Expectations were high when Ralf Rangnick, dubbed the ‘professor of Gegenpressen’, was named as the temporary successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked in November following a disastrous run of results.
A top-four finish was viewed as a realistic proposition at the time, despite optimism that United were going to challenge for the title just months prior.
It never quite clicked for Rangnick at United and instead, leaks increased with each passing week and the mood at Carrington has been described as downbeat.
The 63-year-old has now revealed that not being able to forge a stronger team spirit is one of his biggest disappointments since taking the job six months ago, highlighting the loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League as a clear line in the sand.
“Since Atletico we just didn’t find our shape or form again,” Rangnick said in his pre-match press conference, according to The Metro.
“Before then we had stabilised the team, become more stable defensively. But then we lost confidence and energy. It has got to do with confidence, team spirit and togetherness. This is my biggest disappointment that we didn’t establish that team spirit.
“I still strongly believe that there is a core of players here who are top, good enough to play for this club.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the players were withdrawing this season, having displayed brilliant camaraderie last year under Solskjaer. The Norwegian boss was the subject of strong criticism for his side’s displays but his ability to manage the squad was undeniable.
In fairness to Rangnick, the team was dysfunctional long before he made the switch from Moscow to Manchester and not all of the blame is fair to put on him.
Regardless, Erik ten Hag will take over as soon as next week and he has quite the job on his hands. Earlier this week, it was reported that up to ten players are expected to be shown the door by the Dutchman.
Ajax defender Jurrien Timber has been heavily linked with following Ten Hag to United whilst Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong is also of interest.