If I was a Manchester United player right now, I’d be busting a gut to impress manager Ralf Rangnick every time I went out on the pitch.
f you are a Red Devils supporter, you should not be happy to hear mumblings that the United players are unhappy with their interim
It doesn’t matter whether you like him or his tactics. You are playing for the Red shirt and the supporters in the ground – and personal pride ought to demand that you do your very best.
Sheer self-interest ought to demand that, too.
It’s unlikely that Rangnick will get the United job permanently next summer, but if he doesn’t, he has a two-year contract as a sporting director.
That means Ralf will be in the ear of the next United boss, telling him who he can and can’t trust in the dressing room.
Frankly, if I was a United player now, I would not be getting on the wrong side of this guy.
I never played under a six-month manager. I had stability for most of my time with Manchester United, Aston Villa and Ireland.
Alex Ferguson, Graham Taylor and Jack Charlton were the bosses I dealt with most in my career.
But the other managers I played for had permanency with club and country.
I never had a situation where you knew ‘this guy is outta here in three months’.
But it wouldn’t have mattered to me.
Personal and professional pride demanded that I delivered my best – and I hope I always did that for my managers.
Manchester United ended 2021 trailing Manchester City by 19 points at the summit of the table, albeit with two matches in hand.
For the talent they have in the squad, that is simply not good enough.
At least this season United are still in the Champions League, but there were easier draws in the Round of 16 than to get Atletico Madrid, led by the wily Diego Simeone.
But, so far, the season has been of the two steps forward, one step back variety.
And, until the day dawns when there is a sufficiently strong squad at Old Trafford to give Manchester City and Liverpool a good thumping, those two home defeats last October will sit as a stain on the recent history of Manchester United.
You have to hope that things will be better soon, starting with the first match of 2022, at home to Wolves tonight.
The likes of young attacking stars Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho must improve as footballers for training every morning with Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani in front of them.
Perhaps that’s one reason United persist with their policy of bringing in ageing strikers.
Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic went before the current pair.
And their presence at the club is something the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool would never do.
Yet, it is still not rocket science to me that United’s most pressing need is for a world-class defensive midfielder, by which I mean someone of N’Golo Kante’s class.
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That is the one position where United are operating at a level below those teams they are trying to beat at home and abroad.
I also presume that Rangnick has been given clearance by the club’s board to deal with the Paul Pogba situation as he sees fit.
If United want to get money for him, they have to sell the French star in January – he can leave for no transfer fee in the summer.
But Pogba is injured and the doctors say he is not due back to the first team until February.
Will anyone pay any serious fee for an injured player in January?
That’s doubtful, but Rangnick may use Pogba’s position to send a signal to the rest of the squad that those not committed to Manchester United can find themselves new pastures on which to graze.