Manchester United fans are rapidly losing patience with many of the club’s players after failing to see an improvement in performance levels since Ralf Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November.
While results haven’t been bad since Rangnick took the reins (one defeat in 10 games), performances have been very poor.
United somehow scraped a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on Monday night to book a FA Cup fourth round tie against Middlesbrough, but to say they rode their luck against Steven Gerrard’s side at Old Trafford would be an understatement.
This was yet another unconvincing display from a group of players who look desperately short of confidence.
Some deeply frustrated supporters wouldn’t be upset if every member of the squad was offloaded this summer. That’s how bad things have got.
But this is real life, not FIFA or Football Manager. While wholesale changes are possible this summer - and very much needed - the club can’t simply get rid of all of them.
We’ve had a go at ranking every member of the Man Utd squad into six categories: ‘Must keep’, ‘Let him prove his worth’, ’Talented youngster’, ‘Probably not good enough’, ‘Likely to leave soon’ and ‘No future at the club’.
Bruno Fernandes, David de Gea, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Raphael Varane, Scott McTominay
Bruno Fernandes has been poor this season by his high standards but everyone knows the quality he possesses. The same can be said for Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, two summer signings who have failed to hit the ground running but could flourish under United’s next permanent manager - whoever that might be.
David de Gea has been one of United’s standout performers this term, while Mason Greenwood is one of English football’s most gifted young forwards and must be kept at Old Trafford.
Scott McTominay divides opinion but always gives 100 per cent effort, has shown real signs of improvement this season and has even been tipped by Rangnick to potentially captain the club in the coming years.
"He is an academy boy, his energy is amazing," Rangnick said of McTominay, per the Manchester Evening News, after the Scottish midfielder was named Man of the Match against Aston Villa. "He now also starts scoring goals and also with some leadership skills.
"I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple of years he would be the captain of this team."
Sir Alex Ferguson, one of McTominay’s biggest admirers, would probably agree with that assessment.
Let him prove his worth
Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot, Fred, Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford
Luke Shaw and, in particular, Harry Maguire have both suffered from post-Euro 2020 hangovers and need to sort themselves out ASAP. It wouldn’t be a shock if Maguire is replaced as club captain this summer.
Fred and Diogo Dalot are both decent squad players and are probably worth keeping.
Marcus Rashford is a tricky one. There’s no getting away from the fact that the England forward has been dreadful this season. But let’s not forget that Rashford scored 21 goals in all competitions last term and 22 goals the season prior to that. He’s not a bad player, despite what some people are saying.
The 24-year-old is playing with zero confidence at the moment but surely deserves time to prove his worth.
James Garner, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga, Hannibal Mejbri, Shola Shoretire, Teden Mengi
Six of United’s most talented starlets, James Garner, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga, Hannibal Mejbri, Shola Shoretire and Teden Mengi all deserve the chance to force their way into the Red Devils’ first team over the coming seasons.
Getting rid of any of them at this stage would be a mistake.
Probably not good enough
Nemanja Matic, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams, Phil Jones, Tahith Chong, Victor Lindelof
Nemanja Matic turns 34 later this year and the Serbian midfielder’s lack of mobility is an issue. Eric Bailly is a popular member of the dressing room but far too erratic on the pitch.
Alex Telles, 29, doesn’t have the quality to cement his status as United’s first-choice left back. Axel Tuanzebe is now 24 and currently on loan at Napoli.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has an awful lot to prove. The £50 million signing from Crystal Palace has struggled defensively this season, while his attacking ability is still way below what you’d expect from a United first-choice right-back.
Brandon Williams is still only 21 and getting some valuable experience at Norwich City but it’s hard to envisage him blossoming into United’s main left-back at this stage.
Phil Jones, who turns 30 in February, produced an impressive performance against Wolves after two years out of action but is too injury-prone to be considered a reliable long-term option.
Tahith Chong, 22, has talent but is he really Manchester United quality?
As for Victor Lindelof, the Sweden international makes too many mistakes and should probably be moved on in the summer.
Likely to leave soon
Donny van de Beek, Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba
Has Cristiano Ronaldo improved Man Utd as a team? Will he want to stick around if the club aren’t competing in the Champions League next season? It might be best for all concerned if the legendary Portuguese forward moves elsewhere at the end of the season.
Edinson Cavani doesn’t seem to want to stick around beyond this season, and neither does Paul Pogba, who is likely to leave Old Trafford as a free agent.
That two different managers have continually overlooked Donny van de Beek suggests he doesn’t do enough in training to convince the club’s coaches that he deserves to be playing. Fans would love to see more of the Dutch midfielder but we reckon he’ll be gone before the start of next season.
No future at the club
Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira, Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Lee Grant, Tom Heaton
Juan Mata has been an excellent servant to Man Utd and is also a fantastic representative for the club but his best days are well behind him. It’s time for the Spaniard to leave.
Anthony Martial has lost his desire to fight for his place at Old Trafford and must be offloaded as soon as possible. Likewise, Jesse Lingard needs to be moved on sooner rather than later.
Dean Henderson also wants to leave the club and should be allowed to do so, while 26-year-old Andreas Pereira is never going to be good enough to become a first-team regular.
Back-up goalkeepers Lee Grant and Tom Heaton have a combined age of 73. Surely it’s more beneficial if younger, hungrier ‘keepers - whether already at the club or brought in from elsewhere - take their places from the 2022-23 season onwards?
Man Utd Tiermaker
And here's a Tiermaker graphic of our picks:
VAR saves Man Utd vs Aston Villa (Football Terrace)
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