Pep Guardiola has dismissed Erling Haaland’s critics and insisted the Manchester City striker is continuing to make a big impact.

Haaland has scored 30 goals for City this term but only one in his last five. After Roy Keane last week claimed the Norway international was comparable to a League Two player in his general play, Jamie Carragher this week described him as “the ultimate luxury footballer” and said he was not world class.

But asked if he was happy with Haaland’s all-round contribution, Guardiola said: “A lot. He helps us to make more spaces in the areas and his contribution has been exceptional since the day he arrived last season.”

Guardiola said pundits “can do whatever they want”, but insisted he was only interested in the performance of his team, who are still in contention to repeat last season’s treble after drawing the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid 3-3 on Tuesday night.

City can go top of the Premier League for 24 hours at least if they beat Luton on Saturday, and face an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea next weekend.

“We are quite similar to last season,” Guardiola said. “We scored four goals, four goals, three goals in the last three games, 11 goals in three games.

“And (Haaland) helped us score some of them (by) creating lots of spaces for the other ones to score the goals. I saw in his face, in what he said after the game, in the locker room, he was extremely happy (in Madrid).

“It was a good result, let’s see what happens next Wednesday. Now the target is Luton.”

Bidding to win the Premier League for a fourth straight season, City remain locked in a tight race at the top. They start the weekend a point behind both Arsenal and Liverpool, with their rivals not in action until Sunday.

City have twice won the title on the final day of the season under Guardiola, but this is the first time they have faced a three-way title race so late in the campaign.

“We know what we have to do,” Guardiola said. “We’ve done it. The people say, ‘you’ve done it, so you’re going to win’. No, it’s not about that. But we have done it and know exactly what we have to do.

“The players will be ready. There is no doubt about that. We know what we are playing for.”

Although a treble repeat is still possible, there is a sense City have not been at the same standards this term, with injuries taking a toll.

“(The players) know how tough it has been this season for many reasons, maybe one of the toughest seasons we have faced for sure,” Guardiola added.

“We know exactly internally how difficult it has been in many, many moments this season and we were still there, we were there. I know the players will be ready.”

After Tuesday’s match in Madrid, Rodri had said he was in need of a rest after his 41st appearance of the season. Guardiola indicated any player who wanted a breather need only ask, but that he expects the 27-year-old Spain midfielder to be available to face Luton.

“It is normal,” Guardiola said. “If one player feels that, what is the problem? All the teams who play in the latter stages of all competitions, Champions League, Europa League, fighting for qualifications, or against relegation, all have the same problem with the amount of games…

“I’m pretty sure Rodri will be ready. I know him. After the game he was tired because it was tough, the game against Real Madrid. He came from Crystal Palace and it was really tough as well.

“But I know him. He will arrive and say, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready’.”

Phil Foden scored a brilliant hat-trick as Manchester City kept the pressure on in the Premier League title race with a 4-1 win over Champions League-chasing Aston Villa.

A day after defending his star striker against criticism from Roy Keane, Pep Guardiola left Erling Haaland on the bench alongside Kevin De Bruyne, clearing the stage for Foden to grab the spotlight with an outstanding performance and his second hat-trick of the campaign.

After Jhon Duran cancelled out Rodri’s opener, the 23-year-old put City back in front with a free-kick late in the first half before two excellent strikes settled it just after the hour mark, taking Foden to 21 City goals for the season.

Pep Guardiola’s side remain third, a point behind leaders Arsenal and level with Liverpool – who host Sheffield United on Thursday – after their first win over a top-five side this term.

But while little has changed in the table, this was a far more fluid performance from the champions days after Arsenal ended their run of 57 consecutive home games with a goal.

The decision to leave out De Bruyne and Haaland was made with next week’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid looming, but neither have been at their best since coming back from injury in recent weeks.

Jack Grealish and Jeremy Doku came in to play on the wings and Foden shifted inside, from where he would orchestrate City’s win.

Villa, already without the injured Ollie Watkins, had to replace goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez due to illness just before kick-off and stand-in Robin Olsen was soon picking the ball out of his net.

