Ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has lamented the current squad’s discipline, citing it as a reason the club isn’t on either Liverpool or Manchester City’s level. United are enduring a frustrating run of games in which mistake-riddled second-half performances have ruled out positive first-half displays.
The Red Devils have recorded one of the largest transfer window expenditures in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 retirement.
However, Old Trafford hasn’t witnessed a single title raised in those nine years, and even Champions League qualification hasn’t always been guaranteed.
In the same period, Man City have dominated domestic football whilst Liverpool were crowned European champions and won the top-flight title for the first time since 1990.
And United’s latest slump under their seventh manager since Ferguson, interims included, Ralf Rangnick is down to crucial yet simple elements, according to Ferdinand.
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The former defender has credited the lack of ‘balls’ among Rangnick’s players during crucial moments of pressure as a notable source of recent failures.
He told Vibe with FIVE: “In the first 20 to 30 minutes, you go, ‘oh – I like this’. There’s fluidity, there’s continuity within the team, there’s a togetherness, but the problem is weathering the bad storms.
“In every game, you get a five-minute spell or whatever it is, where the other team get hold of the game, and you get penned back a little bit whether you like it or not.
“It’s about having the balls to be able to get through that, the know-how, and I think a big part of that is discipline – I think that’s where we [United] lack compared to top teams.
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“When those moments come, you need a discipline within the team, to say ‘we stick together’ in them situations.
“They end up becoming individuals more than ever and thinking, ‘I can do this on my own; I’ve got to create a moment of craziness’.
“Individual mistakes or bad decision-making on individual parts is what’s killing the team right now.
“Whether it’s missing a chance, final ball delivery or defending a situation. Individuals are making mistakes in those areas.”
United are without a win in three games, despite facing favourable opposition in Middlesbrough and Southampton at home and Burnley away.
Performance levels have improved under Rangnick, but the club has won just six of his 13 games in charge, with the most challenging tests on paper being West Ham United and Wolves at Old Trafford.
And unless the issues Ferdinand pinpointed are solved, United may have to kiss a top-four finish goodbye during a miserable final few months of the campaign.
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