Erik ten Hag is expected to conduct a mass reshuffle at Manchester United over the season in his bid to help the club regain its status as title contenders. However, before he can even begin considering transfers, he must overcome and improve the mentality of his squad.
United’s 4-0 loss to Liverpool on Tuesday night only highlighted how far the club has fallen since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. The result means that the Red Devils remained in sixth place in the Premier League and are three points behind North London outfits Arsenal and Tottenham, who are equally battling it out for that coveted fourth place.
With five games left of the season, there is still a lot to play for and a Champions League finish will certainly enable Ten Hag to attract top talent to Old Trafford over the summer. However, the current squad don’t share that view, which highlights the internal issue in the dressing room.
Speaking after the defeat on Tuesday, Fernandes came out and told Sky Sports: “Liverpool is fighting for the title, that is the difference. We are not fighting for nothing. We have to look at ourselves, from top to bottom and understand what is going wrong.” The Portugal international then contradicted himself with claims the team would fight until the end, but the damage was already done by that point.
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But he is not the only dispirited member of the team to come out and make an eyebrow-raising statement. Speaking ahead of the match against Arsenal this weekend, Jesse Lingard told MUTV: “We’ve got a big game coming up. We’ve got to regroup fast this week, it’s a big three points on Saturday. It’s another free hit and we’ll go there with the mindset of winning, staying on the front foot, being intense, doing the basics and having that energy to go and win the game.”
Labelling the match a ‘free hit’ certainly speaks volumes about the ambition of the players, especially considering a win over the Gunners would mean that the clubs are level on points. Although it is unlikely that the Red Devils will secure Champions League football for next season, there is still a slim chance that warrants more than a half-hearted attitude.