Manchester United had a bad ending to an equally poor season as their cross-town rivals Manchester City celebrated yet another league title on the final day of the season. As United crumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, the new man coming to manage the team, Erik Ten Hag, watched from the stands and should be aware of the work ahead.
In the post-match reactions after the loss at Selhurst Park, goalkeeper David De Gea said players who do not feel like they can fight for the team should go. It isn’t the first time De Gea is taking a dig at teammates, and it adds to the reports of growing disunity in the dressing room. For his success, the new manager must deal with such issues.
A busy summer awaits United, with several players set to leave as the club restructures. Four preseason matches are already confirmed, but you feel United will not be fully ready for these, looking at the amount of work ahead. They are scheduled to face Liverpool, Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace, and Aston Villa.
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The disunity at United goes beyond the boardroom. The players have had such a big disconnect with fans, which is another factor that will need mending. Out of frustration after a previous defeat, Cristiano Ronaldo smashed a fan’s phone as he walked off the pitch. On the final day, Edison Cavani had an obscene gesture directed at a fan after the loss to Palace and called for fan protests that have been a common add to the parties’ frosty relations.
While there’s a general agreement that the club needs to offload as part of the restructure, there will be a need for patience as United looks to do away with a wage bill of about £80m a year but still get quality replacements. This will take time.
Paul Pogba, Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, and Juan Mata are among the senior players set to leave, alongside interim manager Ralf Rangnick. As that era ends, the overriding feeling is that even with qualification for the Europa League, it was a favor from Brighton, beating West Ham rather than United’s initiative.
Rangnick will not be far away; he is set to juggle an advisory role at United and manage the Austria national team. For the new manager, this could be key in transitioning into the team, but again it may be looked at because Rangnick didn’t have a perfect relationship with top players, most of whom didn’t give their all for him and, by extension the team.
The most significant benefit Rangnick has instilled in the team is addressing issues affecting them openly. Though players will fume at this, it offers Ten Hag a good starting point in stamping authority at the club.