PAUL Scholes and Rio Ferdinand couldn’t understand the achievements of the club they had brought up, Manchester United. It looks like the 26 years of greatness that Alex Ferguson had built no longer have a trace. Five years of ‘Red Devils’ ended the competition without a single title to be won.
The 0-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last Wednesday marked the end of their journey this season. The hope of winning the title is closed and showing itself again as a club that deserves to be respected.
Manchester United is no longer a team that appears with new blood and is full of enthusiasm to win games. They even turned into an old club and seemed to have lost their grip on success.
Imagine in a state of having to catch up with his guest, Atletico Madrid, the ‘Red Devils’ actually included an old player. Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata were substitutes. Combined, they are 101 years old.
In fact, Alex Ferguson had become the ridicule of former Liverpool star, Alan Hansen, when playing young players, such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, and Scholes in 1992. However, Hansen finally withdrew his words when the young players were able to bring the ‘Red Devils’ ‘ became champions and even dominated the Premier League for almost two decades.
It is not wrong if Scholes and Ferdinand question the policies taken by management to build the ‘Red Devils’. It seems that a mistake was made so that they lost their enthusiasm and identity as a club that should be respected.
They even questioned the atmosphere in the dressing room. How the players lost cohesiveness and the desire to correct each other in order to build a solid team on the field.
The big names in the ‘Red Devils’ team almost mean nothing to the team. In fact, who does not know Cristiano Ronaldo. Even though he is getting old, he is still a Ronaldo who knows how to give victory to the team. The hat-trick he created against Tottenham Hotspur is proof of all that.
Cavani is one of Uruguay’s most prolific strikers. Likewise Paul Pogba, France’s hero at the 2018 World Cup and the star who once raised Juventus to the highest level.
After Fergie let go of his position as ‘boss’ at Manchester United, the names of big coaches have also been asked to deal with the ‘Red Devils’. Names like Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, are the best coaches in the world.
However, they were not able to restore the true spirit of Manchester United. In fact, in the hands of Ralf Rangnick right now, the ‘Red Devils’ reached its lowest point. They are easily, for example, played by neighbors, Manchester City, and are completely helpless.
Coach Josep Guardiola really embarrassed the ‘Red Devils’. He could command his team to pull Manchester United players into the Citizens defense without being able to cut a foot-to-foot pass even in front of goalkeeper Ederson.
After forcing the ‘Red Devils’ players to run like children chasing the ball, Kevin de Bruyne quickly moved the ball into the Manchester United defense area and made Harry Maguire and his friends a mess. If it weren’t for the greatness of goalkeeper David de Gea, there would have been more than four goals against the ‘Red Devils’.
Elementary mistakes made by Manchester United players really embarrassed the fans of the ‘Red Devils’. Harry Maguire, who captained the team, is no longer a defender who deserves respect like when he was still playing for Hull City or Leicester City. In fact, he often makes fatal mistakes that make it easy for his team’s goal to be conceded.
Right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka who was withdrawn from Crystal Palace in 2019, ditto-ditto. Manchester City bombarded attacks from the left wing. That’s why the ‘Red Devils’ defense sector is the easiest to penetrate.
It would not be wrong if Rangnick now benches Wan-Bissaka more often and replaces him with Portuguese right-back Diogo Dalot. At least Manchester United’s defense is no longer a defense that is easily crushed by opposing players.
Two weeks of competition break is the most appropriate moment for the ‘Red Devils’ to consolidate. Rangnick needs to quickly improve himself if he doesn’t want his team to be absent from the prestigious Champions League next season.
The rest of the matches that Manchester United has to play in the Premier League this season is not an easy match. They still have to meet the three teams that are now above them, namely Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
With the quality of the team as it is today, it is difficult for Manchester United to penetrate the top four in order to get a ticket to the Champions League next season. The game character ‘Red Devil’ that players must be able to return.
In the hands of Alex Ferguson, the character of the game ‘Red Devils’ is the ability to combine high technique, uncompromising play, and an attitude of never wanting to lose. Roy Keane is a symbol of Manchester United’s character who is never afraid and never gives up.
When ‘King’ Eric Cantona is present, high-class soccer technique is equipped. Cantona has always been able to change the game. Cantona’s feet and head have always been a threat to the opposing goalkeeper.
With Peter Schmeichel being the mainstay under the bar and twin towers such as Ferdinand, Jaap Stam, and Ronny Johnsen, the pillars of the ‘Red Devils’ are really strong. That’s what makes the young players become more confident and develop into stars not only for Manchester United, but also the England national team.
Rangnick did try to apply gegen-pressing, but it wasn’t followed by an uncompromising game. Two defensive midfielders Scott McTominay and Fred are not typical real breakers. Even if they try to play hard, they are often rewarded with cards because they are not accompanied by adequate playing techniques.
In front of players like Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho or Anthony Elanga, it’s too polite to play. Unlike Giggs or Beckham, who appear persistent, but smart in reading the game. Beckham became a big star because he had a vision of playing far so he was able to score goals from half the field against Wimbledon.
Manchester United have two options now. Will they return to the era of the early 1980s where they only became a mid-table club or like in the 1990s when they became King of England. Only Rangnick and the rest of the players could answer that.