross-town rivals Manchester City last Sunday, and while the result was not unexpected, it was the nature of the loss that has sparked fierce criticism.
Ralf Rangnick’s team were utterly outclassed and never looked capable of mounting a competitive effort of any shape or form, with the gulf between the two teams coming sharply into perspective.
“I think the worst thing you could say about United is they did give up,” legendary former captain Roy Keane told Sky Sports afterwards.
“For a player in a derby, or any game, to give up, it’s unforgivable really. The beauty of top-level sport is there is no hiding place. We saw all United’s shortcomings today.
“There’s ways to lose football matches, we’ve all lost football matches, but the way United lost today. They stopped running. They gave up. There’s players out there not running back.
“That’s what I don’t understand. The manager will be criticised, and the tactics, but players not running back when they are playing for Man United is unacceptable. They threw the towel in, which is shameful.”
It’s against this backdrop that United will now face another all-important clash against Tottenham, who are on the hunt for a top four spot in the league.
United’s loss to City saw them drop from fourth to fifth place on the log, and they are now just two points ahead of West Ham and Spurs, with the latter also having two games in hand over the Red Devils.
Spurs captain Harry Kane has said he is relishing the prospect of Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford, with his team high on confidence after thrashing Everton last time out, while United are reeling from defeat.
“We obviously feel that there’s an opportunity for us there because we have had a great result and we could try to use that momentum, especially away from home, against their crowd. But it’ll be a tough game. They have got some great players.
“They beat us earlier on in the season comfortably (3-0) – we have got to have all that in our heads, we have got to make sure we go with the right mindset,” Kane added.
“It’s a game we’re looking forward to. Old Trafford away is one of the best games you play in the league and you have got to be excited. You have got to go there, try to be free and put in another good performance.”
In some potentially good news for United, Edinson Cavani could be back from a groin injury, while Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to recover in time after missing the City match with a hip flexor issue. Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw could also be available after recovering from Covid-19.