Graeme Souness believes there are several players at Manchester United not good enough to play for the team in the big games.
United lost ground at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday, with Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson among the starters for Louis van Gaal’s injury-hit side.
According to Souness, the Red Devils lack the quality to challenge for the title this season.
“I think the title is beyond them,” Souness told Sky Sports. “They could finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League again.
“It’s as much the football that they’re playing – or not playing – that the criticism is there.
“When you go into the really big games you look at your team and think ‘where are we weak, where are we vulnerable’. There are too many question marks hanging over too many people who are just maybe not good enough to play at a club like Manchester United in the big games.
“I don’t see them winning the league. I think the best they can hope for this year is Champions League [qualification].
“They’ll point to only being three points adrift, but they’re only three points adrift because the teams you really fancy to be consistent haven’t been consistent so far. I’d expect getting into the second half of the season, the likes of Manchester City will show a bit of consistency. Arsenal, if they go on a run, could open up a gap.”
Henry: No fun at Man Utd
Thierry Henry does not believe Manchester United’s players are enjoying life with the team this season, suggesting Van Gaal’s demands are taking away their freedom.
“It seems those guys are not enjoying it. The fun is not there,” said Henry.
“It’s well structured at times but almost too much, too rigid, very predictable. In the last third of the park you have to let those guys express themselves. It seems like they are not allowed to fly at times.
“We’ve seen it with Angel di Maria. He was great when he arrived last year then suddenly it seems like he had to do some stuff that he isn’t used to do.
“I understand the Dutch way of playing the game is you have to be in certain positions at certain times but in the last third you have to let the genius and the guy that can make the difference express himself. It seems like at times, they cannot do that.”
Redknapp: Players hiding behind LVG criticism
Jamie Redknapp, meanwhile, repeated Roy Keane’s claim that United’s players are hiding behind the criticism of the manager.
“I have an element of sympathy for them,” Redknapp said on Saturday Night Football. “To be fair to him [Van Gaal] they are full of injuries to people like Rooney.
“But even when Wayne Rooney comes back he’s got to do a lot more. He’s got to get back to the level where he was a year, two years ago. And I think there are a number of players who have been hiding behind the criticisms that Louis Van Gaal has been getting.”