The picture that sums up everything that is wrong with Manchester United under Ralf Rangnick

Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Southampton summed up Ralf Rangnick’s team’s current situation.

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Fans who have been watching United for years are well aware that the problem extends far beyond any manager.


This particular set of players does not appear to be capable of doing the basic minimum by winning trophies for the club. Too many members of the current team hide and refuse to accept responsibility, revealing themselves to be what they are: a collection of personalities.


They operate in patches and lack the kind of structure Rangnick has sought to build, rather than following a collective goal and having a defined identity. Southampton exemplified everything United aspires to be at Old Trafford.


And the image above effectively summarized things.


It shows United preparing for an offensive free-kick in the second half as runners enter the area, and as we can see, every single player in a red shirt is in an offside position when the ball is kicked, while Southampton coach Ralph Hassenhuttl has set up his team to play with a high line. The Saints executed the offside trap flawlessly.


However, the symmetry was telling. While United’s desperation for a merited victory was palpable, Southampton’s calm and serene demeanor throughout the game was evident as they confidently defended the set-piece.


Cristiano Ronaldo scored on a flick-on but looked regretful as he walked away and barely celebrated as an offside flag was raised correctly. It was a suitable metaphor for another gloomy afternoon at Old Trafford.


On Saturday, Jadon Sancho’s goal was canceled out by a magnificent Che Adams equalizer at Old Trafford, with the Old Trafford supporters becoming accustomed to the same blunders that keep repeating themselves.


Under Rangnick, United has demonstrated a tendency to play well for the first 45 minutes before struggling to maintain the same level of effort in the second half. It’s a strange time for fans who haven’t seen their team sink as low as they are today.


The last time things seemed this awful at the club was during Jose Mourinho’s final few months in charge in 2018. The climate at Carrington was toxic, players were failing to deliver for the manager, and United continued to lose points. There are very few parallels.


You could even say that Rangnick’s present issues are reminiscent of those that dogged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s interim tenure. Huddersfield Town drew 1-1. Everton was defeated 4-0. These were just a few of the games that convinced fans that a significant overhaul was required at Old Trafford, and as each game passes this season, the same ideas arise.


Rangnick isn’t the issue; it’s the players, and the image of five players lined up in an offside position from a fairly simple free-kick routine says it all. All of them contributed to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal. It wasn’t always regarded that way, though, because the manager is always held accountable, and there were still significant doubts about the Norwegian’s elite-level skills as a coach.


But, with the team’s persistent inability to carry out their stand-in manager’s strategy, there’s no place for them to hide. Every United fan can understand where the problems are, and if there is sympathy, it is with Rangnick as the players continue to struggle.


It’s tough to see how things can get much better from here. Players want to leave the club, there is a lack of communication among all staff members, Old Trafford is still in need of redevelopment, and supporters are more vocal about their dissatisfaction. The discussion about United’s problems is complicated, and it does not end with the players, but they have remained consistent across two management regimes that have both failed to deliver on what United fans want.


Paul Scholes’ comments about Ralph Hasenhuttl being a manager and United being a sporting director were instructive, but the focus of his and the fans’ ire should be directed equally at the players and the manager.


Southampton and their manager appeared to have a plan. United, however, did not. A picture may express a thousand words.

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