Manchester United’s ‘disaster’ of a dressing room finding problems at every turn

United once again failed to deliver as any faint hopes of a top-four finish effectively evaporated with defeat against Arsenal

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Monday 25 April 2022 13:39 BST
<p>Manchester United yet again failed to deliver against Arsenal </p>

Manchester United yet again failed to deliver against Arsenal

While Mikel Arteta was enthusiastically talking about the “belief” that such wins bring for Arsenal, Ralf Rangnick was left discussing the lack of it within the Manchester United dressing room.

The German had been asked whether it is difficult to keep motivating this squad, given the situation, given the season. As is Rangnick’s nature – and as the United hierarchy have found out in the last few weeks – he can’t help being blunt.

“Yes, quite obviously it’s hard to motivate and keep the energy level high. It was important to show some reaction today but there’s no substitute for success and it would have been very good for us and the level of confidence for the team.”

Instead, any enthusiasm that came from Erik ten Hag’s appointment quickly evaporated. United were actually behind within three minutes. They are now virtually certain to be out of next season’s Champions League, as Rangnick admitted.

“You look at the table, Tottenham and Arsenal, it’s not very realistic to dream and talk about top four.”

It should be yet another wake-up call for United, of course, in a season full of them.

While Arteta was left to talk about that huge 12 May showdown away to Tottenham Hotspur with a glint in his eye, the excitement of being involved in such an occasion, this United squad are left to drift.

And that’s a squad, it should be remembered, that is one of the most expensive ever assembled. What a waste.

It has all added up to a dysfunctional and disaffected group. Paul Scholes had seemed to drop Jesse Lingard in it by admitting on international television that the midfielder had told him the dressing room is a “disaster”.

Rangnick was asked about this and couldn’t even really bring himself to deny it. His response was, at best, qualified.

“I think the whole group get on reasonably with each other, I'm not daring to say they get on well with each other. I don't see there is an issue in regard to the locker room.”

There is certainly no issue in Arsenal’s dressing room right now. They are almost the anti-United in that regard. They have gone through the bloodletting process. While they do not have United’s expensive stars, or that ceiling of talent, it means they have a cohesive and united group. That does matter on occasions like today, and this run-in.

It could be seen in the celebration after Granit Xhaka’s thunderous winner. Everyone was so happy for him. A player that had looked like he could be drummed out of Arsenal had instead represented an example of how you can turn it around.

He could even serve as an inspiration for United players in that regard, because so many are facing up to uncertain futures. So many have to prove they should be kept on. Many others have no interest in staying on.

This is why Rangnick’s statement that they could sign up to 10 players were no idle words. The Independent has been told that Ten Hag told the United hierarchy they could do with almost an entire XI in terms of improving the level of the squad. Rangnick has backed this up, and he does not think all that many are up to the standard.

Some players are out regardless. Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani are all on free transfers, with no interest in new deals.

United themselves have been considering another free agent, in Antonio Rudiger. If so, they would be well behind Real Madrid in that race.

But that sums up something else. United have signed a £30m-plus centre back in four of the last five summers, and they’re still looking for another.

Little wonder it’s hard to believe whatever next is the solution.

There are problems at every turn. For Arsenal, having gone through the other side of all this, there is only a sense of progress.

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