Former captain Roy Keane has launched a remarkable attack on Manchester United, saying that the club has only got backwards in past one year and that players such as Phil Jones must toughen up.

Roy Keane, known for his sharp remarks, has once more given a frank opinion about the current squad. Keane also criticized young duo of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, insisting “it would have been no surprise had Roy Hodgson not picked them for England’s World Cup squad this week.”

Keane said: “I’ve watched United live nine, 10 times this year and they have been none of those things. If anything, I think they have gone backwards.”

Keane claimed that he expects much more from the likes of Jones and Chris Smalling. “They’ve had a platform for the last couple of years,” he said. “We were told two or three years ago Jones was going to be the new Duncan Edwards, Smalling was this … I’ve watched United live nine, 10 times this year and they have been none of those things. If anything I think they have gone backwards. I’ve actually been a big fan of them – yes, give them a chance, you say you have to give players a chance to mature but also you’ve got players who you say we’ve given you a chance and you’re not taking it.

“They need to do a lot better if they want to cement their place at Man United and United to win trophies. Jones needs to toughen up. Every time I see him he is getting carried off. He’s got to toughen up – he’s playing for Man United. They have to recruit in the summer – they might get two.

“It’s the spine of the team. United have come up short defensively and in the middle of the park they have not done enough. You watch any of the teams that are winning trophies, Jesus I’m stating the obvious, you’ve got to have a strong spine, goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker and United have been short in two of those areas. It makes it very difficult to win trophies.”

Rio Ferdinand recently said good bye to Manchester United, complaining that he was not given proper opportunity to take the leave of the fans. But Keane has no sympathy for him. He said: “He didn’t have a chance to say goodbye? You can say goodbye on Twitter, can’t you?”

He added: “If you look after the last few months and you’re at a club like United and it’s quiet on the contract talks then you’re going to be leaving.”

Manchester United sacked coach David Moyes last month amidst disastrous campaign but Keane believes more than Scot, Ed Sherwood is to be blamed. “He [Moyes] had one transfer window, and it’s not always down to the manager when players don’t come in,” said Keane. The former United captain was speaking at broadcaster ITV’s World Cup launch. “I think Ed Woodward needs to look at himself. He’s got to get deals done. I think he should have been given more time. I was happy with David Moyes. I think Van Gaal is a good choice. Only time will tell. He’s managed big clubs.”

Keane concluded by claiming that Manchester at least needs five or six quality signings this summer. “You’re on about players who have not performed – [Antonio] Valencia, [Ashley] Young, Nani, Carrick. You shouldn’t be afraid of rebuilding.”