It felt as if Manchester United had hit rock bottom following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure, with the ‘vibes’ the Norwegian boss had fostered all but gone.
A number of ex-players and pundits said the United squad didn’t care and ‘threw Solskjaer under the bus’, claims similar to those made shortly after the respective stints of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho as the United boss came to an abrupt end.
Jamie Carragher was more vocal than most, with the former Liverpool defender telling Sky Sports after United’s 4-1 loss to Watford: “I haven’t been a manager but if you have a crop of these players – and I don’t care what anybody tells me, Manchester United have quality players – you can’t lose to Watford 4-1.
“You can’t, no matter how the manager sets you up, if he’s in the dressing room whether the players respect him or not. However, he sets them up, those players and some of the performances that they’ve given away this season are an absolute disgrace.”
The mood only continued to deteriorate upon the appointment of Ralf Rangnick, with reports that players were already questioning his training methods just weeks after his arrival.
It’s easy to be fooled into thinking the players don’t care when so many reports of dressing room unrest are circulating.
However, that is obviously not the case, as United proved last season by saving victory from the jaws of defeat on several occasions.
Saturday’s clash with West Ham threatened to heighten frustration around United, with the home side struggling to break the deadlock despite being in control of the game. However, frustration turned to jubilation in the 93rd minute when Edinson Cavani’s ball through the box was tapped home by Marcus Rashford.
The celebrations that followed were absolutely incredible. Cavani slid to the Stretford End followed by Rashford and the rest of the squad. Scott McTominay fell trying to jump on the back of Alex Telles, but the most telling of all the celebrations came from a player who wasn’t even on the pitch.
After being substituted for Cavani in the 82nd minute, Fred was curled up in his United coat on the bench when the goal went in, but as soon as the celebrations kicked off he was sprinting down the touchline like a young Mourinho.
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The Brazilian finally appears to be finding his feet under Rangnick, having scored one goal and registered three assists since the German’s appointment, and his reaction to United’s goal on Saturday proves the players don’t care theory is a absolute nonsense.
That 93rd-minute winner was undoubtedly a highlight of what has been a long and difficult season and hopefully we’ll get back to that in the months to come as United’s campaign really got going.
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