Manchester United's players do not just need to win over Ralf Rangnick, they now have to win the fans over too
There were times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer where everything seemed to be coming together. It didn’t, it crashed and burned, but there is little doubting the togetherness which was felt at the peaks of Solskjaer’s reign.
Solskjaer managed to foster a spirit of togetherness within the squad, prior to this season at least, and the connection with matchgoing supporters was strong, and fans still chant his name. What Solskjaer brought to the club was a vision, and while he was not able to realise it, for a while it seemed like everybody was pulling in the right direction.
Under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, it’s unclear quite where United stand now, and it would be difficult for any interim boss in these circumstances, following a club legend. Rangnick has given us an idea of how he wants to play, although United’s players seem unable to implement it very well so far.
What we have been left with is a disconnect, with the players not yet buying into Rangnick’s methods, and supporters’ devotion to this group of players feeling shredded. United fans will always back the team, to the end, but it’s fair to say the love for this squad has plummeted over the past month.
Questions for United’s players
Do you care about this club? Do you want to be here? Can you do the basics right? Can you perform without throwing a strop?
Many of United’s squad players were left frustrated under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and under Ralf Rangnick, not too much has changed, with the exception of Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles, who are featuring more regularly.
But what United fans have to put up with at present is continuous stories in the media claiming half the squad wants to leave, and is unhappy with the club’s situation. Guess what, supporters are unhappy too, and we don’t get up and leave.
Many of these media stories may be exaggerated, but Luke Shaw green-lighted open season for the press with his post-match interview after the Wolves defeat, claiming the players were not ‘together’ on the pitch.
And then there were leaks via The Athletic that United’s players were not happy with the early impressions made by new assistant coach Chris Armas. Even if these doubt were valid, leaking them to the press is highly unprofessional and smacks of arrogance from the players, who also raised similar leaked doubts over Kieran McKenna.
Context needs to be applied here too. Was Ralf Rangnick going to be able to hire the very best coaching staff in Europe for a six month job? Of course not.
The players are coming across like spoiled brats who cannot take responsibility for their own actions.
This does not necessarily apply to Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been blamed by some for the dysfunction at the club, fairly or not. Ronaldo’s frustration comes because United’s players are not on his level and do not have the same winning mentality. Failure has gone on at United without consequence for too long.
How many more coaches can we go through? If these players are not whipped into shape and dealt with by Rangnick now, then this same cycle will repeat itself with the next permanent manager at the first sign of struggle.
Time for improvement
United fans can’t stomach the thought of another rebuild, but that might be what it takes. But rather than focus on the long-term, we need short-term gains.
These players need to show a togetherness, on the pitch, and indicate they are buying into Ralf Rangnick’s methods. The German has a large squad, and he should drop the big names if they cannot buy in.
United need to get the support onside, because Old Trafford could become toxic if the current trajectory continues between now and the end of the season.
We want to see players giving their all, fighting for each other and for the badge. If this means discarding the first teamers and bringing through the academy lads, so be it.
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