By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Roy Keane has criticised Manchester United supporters for jeering under-fire manager Louis van Gaal.

Sections of supporters turned on the Dutchman following the 1-0 home defeat to Southampton two weeks ago.

Former United skipper Keane recognised that Van Gaal was the subject of the fans’ ire but urged them to get behind the team, including the manager.

Keane said: “I just can’t understand the supporter, a proper supporter, and I do understand frustration when your team isn’t doing well, but to boo a manager or the team… why?”

The former Republic of Ireland international accepts United are enduring a rocky period but points out that it has been worse before and that it is the responsibility of the players to pull them out of the doldrums.

“Man United have had worse times than this time – they were relegated before,” said Keane at a charity function in Ireland. “They have had great times but you can’t keep looking back.

“They are having a difficult spell. I don’t know Louis van Gaal, I’ve never worked with him. They are struggling at the moment but any club in their history will have difficult spells.

“I know the manager is getting a lot of criticism at the moment but sometimes the players have to take control of the situation.

Louis van Gaal's position at Manchester United is under growing threat

Dark days: Van Gaal’s position is under growing threat at United

“I always think if you can pass it forward quickly then do it. Possession is well and good but it’s all about putting the ball in the back of the net.

“I see a lot of midfielders at Manchester United obsessed with possession and retaining the ball, but if you can do things quickly, do it.”

In the latest Manchester United news, the club are increasingly confident of appointing Jose Mourinho as their next manager after opening preliminary talks on a deal.