Roy Keane takes swipe at Cristiano Ronaldo as he praises Ten Hag for axing 'energy sappers' and turning Man Utd around | The SunFebruary 2, 2023
ROY KEANE has admitted Cristiano Ronaldo's Man Utd exit has helped the club improve this season.
The Red Devils booked their place in the Carabao Cup final on Wednesday evening as they eased to a 5-0 aggregate victory over Nottingham Forest.
Erik ten Hag's men now have an excellent chance to end United's six-year wait for silverware.
And they also sit fourth in the Premier League table as they bid to return to the Champions League.
The upturn in form comes following Ronaldo's departure in December, with the Portuguese superstar, 37, seeing his contract terminated after an explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
He has since gone on to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr, with Man Utd losing just one of their 12 games following his move.
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And Keane, a former team-mate and huge admirer of Ronaldo, has conceded it has helped Ten Hag to succeed.
Initially refusing to name Ronaldo, he told Sky Sports: "When the manager came in, United were rock bottom and we had to talk about the recruitment, but what I think was key as well was the five or six players that left.
"I'm not knocking all these players, Pogba, Mata, Matic, Jesse Lingard, lads who'd been around and knew they were leaving.
"They knew they'd be leaving and their contracts were up for most of them and I think that wasn't helping.
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"There definitely feels around the club a new energy, the new manager has put a few markers down after a bad to start to the season, and that momentum and that feel good factor is back at the club. The energy levels are different."
Keane was then specifically pressed on whether he believes Ronaldo's exit was a reason behind United's impressive results.
To which he replied: "I think that's helped [Ronaldo's departure] the manager and the club.
"No one wanted that to be hanging over the second half of the season and it should have been dealt with in the summer.
"That whole Ronaldo situation, he obviously wasn't going to sit on the bench and be happy with it.
'They've now dealt with it and now it's not hanging over the club anymore.
"But also the other five or six lads that left, Cavani another one. Those who were fringe players, coming off the bench, and when they were coming on they weren't bringing anything because they felt they should have been starting.
"Those subs and fringe players have to come on and be ready, where as the fringe players last year, you just felt they were energy-sappers."
Ronaldo scored 24 goals in 38 games during the first season of his second spell at Old Trafford.
But he struggled significantly during the first half of the 2022/23 campaign, netting just three times in 16 appearances.
Since his arrival at Al-Nassr, he has also failed to hit the back of the net in his first two games for the club.
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Meanwhile, United's forward options, in particular Marcus Rashford, have been superb in recent months.
The England international, 25, has bagged 18 goals and eight assists in 31 games this season.
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