Shrewsbury midfielder Ian Black has risked a Manchester United backlash by insisting their players don’t justify their pay packets.
The 30-year-old and his family have three season tickets in the Stretford End having grown up supporting the Red Devils.
Shrewsbury host United in Monday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash, the first time the teams have met in a competitive game.
Victory would be a hammer blow to Louis van Gaal following United’s 2-1 Europa League defeat to FC Midtjylland on Thursday and Black feels the players are to blame.
“Wayne Rooney has come out and said blame the players which is totally right and I totally agree,” said the one-time Scotland international.
“They are getting paid X amount of money to perform to the level they should be at that size of club and they have not done it.
“They have been poor but people write them off and you can never write them off. They have been unfortunate with the way they play.
“People talk about the manager and being under pressure but he is the manager at the biggest club in the world for a reason and he can handle that.
“People will always criticise the manager but he can only pick the best XI he thinks and it is always the manager who gets the sack.”
Defeat at Greenhous Meadow would be a nadir in United’s wretched season and ex-Rangers man Black knows the pressure could toll on Van Gaal should Micky Mellon’s men shock them.
“It would put massive pressure on him if we can go and achieve a result or draw or win,” Black said. “To be brutally honest I can’t tell the board how to act if we beat them.
“It is Man United and you never know how they are going to turn up. Beating them would be a dream, I can visualise it.”
Shrewsbury manager Mellon has sympathy for opposite number Van Gaal heading into Monday’s tie.
He said: “Oh, massive. When you’re a manager, you understand that at certain times you’re on your own. There are decisions that have got to be made and you will be held accountable for that and that’s me at Fleetwood and Barnsley and Shrewsbury.
“At Manchester United, if Louis Van Gaal blinks the world is looking at it and thinking, ‘Was that a proper blink or a twitch?’ But he will know that goes with the territory. You don’t take the Man United job if you don’t believe that is going to happen.
“Somebody said to me about the problems they’ve got and I said, ‘I wish we had those kind of problems, I wish I had Manchester United’s problems’.”
Mellon, whose Shrews side are the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Cup, insisted ex-Bayern Munich and Barcelona coach Van Gaal remained one of the best in the world, despite his struggles in Manchester.
He added: “Look at his CV. It’s ridiculous. Wow. If a lot of managers can do a thousandth of what he’s done, you’ll have had a great career. What he’s doing now is probably using his experiences of what’s happened to him before and getting on with the job.”