Foden fed Doku on the right and the Belgian cut it back for Rodri to sweep home his eighth goal of the season after 11 minutes.

City’s lead lasted only nine minutes before Villa drew level with an excellent counter-attack. Julian Alvarez lost the ball on the edge of the Villa box and the visitors swept forward before Duran played a quick one-two with Morgan Rogers and fired across Stefan Ortega’s goal into the far corner.

After Jack Grealish – booed constantly by his old fans in the Villa end – was booked for dissent when a free-kick went in Douglas Luiz’s favour, Olsen made a fine save with his right boot to deny Alvarez.

Luiz was living dangerously late in the first half. Already booked for bringing down Grealish on the edge of the area, he then fouled Foden in an almost identical spot in first-half stoppage time.

Darren England kept his cards in his pocket but Villa were punished anyway as Foden found a gap in the wall left by Nicolo Zaniolo to beat Olsen.

There was still time for Alvarez to go close twice before half-time, with Olsen tipping a close-range header over the crossbar, and the goalkeeper was busy again at the start of the second half, denying Bernardo Silva after Foden’s neat pass left him one-on-one.

Villa threatened on the break as Luiz drove forward and hit a shot that was tipped over by Ortega, who then denied Clement Lenglet from the resulting corner.

But Foden would soon settle the match. In the 62nd minute Rodri rode Moussa Diaby’s challenge and rolled the ball inside for Foden to beat Olsen with a first-time shot into the bottom right corner.

Lewis lashed a shot narrowly wide but the killer fourth goal arrived in the 69th minute. The chance appeared to have gone when Foden lost the ball on the edge of the Villa area, but Calum Chambers scuffed his clearance straight back to Foden, and he lashed a shot into the top right corner.

Pep Guardiola labelled Erling Haaland the “best striker in the world” after the Manchester City frontman was likened to a League Two player by Roy Keane.

The former Manchester United captain made the observation in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports after Haaland drew a blank in City’s goalless draw against Premier League title rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Keane concurred Haaland, top of the scoring charts after winning last season’s Golden Boot, is in a class of his own in front of goal but added his all-round game is “almost like a League Two player”.

Guardiola was unimpressed by the remarks, arguing Haaland was instrumental in City’s treble success last season before insisting any blame for not scoring against Arsenal should be shared by the team.

“I don’t agree with him, absolutely not,” Guardiola said. “He’s the best striker in the world and he helped us to win what we won last season. Erling is exceptional.

“The reason we don’t create chances is not because of Erling. The standards that Erling has are unbelievable and everyone expects other things.

“There are games where he could be better but I knew during the game against Arsenal that the reason why we were not creating chances was not because of Erling.

“We needed more presence in the box. If we had that Erling would have more space. It happens sometimes. If you want to score goals, bring a lot of players to the opponent keeper, it is as simple as that.”

Guardiola, whose side welcome top-four hopefuls Aston Villa on Wednesday evening, admitted he is routinely bemused by former players offering scathing views about contemporary footballers.

However, the Spaniard accepts that criticism comes with the territory of being a high-profile professional footballer.

“If you don’t want to accept that as a football player, you have to dedicate yourself to another job,” Guardiola said. “When you are a public figure, you have to accept it.

“That’s why when you are in contract talks, you have to ask for a lot of money to accept those moments.

“I’m surprised it comes from former players. With journalists I can understand because they have never been on the pitch but the former players is always a surprise (when they are critical).”

When asked if he could see himself becoming a pundit in the future, Guardiola added: “I don’t know what is going to happen but I am not the guy who is going to criticise my colleagues when I retire.”

Guardiola sarcastically quipped his “ego” was the driving factor behind a heated on-pitch exchange with Jack Grealish following the full-time whistle after the Arsenal match.

Grealish has had a reduced role this season, partly through injuries, but Guardiola believes the England midfielder could have an impact as the season reaches the business end.

“I have the feeling that he’s back – in mood and training and desire,” Guardiola added. “Now I’m pleased.

“I’ve only asked the players to be ready and be themselves, it doesn’t matter if they perform at the highest level or less. We need everyone with the title schedule.”

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane compared Erling Haaland to a "League Two player" following Manchester City's draw with Arsenal.

City failed to score at home for the first time in 58 matches in all competitions, but it was Haaland's general play which failed to impress Keane.

The Norway international had four shots in total - the most of any player on the field - but none of those tested David Raya in the Arsenal goal.

"The level of his general play is so poor and not just today," Keane said on Sky Sports.

"I think laying his stuff off, headers, whatever it might be…. In terms of in front of goal, he's the best in the world.

"But his general play for such a player it is so poor. Not just today, he has to improve.

"He's almost like a League Two player, that's how I look at him. His general play has to improve and it will do over the next few years.

"Being a brilliant striker is fantastic, but he has to improve his all-round game."

City's stalemate with Arsenal marked the first time they had played out a 0-0 draw in the league since March 2022 against Crystal Palace.

Pep Guardiola's men have slipped to third place, three points behind leaders Liverpool after the Reds' 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Haaland, who has 18 goals in 24 league games this term, will hope to get the nod when City return to action against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Roy Keane has indicated he could be interested in the vacant Republic of Ireland manager’s job as the search for Stephen Kenny’s successor continues.

Former Manchester United and Ireland skipper Keane served as Martin O’Neill’s number two during his five-year reign, and has admitted a return to the international set-up is something he might consider.

Asked about the vacancy on the Stick to Football YouTube show, the 52-year-old said: “International football, I enjoyed it when I was a coach.

“I liked the dynamics of it where you’re not in every day and it’s not about bringing players in and dealing with the board every week or the academy.

“Yeah, that does appeal.”

Keane is a man who continues to divide opinion in his native country, not only as a result of his premature return from the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East after a bust-up with then manager Mick McCarthy, but also because of his forthright approach to management.

There is little doubt his return would be box office, just as his spell as O’Neill’s assistant was, but whether he is the man to rekindle Ireland’s on-field fortunes is a topic for debate.

The Football Association of Ireland opted not to hand Kenny a new contract following November’s friendly draw with New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium, which came in the wake of a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

England Under-21s coach Lee Carsley, who won 40 caps for Ireland, has been high on the FAI’s list since they launched the recruitment process, with another experienced former international, Chris Hughton, among the favourites to replace Kenny.

Hughton was not available when the job came up, but he is now after being sacked by Ghana following their failure to make it to the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

It is understood the FAI hope to make an appointment before the Nations League draw in Paris on February 8.

Ireland are due to face Belgium and Switzerland in a friendly double-header in Dublin in March.

Celtic completed the signing of Roy Keane on a free transfer on this day in 2005.

A month earlier, Keane had abruptly left Manchester United by mutual consent after his relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson deteriorated during a spell on the sidelines through injury.

Keane had been hurt in a challenge with Liverpool’s Luis Garcia in September of that year and grew frustrated while out.

He had already clashed with Ferguson during the club’s pre-season training camp in Portugal, and then angered the manager with an MUTV interview in which he said he was open to finishing his career elsewhere as his contract ran down.

A further MUTV appearance in early November did even more damage as the United skipper gave a damning assessment of some of his team-mates’ performances in a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough.

In 12 full seasons with United, Keane had won seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League, but Ferguson was his usual ruthless self and, as tensions mounted, he cut ties as Keane’s contract was cancelled.

Gordon Strachan’s Celtic pounced as Keane joined the club he had supported as a boy – the midfielder signing an 18-month deal.

He would have to wait until January to make his debut, but it came in a shock 2-1 defeat to First Division Clyde in the Scottish Cup.

A month later, Keane scored in a Scottish Premier League win over Falkirk, which proved to be his only goal for the club.

After helping Celtic to win both the league title and Scottish League Cup, Keane retired that summer on medical advice.

