| 15.2°C Dublin

red rage Lack of graft leaves team of Man United individuals adrift and unlikely to make top four

It was a building block of Alex Ferguson's great United teams - that no matter how good a player you were, you had to graft for the team.

Close

Will Ralf Rangnick bite the bullet and try to sell off skipper Harry Maguire. who has been badly exposed?

Will Ralf Rangnick bite the bullet and try to sell off skipper Harry Maguire. who has been badly exposed?

Will Ralf Rangnick bite the bullet and try to sell off skipper Harry Maguire. who has been badly exposed?

Manchester United have spent over a billion euro on players in the last decade.

For their money the club has got a collection of great players, but not a team.

And it may well be that whoever comes in as permanent manager at Old Trafford in the summer will have to start a complete rebuild of the playing staff.

For Manchester United are not at the races these days. Compare the efforts of players wearing Liverpool Red or Manchester City Sky Blue during matches.

When their team does not have the ball, they hustle, harry, work and battle to get the ball back.

There's no sign of anything like that from the current Manchester United crew.

More and more, it is becoming evident that Cristiano Ronaldo was a luxury signing last August that United could not afford.

We all know what the great man gives you, glorious goalscoring and so many memorable moments. You know he is not going to track back, or do too much tackling, so you build your team elsewhere to cover that.

Unfortunately, United already had Paul Pogba who was cut from the same cloth.

It was so obvious yesterday against Southampton, that the other players in United Red could not cover for these two.

Not with Bruno Fernandes running around the pitch in all sorts of different areas.

Fernandes was certainly covering the ground, but what help was he contributing to the overal effort, if his team-mates did not know where he would be?

It was a building block of Alex Ferguson's great United teams - that no matter how good a player you were, you had to graft for the team.

No one was excused. Now players are being excused as United limp from one poor performance to another.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Dropping four Premier League points this week means their place in next season's Champions League is looking decidedly dodgy.

If any of Arsenal, Spurs or Wolves can put together a run of , say, four wins and two draws, from their next six matches, then it could be curtains for United.

Indeed even Brighton will be in the mix, if they can beat United on Tuesday. And they will be licking their lips when watching the DVD of this game.

United still have serious problems at the back, where Harry Maguire's lack of pace is being exposed on a weekly basis.

Will the new manager bite the bullet and attempt to move an £80million signing out of the club?

Because titles and trophies start at the back, with a solid defence, and no one will convince me United have that right now.

If it wasn't for the fact that goalkeeper David de Gea has recovered from an early season dose of 'the wobbles' to find some fabulous form, United's season would already be over.

Still you cannot see them getting the better of

Southampton were everything United weren't. Well-organised, playing to instructions, working hard for each other and doing it all with no little skill as well.

And it may well be that whoever comes in as permanent manager at Old Trafford in the summer will have to start a complete rebuild of the playing staff.

For Manchester United are not at the races these days. Compare the efforts of players wearing Liverpool Red or Manchester City Sky Blue during matches.

When their team does not have the ball, they hustle, harry, work and battle to get the ball back.

There's no sign of anything like that from the current Manchester United crew.

More and more, it is becoming evident that Cristiano Ronaldo was a luxury signing last August that United could not afford.

We all know what the great man gives you, glorious goalscoring and so many memorable moments. You know he is not going to track back, or do too much tackling, so you build your team elsewhere to cover that.

Unfortunately, United already had Paul Pogba (below) who was cut from the same cloth.

It was so obvious yesterday against Southampton, that the other players in United Red could not cover for these two.

Not with Bruno Fernandes running around the pitch in all sorts of different areas.

Fernandes was certainly covering the ground, but what help was he contributing to the overall effort, if his team-mates did not know where he would be?

It was a building block of Alex Ferguson's great United teams: that no matter how good a player you were, you had to graft for the team.

No one was excused. Now players are being excused as United limp from one poor performance to another.

And good defence starts with the centre-forward doing his bit, then it is the midfielders working hard and finally the defenders themselves come into play.

But it is all about being a unit, and it was clear that Manchester United are a collection of individuals right now, not a coherent team playing to a plan.

No wonder Paul Scholes had a right go at the team on TV after the match. Paul was one of those talented players who was not excused a lot of hard work during his playing days.

Close

'Yet what Alex Ferguson built was not a dynasty but a dictatorship – and he had little interest in grooming a successor'. Photo: PA Wire

'Yet what Alex Ferguson built was not a dynasty but a dictatorship – and he had little interest in grooming a successor'. Photo: PA Wire

'Yet what Alex Ferguson built was not a dynasty but a dictatorship – and he had little interest in grooming a successor'. Photo: PA Wire

Sometimes his tackle technique was not the best, but he still made the effort, Fergie would not have had it any other way.

If this Scholes' criticism does not fire a bit of life into the United players, I don't know what will.

There's another issue now. I was never a fan of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United manager. Right from the start of Ole's reign, I doubted that he had the necessary experience to make a go of the job.

But it is clear now that it was not all about Ole. That the players weren't putting it in for him, or not able to put it in.

Well now there's nothing much happening with Ralf Rangnick in charge, as United let lead after lead slip away.

Dropping four Premier League points this week means their place in next season's Champions League is looking decidedly dodgy.

If any of Arsenal, Spurs or Wolves can put together a run of, say, four wins and two draws, from their next six matches, then it could be curtains for United and Europe.

Indeed even Brighton will be in the mix, if they can beat United on Tuesday.

And they will be licking their lips when watching the DVD of this game.

United still have serious problems at the back, where Harry Maguire's lack of pace is being exposed on a weekly basis.

Will the new manager bite the bullet and attempt to move an £80million signing out of the club?

Because titles and trophies start at the back, with a solid defence, and no one will convince me United have that right now.

If it wasn't for the fact that goalkeeper David de Gea has recovered from an early season dose of 'the wobbles' to find some fabulous form, United's season would already be over.

Still you cannot see them getting the better of Spanish champions Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League when the teams meet in Madrid in ten days time.

Atletico are a serious outfit, everything United are not right now.

And Southampton were everything United weren't too.

Well-organised, playing to instructions, working hard for each other and doing it all with no little skill as well.

And without big-name players on huge wages either.

Ralf Hasenhuttl is quietly doing a good job as Southampton boss and it showed here in a fine effort by his players, who adopted to everything United sought to try and do to turn the tide in their favour.

It was good coaching put into effect by a team that believed in what they were hearing. By contrast Manchester United are now all about drift and doubt. And there's no sign of things turning around anytime soon.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy