Manchester United atmosphere ‘oppressive’ as Rangnick battles rifts
Interim Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick is reported to be battling serious tensions among players amid poor performances and a lack of improvement since the German took over.
Rangnick stepped into one of football management's biggest jobs in late November, but results and performances have not been noticeably better on his watch than in the reign of predecessor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
On Monday, the Red Devils fell to an embarrassing 1-0 loss at home to Wolves and started 2022 in the worst possible fashion, now languishing in seventh in the Premier League table.
According to The Sun, further trouble is brewing behind the scenes with various stars reportedly feeling that certain senior members of the squad have too much influence on the German's decisions, and it is believed that some are being favored over others for selection despite exhibiting poor form.
Elsewhere, the Daily Mail has cited a source as describing the atmosphere as "oppressive", with some senior players openly talking about it being the worst they have encountered.
The Sun spoke to a separate insider who said the fading English giants are a "shambles" with Rangnick's short-term tenure until a permanent replacement has been found for next season set to be a "disaster."
"The players have their own cliques, one of which is making the others feel like they need to step up a level when it is the whole team that’s struggling," the source said.
"The players are demoralized. This is deja vu of the previous years when things went wrong."
"The fans probably think the players are not fit enough to put Rangnick’s plans into action. That is so untrue. Certain players have just lost that knack and desire," it was further claimed.
"Plus, there is a belief within one section of the squad that some players get selected regardless of their displays. So everything is a complete shambles."
Furthermore, Rangnick is accused of being "aloof and overconfident" behind closed doors, with some of his men allegedly admitting that current Spurs boss Antonio Conte should have been installed ahead of him when the Italian tactician was unemployed.
PSG's Mauricio Pochettino is could take over next term, but until then Rangnick is failing to convince with tensions bubbling across the squad and European qualification at risk.
Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are all free to join other suitors soon, yet these and other big names will hardly wish to stick around if they cannot feature in the top continental competitions.
As yet, it is unknown who forms parts of the mentioned cliques. But following an unflattering 1-1 draw at Newcastle United where the team was outclassed by the relegation candidates, United legend and pundit Gary Neville slammed the body language of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes.
"They’re the two senior players in that dressing room," Neville said. "It’s devastating for the younger players if the two best players in the team are looking at the others as if they’re not good enough."
Elsewhere, Luke Shaw dug into his colleagues after the Wolves defeat and accused some parties of lacking motivation, commitment, and unity.
If there are rifts, Rangnick has five days to heal them before two meetings with Aston Villa. The first is in the Premier League, while the second takes place in the FA Cup third round where defeat could end United's only realistic chance of silverware this year.