Roy Keane and Gary Neville had differing levels of sympathy when it came to analysing Manchester United‘s derby defeat by Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Second-half goals from Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane proved enough to put City one step closer to defending their title as they returned to the top of the Premier League table.
For United the defeat was their seventh in nine games and Keane, exasperated in his body language sat in the Sky Sports studio, pulled no punches in his assessment.
Gary Neville and Roy Keane didn’t see eye to eye as tensions rose after the Manchester derby
The former United team-mates had differing opinions when it came to effort levels of the side
Neville took some pride from United’s quick start but found himself quickly shot down by former team-mate Keane who was in no mood to let United’s current stars off the hook.
‘City in the first half an hour was as sloppy as I’ve seen them,’ Neville said. ‘They set such high standards, it’s about precision, quality of passes. United played a decent game. That’s as good as United have got.
But Keane, furious with the lack of desire shown by United against their city rivals, interjected.
Keane’s body language included him rolling his eyes as Neville tried to defend some players
Luke Shaw did not do enough in Keane’s opinion to prevent Bernardo Silva opening the scoring
‘They’ve had one shot on target Gary, one shot on target at home.’
‘That’s that team!’ Neville fired back. ‘What we saw there tonight between United and City was the gulf in class between the two teams.
‘I think that’s everything United have got. I don’t think I looked at any player on that pitch and thought they could’ve given more. That’s what they are. De Gea to be fair, he’s not normally like this.’
Neville was the most forgiving of United on the four-man panel assembled by Sky for the crucial derby game with Keane and Graeme Souness not passing up the opportunity to dig out United.
In no mood to bite his tongue, the outspoken Keane fired back at Neville moments after the initial assessments when the former United full-back said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s players ‘gave their all’ to prevent conceding the two goals.
‘You’re saying they gave it their all,’ Keane said, his annoyance at his colleague’s comments becoming increasingly obvious in his tone of voice when conversation turned to Brazilian midfielder Fred.
‘That’s cheating, what’s (Fred) done is cheating, letting the guy run off him.’
Much of Keane’s criticisms were levelled at Brazilian midfielder Fred for his role in second goal
Neville continued to stick to his points as he argued that Fred does commit to his challenges
Neville refused to bow down to Keane’s verdict and continued to persist with his sentiments that both Fred and Luke Shaw could not have given more over the 90 minutes.
With Keane seen rolling his eyes throughout the pair’s post-match argument in the studio, Neville added: ‘I think that’s what (Fred) is. Defensive wise he’ll skip into challenges, he’ll get beat, people will go past him. Sometimes he’ll win it, sometimes he won’t.
‘Watching Fred all season, he commits to challenges, he gets skipped past and he can’t get back, he can’t recover, he’s not got the legs. I think that’s what he is.
‘There’s nothing I’ve seen from United that makes me think they could’ve given more. They could’ve not made mistakes, but that’s the best they’ve got I think.’
Keane was a ferocious central midfielder during his days at United and would have lambasted his team-mates if he was in the current dressing room.
The performance of Fred in particular, in the position where he was so dominant over the years for United, was the one that left him seething most and Neville’s attempts to play down mistakes only angered the Irishman even more.
Keane added: ‘Look Gary, they’re strolling across! Fred sells himself short here. He gives the ball away, which can happen, then compounds it. You do not let (Raheem) Sterling then get goal side of you. Why aren’t people trying to stop the shot?
Keane accused Fred of ‘cheating’ as his error set City free for substitute Leroy Sane to score
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a huge rebuilding job ahead based on the derby, according to Keane
‘If that’s a player giving it their all, then Manchester United are in even more trouble than I think, and I think they’re in huge trouble.’
Neville attempted to argue that Solskjaer’s players have been ‘run into the ground’ come Fred’s mistake but at this point Keane was motoring and swiftly cut off his former team-mate.
‘Oh Gary Gary, it’s two yards man,’ he barked back. ‘I guarantee if you’d done the same, do you think we’d be telling you off? Of course we would!
‘It’s two yards! At least close it. The guy gets the shot away. Get out to him like your life depends on it!’
Despite having sympathy with both Shaw and Fred for their roles in both goals, Neville accepted goalkeeper David de Gea endured a poor evening as his disappointing form shows no signs of coming to an end.
The Spanish international was guilty of an error in the Champions League away in Barcelona and was once again under scrutiny after being beaten at his near post when Sane made it 2-0 in the second half on Wednesday.
United’s central midfielders were accused by Keane of not putting their bodies on the line
Neville could not extend his sympathies to David de Gea as he said he made a ‘really bad error’
‘The goalkeeper has to do better,’ Neville, in a rare moment of agreement with Keane on the night, said.
‘David de Gea, he’s been magnificent for Manchester United for so many years. But this season it’s just not happening for him. Those feet are letting him down. So many times we’ve seen them kick the ball away. Straight at him, off his shin into the back of the net.
‘I was in the Nou Camp for that mistake for the (Lionel) Messi goal, and it was something that shook me, watching De Gea make a mistake like that.
‘This one was not as bad but still for him, a really bad error. It’s not happening for him at the moment, he is going through a really bad time, a difficult time.