These are all ways Gary Neville described Manchester United’s performance following a humiliating defeat to one of their main rivals. But this wasn’t after Sunday’s derby day loss to Manchester City – it was nearly five months ago.
Sky Sports could have saved a lot of money over the weekend by simply replaying Neville’s post-match comments following Manchester United’s 5-0 loss to Liverpool at Old Trafford. Remove any mentions of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and nearly every word of his commentary that day in October sums up United’s capitulation at the Etihad.
“It’s been coming for five, six weeks,” Neville stated after the Liverpool defeat. “Manchester United’s performance levels have been consistent throughout the season.
“They’ve been torn to shreds whenever they’ve come up against a good team, and it’s informed them precisely where they stand. This is the worst it gets. It’s in the nature of the act. They have surrendered. Today they’ve lost everything – discipline, organization.”
It seems simple to blame the manager for the result that day — and the consecutive defeats that led to Solskjaer’s dismissal. Everyone could see that he was out of his depth and had been for some time. The result at the Etihad on Sunday revealed that it was not the only concern.
The appointment of Ralf Rangnick was thought to have calmed things down at Old Trafford, and it did to some extent. Even though performance had not improved, results had. But Sunday demonstrated unequivocally that United is woefully short of challenging City and Liverpool for the Premier League title, as many predicted at the start of the season.
As Neville points out, when they face a good team, there is only one possible consequence. That means they won’t be winning the Champions League this season and considering they still have to play Liverpool and Chelsea in the league, finishing fourth appears like a distant shot.
United are, of course, looking for a new permanent manager, but they should not believe that signing Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag will fix all of their difficulties. The fact that the same problems persist five months after that devastating defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s players demonstrates that the difficulties reach far deeper than just the man in the coach.
This is a side that is in desperate need of a makeover. In January, United had the opportunity to make additions and increase their prospects of finishing fourth or winning some trophy. They opted not to, and now they’re suffering the price.
Whoever is chosen permanently in the summer needs to be fully supported. Last season’s second-place result gave the sense that this was a team that was just one or two signings away from fighting for the title once more. The truth is that they require far more.
This season must serve as a long-awaited wake-up call for the manifold shortcomings of recent years. There will be no get out of jail free card for United this time; they will receive their just rewards for poor decision-making at all levels, and the summer will require a significant change in their strategy.