The announcement came a month after he had returned to Old Trafford for his United testimonial, a friendly against Celtic in which Keane played 45 minutes for each side.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will not change his habit of coaching his players on the pitch in the immediate aftermath of games despite Roy Keane’s claim that it is “all for show”.

Guardiola was seen talking to Erling Haaland after last Sunday’s 3-0 Manchester derby win at Old Trafford, going over the first-half header City’s top scorer had missed and the almost identical second-half opportunity the Norwegian buried.

It is something Guardiola has done for years – he had a similar animated chat with Haaland on the pitch at Burnley at the start of the season, and back in 2019 interrupted City’s celebrations after their 6-0 FA Cup final win over Watford to make a point to Raheem Sterling.

Former United captain Roy Keane was unimpressed last weekend, saying on Sky Sports that Guardiola was doing it for the cameras and should “get down the tunnel, enjoy your victory”, but the City boss said he often wants to make his point while it is still fresh.

“I respect a lot Roy Keane,” Guardiola said. “Sometimes I finish the game and go inside, sometimes I stay there. When I find a player we chat about the game. I know the camera is there.

“At that moment I was outside, wanted to (celebrate) with the fans, especially away. For the fans United is an important game.

“We chat about the second goal, the miss for the last minute (of the first half) with the (Andre) Onana action. He could be better, stronger.

“The header (could be) stronger to put the ball in the back of the net with more power. It happened with Erling in Burnley. I can avoid it.

“Maybe Roy is right but it happens. I don’t need at my age to do something for the people.

“Sometimes I go inside, sometimes say hi to the referees. It’s what I feel in the moment.

“I don’t think after the game to go to the players to do some spectacle for the people…

“I could have done it inside, of course. I’ve done it many times in the locker room – look at that image, that action.

“It’s fresh, the players have that image in the moment. Sometimes you make the impact that remains here (in the head).”

Haaland’s brace at Old Trafford took him to 13 goals in 15 games for City this season.

The 23-year-old hit 52 in all competitions last season, his first in England, when a player who had often suffered niggling injuries at Borussia Dortmund benefitted from a month off during the World Cup break.

There will be no such opportunity this time around but Guardiola said he had no concerns over his star man’s fitness at present.

“He’s so important for us, he feels really fit now,” Guardiola said. “Sometimes he had niggles, he came from Dortmund. Now it’s completely the opposite, he feels free.

“Today I saw him training with incredible energy. I don’t think about March, April, May. We try to win games to be contenders for the competitions.

“We will see, if he goes down, he takes a rest. Now, he’s feeling good. Having him on the pitch gives us confidence and is an incredible threat…

“He scored a lot of goals, every game he has a lot of chances to score more. So incredible, a lovely player for us. We use him a lot.”

Roy Keane insisted Bruno Fernandes should be stripped of the Manchester United captaincy after they were outclassed by Manchester City in a one-sided derby at Old Trafford.

Erling Haaland struck from the penalty spot after 26 minutes and then headed home shortly after the interval before Phil Foden put an emphatic stamp on a 3-0 victory for Pep Guardiola’s visitors.

While City laid down a marker in their Premier League title defence, United’s defeat was their fifth in just 10 matches this season and left them 11 points adrift of leaders Tottenham.

Assessing what United can do immediately in an attempt to rectify their failings amid a turbulent time for the club both on and off the field, former skipper Keane suggested taking the armband off Fernandes, who assumed the role from out-of-favour defender Harry Maguire ahead of the campaign.

Keane, who captained United from 1997 to 2005 during one of the club’s most successful periods, told Sky Sports: “After today, having watched him again, I would definitely take the captaincy off him.

“One hundred per cent. I know it’s a big decision, they’ve changed the captaincy with Maguire. But Fernandes is not captaincy material.

“I think he’s talented player, no doubt about it, but what I saw today…his whinging, his moaning, his throwing his arms up in the air constantly, it really isn’t acceptable.

“What we saw today, I would take that off him. The manager is capable of doing that. He’s the opposite to what I would want in a captain.”

Wales manager Rob Page has promised to “ignore the noise” amid reports that his job could be in jeopardy.

