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Manchester disunited? The only way to end rift rumours is to win matches consistently

Manchester United was 1-0 up against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup two weeks ago, with a few minutes left until the half-time whistle, when an announcement came over the Old Trafford public address system that there would be no food or refreshments on sale during the break.

 

It was later revealed that a power surge before the game had caused a failure at the tills – it’s not just on the pitch the club are having problems.

It has been a difficult season for United so far. They’ve had a managerial change, players have been unhappy and there have been public disagreements.

 

As it stands, they’re unconvincingly clinging on to the prestigious top-four spot which brings Champions League qualification.

After the Premier League win against Brighton on Tuesday, a result which saw United move fourth, the hope was that three precious points would reduce the tension at Old Trafford ahead of another run of important games, including a doubleheader against Atletico Madrid.

However, there have instead been more reports of dressing-room disputes.

The last couple of months have already seen Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard post their versions of events on social media after comments made by Ralf Rangnick to the press, and now Marcus Rashford has joined them.

The England international responded this week to claims of a divide in the dressing room between the English players and a faction led by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rashford hit back at a reporter, saying the story had been made up. And the understanding is that the 24-year-old has “no issue” with Ronaldo, while other sources believe that stories about dressing-room divisions are fabricated.

The reality is somewhere in between. As is the case at clubs across the country, the squad is full of different cliques and friendship groups.

Those close to the club are keen to shut down any suggestion this has developed into a big split. It is understood, however, there are doubts from some around Rangnick’s suitability for the job and there has been private criticism over some of the training sessions.

Adding to that feeling of uncertainty and ambiguity is the unknown nature of what this squad will look like next season with Rangnick expected to make a move upstairs as an advisor.

As long as there are doubts about United’s Champions League credentials for next season, there will be the talk of Ronaldo leaving, Paul Pogba’s expiring contract, and a new CEO still finding his feet.

It is a club that feels stuck in a vortex. For all their good intentions to get out of the situation they find themselves in, they just can’t.

 

The performance against Brighton was better in the second half– albeit against 10 men – but this weekend they face Leeds.

They might be 15th in the table but this is a fierce rivalry that goes deeper than results and league tables.

The last time United’s fans made the trip to Elland Road in the Premier League was back in 2003 when they were victorious thanks to a Roy Keane goal in the 81st minute.

 

The away support will be hoping not only for a goal from their captain on Sunday afternoon but also a display of leadership and unity that puts to bed everything that has been spoken about off the field.

If this team can go on a run until the end of the season, not only in the league but also in the Champions League, then it will not only silence their doubters but quell the murmurings of discontent.

While the team is trying hard to show they’re ‘United’, a win in a league clash against one of their most bitter rivals is the best way to prove that.

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