EPL

'Like a broth of 100 ingredients' – Neville insists Rangnick not entirely to blame for Man Utd 'mess'

By Sports Desk February 14, 2022

Gary Neville has described Manchester United as being "like a broth of 100 ingredients" and insisted Ralf Rangnick is not solely to blame for his former club's issues.

United have squandered half-time leads to draw 1-1 with Burnley and Southampton in their past two top-flight matches, seeing them drop to fifth.

It marks only the second time in their Premier League history that United have failed to win back-to-back games in which they have led at the midway point.

United are winless in three in all competitions, meanwhile, having also been pegged back at 1-1 by Middlesbrough before losing on penalties in the FA Cup fourth-round tie.

The Red Devils strengthened ahead of this campaign by bringing in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Neville does not believe there is any real plan at Old Trafford.

"You put that many ingredients into a soup, you don't know which one in the end is making it taste bad," he told Sky Sports. "You lose your sanity over what's good and what's bad.

"I felt they were near last season [when they finished second] but now I feel they are as far away as they've ever been from winning the league.

"Maybe the right appointment in the summer and a little bit of a shuffle with someone who is calculated, ruthless and knows where the problem lies could change things again.

"Right now, I'm looking at a broth of 100 ingredients and don't know which of them I want to get rid of to make it taste better. It's a mess and United fans must take their medicine."

Rangnick, appointed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's successor on an interim basis until the end of the campaign in November, has naturally shouldered much of the blame of late.

United have averaged fewer goals per game under the German than they have under any other manager in Premier League history (1.4 – 14 goals in 10 games).

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes claimed on the back of Saturday's draw with Southampton that Rangnick is nothing more than a sporting director.

But amid rumours that United's players are pushing the club to appoint Mauricio Pochettino, Neville is not sure if a new man in the dugout will have the desired effect.

"It now gets to a point where you don't feel it's down to the manager anymore," said Neville, who won 17 major honours across his near two decades in United's first team.

"Ole was getting a lot of criticism at the start of the season and loses his job and it's now being suggested that Rangnick isn't good enough because he's a sporting director and he's not a coach.

"There's a confidence issue but there's also an issue of excuse mentality and of looking after themselves and not looking at the bigger picture, which is creating a brilliant team and trying to get back up that league."

Rangnick was forced to defend himself after the draw with Southampton, pointing out that United are not getting the results that their performances deserve.

United had 12 shots against Southampton to go with 22 attempts at Burnley and 30 over 120 minutes of the FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough, yet they failed to win each.

Since Rangnick's first game in charge on December 5, United have scored 17 goals in all competitions, but their expected goals (xG) figure is 23.3.

That differential of -6.3 is the third-biggest among all teams in Europe's top-five leagues in that time, behind only Lyon (-8) and Rayo Vallecano (-7.4).

By contrast, Premier League leaders Manchester City have scored 38 goals in the same timeframe from an xG of 29.9 – a positive differential of 8.11.

While an inability to put chances away is proving an issue, Neville believes United's issues run much deeper.

"You can't put your finger on one thing when you watch United nowadays," he said. "Every day feels like a soap opera. You hear the players want Pochettino, then Ronaldo's going to leave.

"The last few weeks have been terrible in terms of off-the-pitch incidents. On the pitch, I saw [Southampton manager] Ralph Hasenhuttl's quote after the game, which I think is the biggest criticism you can have levelled at you as a sportsperson or an athlete – that you don't work hard enough.

"I look at them on the pitch and there's definitely a number of them who are lacking in confidence. There's also a few of them who are not putting a shift in. The hard yards.

"That I can't forgive because as a United fan all that you can ask is that they give their all on the pitch. It looks lethargic and they don't look like they have the quality to chase games. Something has got to change there very quickly."

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