Manchester United’s poor performance against Newcastle was not one which any supporter will be rushing to re-watch.
After a wait of 16 days between games, United underwhelmed upon returning to action.
Manager Ralf Rangick was asked if the delay worked against United, and he said he did not want to hear such excuses.
Rangnick told the club website: “It’s also a question of rhythm, but we shouldn’t look for excuses [about the break in games because of COVID] – we need to get better and get more physical and more precise when we’re in possession of the ball.
“I was not happy with our performance with the ball or when we had to press and counter-press. It’s about sprinting, about energy and what kind of energy mode do we play with the ball and against the ball.”
Harry Maguire delivers excuses in abundance
You might expect manager and captain to be on the same page. However, this was not the case with Harry Maguire’s post-match interview.
Maguire contradicted himself and Rangnick in an interview with the club website delving into the excuses for United’s abysmal performance in the 1-1 draw, while also insisting there were ‘no excuses’, in a bizarre interview.
The club captain said: “The training ground has been shut, and half the lads playing today are recovering from the virus so of course it’s not going to help us. We’ve had people with symptoms, people without symptoms, it’s been a real mixed bag for everyone at the football club and it’s been a tough time.
“But you can’t make excuses for sloppy passes and the opportunities that we had, especially in the first half.”
Moaners and whingers
Maguire’s miserly comments are not a great look, even if they do represent the reality of the situation. As Ralf Rangnick points out, United simply need to do the basics better.
Part of this comes down to mentality, and this was seized upon by pundit and former United star Gary Neville in his comments to Sky Sports, in which he criticised the approach of some of the United players.
Neville blasted: “They’re whinging at each other! They’re a bunch of whingebags! A bunch of whingebags! Watch them on that pitch, honestly, arms in the air, complaining about everything! Honestly, they’re absolutely shocking out there in that first half. They got the last manager the sack! Ralf Rangnick is not going to get the sack, he’s only had a few weeks with them, but honestly, they’ll get a lot of managers the sack, that lot, if they carry on like that.”
The biggest part of addressing the concerns raised by Neville is improving individual and collective responsibility, which requires an improved mentality.
Maguire moaning about Covid and postponements speaks of a weak mentality, emblematic of United’s problems. Rangnick is trying to bring changes to United, and this means a culture change is needed too.
The players need to work harder and be more precise with their play. If they can’t do that, then more drab performances like last night’s will follow.
Whether Maguire should be captain or not is an ongoing debate among United fans. He did himself few favours with his performance against Newcastle or his weak post-game comments.
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