The public spat between Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick and forward Jesse Lingard has deteriorated further over the last 48 hours and threatens to cause a dressing room revolt, according to reports.
After a publicly aired disagreement between the manager and Anthony Martial, who subsequently left for Sevilla on loan, Lingard also asked to leave United in the January transfer window.
The player wanted to boost his chances of playing for England in the World Cup and had been frustrated by the little game time he has been given at Old Trafford.
Rangnick agreed to the move but ultimately the club blocked it, which the boss admitted was partly due to the loss of Mason Greenwood from the squad and partly due to the fact that no bids came in that met the board’s demands.
The manager then said at the pre-match press conference ahead of the Middlesbrough FA Cup tie that Lingard had asked for time off this weekend to ‘clear his mind.’
Lingard seemed to take exception to this, taking to social media to protest ‘the club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons! But my headspace is clear and I’ll always be professional when called upon and give 100 percent.’
The club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons! But my headspace is clear and I’ll always be professional when called upon and give 100 percent
— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) February 3, 2022
But the manager hit back when asked after the game about the player’s response, saying ‘we were one outfield player less on the teamsheet, so why would I have allowed him to have four or five days off? I would have loved to have had him in the squad.’
Rangnick: 'We were one outfield player less on the teamsheet, so why would I have allowed him (Lingard) to have four or five days off, I would have loved to have had him in the squad.' Says Cavani was never going to make the squad. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) February 4, 2022
And according to The Mirror, some members of the squad are incensed about Rangnick’s public airing of the matter.
‘Rangnick is facing a player revolt,’ the outlet claims. ‘It hasn’t gone down well in the Old Trafford dressing room.’
‘Some senior United players believe such problems should be addressed in-house. They can’t understand why Rangnick has chosen to go public with sensitive team issues.
‘An insider said: “It isn’t the United way to voice these issues in the media. This is a time to stick together, not go public with things that might cause division.”
‘But Rangnick has been given the task of qualifying for the Champions League during his six-month spell as manager … and he feels he must be honest about the problems he is facing.’
As discussed in our previous article, Rangnick’s public naming and shaming of players who are asking for time off is a calculated risk that will, of course, not be welcomed by the players.
And whilst in some ways implementing a cultural overhaul is a mammoth task for an interim manager, what is perhaps to the manager’s advantage – and that of the club – is precisely the fact that he will be leaving the post in June.
If Rangnick had been given the job permanently the players could have focussed their efforts on getting him removed.
However, this is not an option for them in this case, so the biggest weapon in the player power arsenal is blunted.
‘Losing the dressing room’ and the team ‘not playing for the manager’ will only serve to hurt the players’ own cause going forward.
Whilst Rangnick was brought into the club to instil a tactical revolution and bring a maturity to what happens on the pitch, he is increasingly finding himself thrust into the role of hatchet man, weeding out indiscipline and inappropriate behaviour behind the scenes.