Manchester United players reportedly believe they know the identity of a ‘poisonous’ team-mate who has been targeting Harry Maguire this season.
Maguire has faced severe criticism for his performances this season, amid what has been a dreadful campaign for the Red Devils. The England international has featured heavily under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his successor Ralf Rangnick throughout the year.
That is despite the centre-back enduring a challenging personal campaign and with United possessing the worst defensive record in the top eight of the Premier League. It has also appeared that even Maguire’s team-mates had been questioning his continued selection.
According to a report from The Times back at the start of March, Maguire’s place in Rangnick’s line-up had been ‘privately questioned’ by some in the United squad.
The Englishman’s form had also ‘not impressed’ his team-mates, with some believing he ‘had not met’ the club’s standards.
Maguire would go on to start the next game after that report was published, though United were hammered by rivals Manchester City. And according to the Daily Mail, the effect of that leak was ‘poisonous’ to the United dressing room.
The Red Devils are preparing for Rangnick’s final game in charge, a trip to Crystal Palace, with Erik ten Hag ready to take over. But the ‘thinly veiled attack’ on Maguire has not been forgotten by many at Old Trafford.
So much so, that it is stated that ‘most players’ now believe they know the identity of the person behind the report. The attack on Maguire only added to a ‘level of distrust’ among the United dressing room.
It is stated that Ten Hag will find it ‘hard to rebuild’ relations between those squad members, with senior management also said to be ‘unhappy’ with the player many believe to be behind the criticism of Maguire. Rather ironically, that player is described as ‘not being exempt’ from blame for his own performances this term.
Ten Hag has a sizeable job on his hands to repair what is an increasingly fractured dressing room at Old Trafford. Some in the club’s hierachy are said to believe that the players have ‘expolited’ a ‘power vacuum’ that was created when it was decieded to postpone appointing a permanent boss until the summer in the wake of Solskjaer’s sacking.
Rangnick has attempted to fix the ill-feeling that exists between players, meeting with senior squad members throughout the game. But while ‘sensible suggestions’ were forthcoming, all too frequently those players held widely opposing views which proved too difficult to reconcile.
Ten Hag may do well to keep in mind the thoughts of the departing Juan Mata when he does finally take charge. Mata, who will leave United after the clash with Palace had blasted the culture that exists in the club’s dressing room.
“We need a reset in the culture of the club. The standards, what it means to represent this club to any player, what entitles you to play for Manchester United, what is expected on the pitch and off,” he told The Athletic on Saturday.
“Many things need to be clear — this is Manchester United and anyone who doesn’t meet those standards is not up to the task and should not be here. That’s as clear as I can be. Certain standards were not met. Whether that’s attitude, training, off the pitch, which doesn’t include players, we haven’t been good enough.”