Luke Shaw hinted at a lack of unity and motivation in the camp
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Luke Shaw questioned Manchester United’s togetherness and Ralf Rangnick refused to offer any guarantees of a top-four finish after the club crashed to a sixth defeat in their past 14 Premier League matches at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Joao Moutinho’s 82nd-minute volley earned Wolverhampton Wanderers a deserved 1-0 victory – their first win at Old Trafford for 42 years – and ended Rangnick’s unbeaten start as interim manager.
Defeat leaves United four points adrift of Arsenal, in fourth, with a game in hand, with Shaw hinting at a lack of unity and motivation in the camp.
Shaw’s remarks come less than a week after Gary Neville branded United’s players a “bunch of whinge-bags” during a 1-1 draw at Newcastle and Rangnick called on the team to stop moaning at each other on the pitch.
“Us players, we have been here a long time, maybe tonight we struggled, I didn’t think we were all there together,” the United left-back said. “You look at the players we have, we have unbelievable quality but sometimes quality is not enough.
“We need to bring the intensity and more motivation. Inside the dressing room, we know what we want but out on the pitch we need to give 100 per cent. To win these types of games we all need to be 100 per cent committed. It is tough and disappointing.
“It was not good enough, we really struggled, we couldn’t get hold of the ball and when we didn’t have the ball we weren’t aggressive enough. We didn’t put them under any pressure. It maybe looked like an easy game for them. A disappointing performance and result. We didn’t have many options on the ball and we weren’t on the front foot.
“They were miles better in the first half. We let them take control of the game. Maybe rhythm, intensity, aggression are lacking.”
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Rangnick admitted United “still have a long way to go” to improve and would offer no promises that the club would finish the season in the top four.
“I cannot make any guarantees,” he said. “Look at today’s performance – if I say we are 10 per cent convinced we will finish in the top four, I don’t know if people will believe that. For me it is about taking the next steps and getting better.
“I knew this could and would be hard but today’s game showed we still have a long way to go.
“Today we showed similar problems the team had three or four weeks ago before I arrived. It is not an easy job to develop a DNA with and without the ball. The game today showed there are still quite a few steps to [make].”
Rangnick’s decision to substitute Mason Greenwood – United’s best attacking player on the night – after an hour was met with a chorus of boos by the Old Trafford crowd but the German defended the decision.
“The question was shall I take off Mason or shall I take off Edi [Edinson Cavani],” he said. “We decided to keep Edi as the more offensive, the more striker of the two on the pitch. I take off Mason, that was my call. We could also have done it in a different way but it shows how highly the fans like Mason as a homegrown player and, as I said, his effort and performance was not outstanding but at least he was one of the better players today.”
‘We gave away a goal that was far too easy – Moutinho could shoot unmarked with no pressure’
Rangnick was forced to switch to a back three at half-time and match Wolves’ 3-4-3 system in a bid to gain some control in the game and decried his team’s failure to pick up Moutinho on the edge of the penalty area after Phil Jones had cleared a cross as far as the Wolves midfielder.
“In the first half we were struggling,” he said. “We had too many easy turnovers, too many unforced errors and too many giveaways. That didn’t make the job any easier for us and that is why we changed to a back three. We didn’t play well at all individually or collectively. In the first half, we had big problems to keep them away from our goal.
“The goal we conceded showed our problems defensively. We defended the cross but nobody was there to block the shot, we gave away a goal that was far too easy. Moutinho could shoot unmarked with no problems, no pressure.
“We didn’t press at all. We tried but we were not able to get into those pressing situations. We’re very disappointed about the result and parts of our performance. The game showed we still have a lot of work to do.”
Moutinho celebrated the goal with a rocking action in honour of his new baby boy, Rodrigo, and admitted he needed to shoot more. "I have a baby that is three months old now and the goal is for my wife and two daughters,” he said. “I had to wait nine months and then three months more to be able to do this celebration, but it’s for them. That’s what I need to do, to shoot more. A beautiful goal.”
Meanwhile Paul Ince, the former United midfielder, queried performances from the team under Rangnick and questioned whether the interim manager would be in charge any longer than the end of the season.
Asked if there had been progress, Ince told Sky Sports: "If I’m being totally honest, then no.
He added: "Do you see Ralf being the manager come the end of the season? The answer on the basis at this moment – and it is early doors – you’ve got to say no.
"I’m not sure if this job is a poisoned chalice. It’s the biggest job in the world, the biggest club in the world, but it’s like a poisoned chalice."