It was reported on Saturday morning – little more than 24 hours before Wales’ vital Euro 2024 qualifier against Croatia in Cardiff – that Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney had wanted former Sunderland and Ipswich manager and TV pundit Roy Keane to replace Page following June defeats to Armenia and Turkey.

Page signed a four-year deal in September 2022, but Mooney confirmed this week that the manager’s position would be reviewed next month if Wales did not qualify for Euro 2024 automatically.

Wales are currently fourth in Group D and need to win their final three games against Croatia, Armenia and Turkey to realistically secure a top-two place and avoid the play-offs in March.

Page responded to the speculation over his future at his pre-match press conference for the Croatia game, saying: “We’ve got to ignore all the noise. It is noise and that’s it, so we try to protect the players as much as we can.

“I have not spoken to the chief executive at all, so I could not tell you whether it is true or not (that he is to be replaced).

“All I have to focus on is, before the World Cup I signed a four-year deal and the long-term plan for me is to start introducing young players into the group.

“We are in a transition period and we have said this time and time again. We have lost big players like Joe Allen and Gareth Bale. Not just for what they bring us on the pitch, but also the value they add in the changing room.

“We’ve seen the talent we’ve got coming through. We’re developing these young players and it’s going to take time.

“I get the frustration. We want to win games of football but there’s got to be a bit of perspective. I’m doing what’s best for the FAW, not myself. By introducing these young players, it is better for Wales in the future.”

Three members of Page’s coaching staff – Alan Knill, Ian Mitchell and Tony Roberts – took the unusual step of attending the press conference at the back of the room in an apparent show of unity.

“It’s a great gesture from the staff, not something I was ready for but I really appreciate it,” said a visibly-emotional Page.

“We are really close and everyone is pushing in the right direction. I wish the supporters and you guys (the media) could see what we’ve got in that changing room. It’s incredible. The staff here means a lot.

“We’re in an industry where everyone wants to win games of football. I feel the frustration as well but the bigger picture is we have a plan to introduce younger players for the future.

“I can’t worry about the business side of it, cost-cutting and all that. I’ve got a job to do as a football coach to get them in the right place, physically and mentally, to win games of football.”

Mooney told BBC Wales on Wednesday that a “serious review” would take place on Page’s position after the Armenia and Turkey games next month when “everything will be settled”.

Wales captain Ben Davies was critical of Mooney’s comments, saying: “It’s not helpful. We don’t want noise coming from within the organisation. We hope that everybody is on the same page.

“It is disappointing to hear, but as far we are concerned it’s not our focus. Our focus is the game against Croatia.”

Asked specifically about Page, Davies said: “We’re very supportive of the manager. It’s professional every day and everyone wants to come on camp.

“Having a manager always behind you and giving you support breeds loyalty and he deserves our support now.

“We’re a tight-knit group and I think that part of the reason we’ve had the success we’ve had over the years is because we all stick together.”

Wales defender Chris Mepham is in contention to start against Croatia, despite being out for a month with a hamstring injury.

Roy Keane announced his retirement from international football on this day in 2005 after the Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

The Manchester United captain walked away from the international stage after Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Switzerland which left them fourth in their qualifying group.

Keane’s decision was the second time he had retired from international football after his high-profile fallout with then manager Mick McCarthy in Saipon during preparations for the 2002 World Cup.

Keane returned under the management of Brian Kerr in 2004 and played his last game during a 1-0 defeat to France in Dublin a year later.

“Like all football supporters in the country, I am disappointed that the Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the World Cup finals,” Keane said.

“Much as I would like to continue playing for my country, I feel the time has come to retire from international football and concentrate on domestic football for whatever is the remainder of my career.”

In November 2005, Keane left Manchester United by mutual consent, putting an end to a 12-year stay where he made 480 appearances.

Police have launched an investigation after footage was circulated on social media following an alleged assault on Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane.

Sky confirmed that fellow pundit Micah Richards attempted to “defuse” the situation at the Emirates Stadium following Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United.

The Metropolitan Police said there had been no arrests but they are investigating an alleged assault after the game on Sunday.

