Ruud van Nistelrooy has defended Roy Keane over the United captain’s recent criticism of his teammates.

Keane gave an interview to the club’s television channel MUTV in which he was critical of several members of the United team. The interview was shown yesterday to the United first team squad in the presence of Keane and manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Van Nistelrooy said: “It’s good to have people who say what they feel because they care about the club.

“We are all still together and this just pulls us together even more.”

Keane’s interview followed the 4-1 loss at Middlesbrough reportedly called for a clear-out of players he deemed not good enough to represent the club.

United have since lost to Lille in the Champions League, but Van Nistelrooy said Keane’s remarks could galvanise the team.

“You cannot do anything about the things which are said and written,” added Van Nistelrooy.

“When you get criticised, you can get angry but you can also think about it, hold it before yourself, look at it and see if it is true.

“It is always important we keep doing that. You have to take something good out of any criticism – and that will only help us.

“When I came to Manchester United, we were unbeatable,” said Van Nistelrooy.

“I remember games when I had four or five opportunities, constant service and we attacked. It was great and I enjoyed it.

“We all want those days to come back. The question is how do we do it.

“We need to look at the squad; look at everything. Each of us knows within themselves what is going to happen.

“Without doubt, this is the most difficult time I have had since I came to United. But I am not going anywhere.

“I am committed to this club and now, in the bad times, I just want to give it my all. Over the coming years, it is personal to me to get United back to where I, and everyone associated with the club, wants to see them.”