Gary Neville and Roy Keane have lambasted the Manchester United dressing room for their issues with time-keeping.
Nemanja Matic gave a refreshingly candid interview recently, in which he derided his former team-mates at Old Trafford for their abject lack of professionalism.
The former Premier League midfielder, now currently at Rennes, pointed to the contrast between his United team-mates and his former Chelsea ones as evidence for his accusations.
Matic revealed that no players would show up to training late at Chelsea, yet this was a consistent problem at United. Two players were singled out as repeat offenders – Paul Pogba and, to the surprise of no one, Jadon Sancho.
Matic grew so aggrieved with this issue that he, along with other senior players, formed a five-man disciplinary committee, to punish the constant displays of unprofessionalism with fines.
The 35-year old revealed the problem persisted to such an extent that a total of £75,000 was racked up in fines.
In response to these revelations, Neville and Keane bordered on apoplectic rage.
Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast on YouTube, Neville described feeling “absolutely devastated” at the one time he was late to training in his United career.
“I remember being late once when I was coming into Carrington, once in 20 years. I got stuck in horrendous traffic; I was never late. I was ringing up, I was frantic, I was absolutely devastated,” Neville revealed.
The former United right-back asserts being late is the “most disrespectful thing you can do” in a football dressing room. This view is echoed by Keane.
“This idea with lads being constantly late for training [at Manchester United] shouldn’t happen. A player can be late for training, it can happen – it can be stuck in traffic, or your car breaks down – but if that’s a regular occurrence, then that’s not good.
“A decent dressing room wouldn’t tolerate players being late – if it was the norm then a group would get hold of him,” Keane stated.
The former United captain’s view that the tolerance of the lateness is as much a problem as the lateness itself is an interesting, and salient, one.
There appears to have been both a drop in standards, as well as a depressing acceptance of them, at Old Trafford over the past decade; a rot which has enveloped a once iron-clad dressing room.
It’s little wonder why Erik ten Hag has made constant references to attitude, professionalism and work-ethic in his interviews. If £75,000 worth of fines won’t enact meaningful change, what will?