Sky said the alleged assault “immediately” preceded the footage on social media.

Confirming the incident, a Sky Sports spokeswoman said: “We understand the police are investigating an alleged assault by a member of the public immediately preceding the footage circulating on social media.

“In the footage seen, Micah Richards was acting to defuse a situation.”

In their own short statement, the Met said: “Police are investigating following an assault that is alleged to have occurred at the Emirates Stadium during an Arsenal v Manchester United match on Sunday, 3 September.

“There have been no arrests. Inquiries are ongoing.

“Any witnesses or those with information are asked to call 101 ref CAD 6961/3 Sept.”

Roy Keane has made an official Manchester United appearance for the first time in 18 years as he launched the club’s 2023-24 third kit.

The former captain’s successful stay at Old Trafford memorably ended in 2005 after an explosive interview with the in-house TV channel MUTV, in which he criticised his team-mates.

Keane has been back to the club many times over the years as a pundit, but his involvement in the promotional video for their third strip is the first in a formal capacity.

The Irishman is seen in the video asking the current crop of players whether they have what it takes to be a true red devil – reference to the return of the fan favourite red devil emblem on the jersey.

“So you’re a devil are you? Well let’s remind you of the terms,” Keane says. “The devil isn’t something you wear. It’s more like a pact, a deal, shall we say.

“It’s not for everyone. We expect a lot. And as sure as the sun will rise, we will know if you mean it. So have a good long think.

“What do you get in return? What’s on offer? It’s Manchester United.

“So there it is. No small print. Sign on the dotted line. But you already signed, didn’t you? Before you were even born.”

Keane ends the sequence sitting at a table in front a plate of prawn sandwiches – a nod to his famous “prawn sandwich brigade” comment, criticising a section of the Old Trafford support.

Former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane delivered a withering assessment of England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford following Everton’s Premier League defeat by title-chasing Manchester City.

The 29-year-old was given little chance by Ilkay Gundogan’s stunning first-half strike, but was unable to keep out Erling Haaland’s header seconds later and was well beaten by Gundogan’s second-half free-kick as City won 3-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon.

Analysing the third goal, Keane, who has questioned Pickford’s credentials in the past, disagreed with fellow pundit Micah Richards’ opinion of Gareth Southgate’s number one.

He told Sky Sports: “Pickford, for the goal…my goodness. He looks so small in there. There’s no spring, he’s not anticipating.

“Micah said before the game he’s a top goalkeeper. He’s not.”

Keane was, however, full of praise for Gundogan and in particular, his improvised 37th-minute finish after he had controlled Riyad Mahrez’s cross on his thigh before flicking the ball home with his back still to goal.

He said: “What an outstanding player. Again, we mentioned (Everton boss) Sean Dyche will be disappointed with the defending, but once it goes in there, his first touch is brilliant; his second one is even better.

“What a player this guy is, absolutely brilliant, the way he times his runs into the box…what a magnificent finish. I’d watch that all day. Brilliant.”

Gary Neville labelled Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes "embarrassing" and Roy Keane said Erik ten Hag's players should go into hiding after a 7-0 humbling by Liverpool.

Liverpool's three starting forwards – Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez – each scored twice, with substitute Roberto Firmino coming off the bench to add to the humiliation.

It was Liverpool's heaviest-ever win over United, their great rivals, and came just a week after the visitors to Anfield won the EFL Cup.

If United's Wembley win pointed to a bright future, this Sunday shoeing on Merseyside was a wake-up call.

United legends Neville and Keane offered no sympathy.

A stunned Neville said after the game: "They've not understood, I don't think, the dangers of this fixture, that when you concede a goal and the crowd get up, it can just swallow you alive and that's what happened today. That Manchester United group of players have been eaten alive in that second half."

During the game, Neville condemned United's defending as "a mess", "appalling", and at 3-0 he said the visitors had "lost their heads".

At 4-0, Neville said United's experienced stars were "playing like schoolboys", and as the scoreline worsened for the men from Old Trafford so the rage increased.

