Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has told his “angry” team-mates there is “something wrong” if they are not motivated to fight their way out of the club’s latest malaise.
With the murmurs of discontent growing in an unhappy United camp, the 28-year-old has called on the side to fight their way through the latest slump.
The former Leicester City man revealed he has held discussions with players and interim boss Ralf Rangnick following yet another significant drop off in form.
The Reds face Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa in the FA Cup third-round at Old Trafford tomorrow night, in a competition which presents our best chance of lifting silverware.
In a revealing interview with the Telegraph following United’s recent demise in form, Maguire said: “I know a lot was written about Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams and the way he used that to spur his players on. He obviously did that brilliantly.
“I’ve seen a lot of the criticism and a lot of it is absolutely correct. But for me, with this team, it shouldn’t need criticism to motivate players.
“If players of this quality are not motivated to play for this club when they pull on the shirt, then there is something wrong.
“We are all angry and want to do our best, which has probably come across on the pitch at times. But the team spirit is good despite what people say. Being a professional footballer you have to take criticism on the chin and react well to it.
“We’ve got a big squad. Of course not all players will always be happy as they are not playing but that is football and we all have to remain professional.”
Aside from an impressive pressing performance in his first match in charge against Crystal Palace, Rangnick has struggled to get a tune out of his players.
Our performances have regressed and there has been an alarming lack of intensity in every match which has brough question marks about the players’ commitment and body language.
Although the Covid-19 outbreak at the club which led to the games against Brentford and Brighton wouldn’t have helped matters, Maguire is not using the closure of the Carrington training base as an excuse.
“We can’t use Covid as an excuse, we are in a privileged position. A lot of people are far far worse off than us and we’ve got a duty to support them where we can, like the NHS. So we’ve got to get our heads down and do better, no matter what is thrown our way. Other clubs have the same problems as us.”
“Sometimes it can be good to have an ‘us against the world’ mentality,” said Maguire.
“For sure. It’s always been like that for United players and we have to deal with it. The most important thing for us is the fans, we are letting them down.
“This team finished second last year and we have a better and bigger squad this year so we have to show the right attitude. We have big players in the team, leaders. I’m sick of repeating myself but it can’t continue like this, we need to go on a proper run starting on Monday.
“A lot of it (criticism) is justified and we all have to take massive responsibility, myself as captain as much as anyone, if not more. I’m the captain and leader in the dressing room, I’ve had private conversations with the players and the management which will remain private.
“Make no mistake I’m here for the fight and I know my team-mates are. I expect them to be and if they are not then there is something wrong.”
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