Roy Keane was not pulling any punches with his assessment of Sheffield United this season.
The famously abrasive pundit was speaking on Sky Sports about the Blades following their 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.
That was their 21st loss in 26 Premier League games so far this season. United are bottom of the table and 15 points from safety.
Unless there is a remarkable turnaround in the next 12 games, the South Yorkshire side will be back playing in the Championship next term.
“I’ve got huge respect for Chris Wilder, he’s done a brilliant job,” Keane said. “But he got the plaudits last year.
“But this year, if you lose 21 matches in 26 games, you’re going to have to be criticised.”
Roy Keane on Sheffield United manager
“Last year I listened to a lot of Chris’ interviews after the game,” said Keane.
“(He said) ‘we’ve earned the right to be in this league, we’re going to enjoy it, we’re going to go for it’.
“This year I’ve listened to his interviews and (he’s saying) ‘we’re up against it’.”
The way Wilder has been with the media has certainly changed over the past 12 months.
Problems started to creep in post-lockdown, even as the Blades went onto finish ninth and achieve their highest position since 1992.
Wilder slammed his players as they lost 2-0 at Leicester City. It was the first of three defeats that ended 2019/20 for United.
As results have continued to falter, that has developed this term into defensiveness and at times, excuses.
Managers always say they don’t use them, but Wilder has constantly pointed to injuries, recruitment and the lack of quality at his disposal.
This peaked recently with a bizarre rant about not being “bothered in psychologists or do-gooders or lefties”.
Roy Keane on recruitment
“The recruitment this summer hasn’t been good enough,” Keane continued. “Players who have come into the club haven’t improved the team.”
This isn’t Wilder’s fault as he can only work with what he’s given, but there can certainly be question marks over the recruitment.
This isn’t to say the players they signed this season are necessarily bad, either. It’s just most of them aren’t yet ready for Premier League football.
Of those who arrived, the likes of Jayden Bogle, Oli Burke and Aaron Ramsdale have all impressed at times. But none have truly improved the first team.
When a club is trying to build on an impressive first campaign back in the top flight, that is a problem.
Roy Keane on the players
“We can sit here and say they’ve got a great bunch of lads and they are,” Keane said.
“I know some of them, I’ve worked with them. Some of the best lads you’d meet. But you need more than that in the Premier League.”
This basically reflects what Wilder said in his post-match interview following Sunday’s defeat.
The 53-year-old said his team are “giving everything” but “at times you’re just not good enough and haven’t got that quality to really compete”.
In that regard, Keane isn’t really telling us something we haven’t already heard.
It also comes across as a little patronising and isn’t really analysis.
The worrying thing is, when Wilder himself is saying his players aren’t good enough, then what hope is there?