"The second half has been an absolute disgrace, a shambles," Neville said on Sky Sports, "epitomised by no one more than the captain, Bruno Fernandes, who I think has been embarrassing at times.

"It's not their usual performance, it's not their usual spirit, it's not their usual form, and [Ten Hag] will deal with it, I'm sure, very quickly, like he's dealt with other difficult situations this season."

Looking at Fernandes, Neville said: "Some of his behaviour in the second half has been a disgrace."

Keane agreed on that point, saying Fernandes had been "nothing short of disgraceful" in what goes down as the joint-heaviest defeat in United's history, in terms of goal margin.

"You wouldn't be happy with him in your dressing room today," Keane added.

A no-nonsense midfielder and captain in his time, Keane said the result for United made it "obviously a very, very bad day, obviously a shocking day really".

He added: "The senior players, you can use all the words... embarrassing, they didn't show any leadership skills, particularly the senior players, the goals they gave away were shocking.

"Thank goodness I've never been part of a team that's been beaten by that much playing for Man United. The players will be embarrassed and no doubt be ashamed of their performance, particularly the second half when the going got tough and they just went missing to give up that many goals.

"It is the hardest place to come for a Manchester United player. When you go two goals down you've got to show some sort of pride, fight, spirit. They didn't show any of that."

Keane praised Liverpool, saying Jurgen Klopp's team were "brilliant", "back to their very, very best" and "ruthless".

But there was no doubt United let them walk over them.

"The senior players for Man United, the players we give the big build-up to, they're the ones who let the club down today," Keane said. 

"I always try and imagine that if you get beaten in a game like this, six or seven nil, you'd go into hiding as a player. I think I'd go missing for a few months. It really is that embarrassing for the players."

Manchester United legend Roy Keane saluted Marcus Rashford for proving he has the character to be the team's main man, but Gary Neville now wants him to replicate his form season after season.

Rashford is enjoying a phenomenal campaign, with his 25 goals across all competitions prior to Sunday's trip to Liverpool already his best return for a single season.

There appeared to be doubts about Rashford's long-term future at United after a hugely underwhelming 2021-22 season, but he has had a new lease of life since Erik ten Hag's arrival.

He showed real promise before the World Cup, but it is since his return from Qatar that Rashford's form has reached new heights, scoring 10 goals in his previous 10 league games ahead of Sunday.

That haul includes a run of five successive goalscoring appearances, with the England international giving United a clinical touch in attack – his 25 goals have come from just 16.5 xG (expected goals).

Keane acknowledged he had reservations about Rashford in that regard, but the 25-year-old is emphatically proving him wrong.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Keane said: "He's in great form and what's been surprising in the last few months is, I wasn't sure if Marcus had that personality to want to be the main man, but he has, particularly with [Cristiano] Ronaldo leaving and [Anthony] Martial injured, he has definitely taken that responsibility.

"His goals, the type of goals he's getting: he's scored a couple of headers recently. I never knew he had that in his locker.

"We know obviously about his pace, his skill when beating people, but I think he's enjoying the responsibility. He's in the form of his life, he seems fit, he seems mentally clear, he's focusing more on his football now.

"There were question marks over the past few years about whether he was distracted, a lot of people hanging on to him. Now it looks like football is his priority and he's getting the rewards."

However, Neville – another former United captain – feels Rashford now has to ensure this season is not just a flash in the pan.

Twice before he has broken the 20-goal mark in a single season but been unable to maintain that level, whereas one of his opponents on Sunday – Liverpool's Salah – has done so in all six of his campaigns with the Reds.

Such ability has inspired Liverpool to success in the Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and the Champions League.

"I think Marcus can look at Salah," Neville added. "What Marcus has done this season is fantastic, but Salah's been doing that for six or seven seasons, winning Premier League titles, Champions League trophies.

"He's reliable and consistent, and that's where Marcus now is building that sort of feeling and momentum in his game, but he's got to do it for the next three, four, five seasons and take Manchester United to those titles that Salah has at Liverpool."

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