Erik ten Hag is all set on bringing Steve McClaren back to Man Utd as part of his Old Trafford summer overhaul.
The second-half at Brighton a week ago was indeed sombre and probably amongst the lowest moments Manchester United have experienced over the last decade as the squad posted a disjointed and disinterested performance as if from a group of individuals who looked like they would rather be anywhere else but on that pitch.
“You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” rambled the chant from the away end, as the ever-loyal fans finally snapped at a team who has let them too often this season.
Sadly the connection between players and fans has never ever been so disjointed, but then again it’s hard to recall a side that has been so lackluster in the club’s illustrious history.
Truthfully, the obvious lack of effort is not something which has emerged over recent weeks either, as toxic attitude problems had been rife for much of the season and hitting new extremes when Ralf Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solksjaer last November.
Incoming Erik ten Hag will have a massive job on his hands as he is entrusted with the responsibility to instil the winning mentality he had pinpointed as a key factor behind Ajax’s latest title win in midweek into a near lifeless United squad. Key to that will definitely be a ruthless overhaul of the playing squad which has failed dismally too many times across this season.
Another vital component in the Dutchman’s arsenal will be the staff he brings in to provide the support he needs, with one of them having already made his feelings very clear about the underperforming United players this season.
Steve McClaren – the former England manager and assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at United – is Ten Hag’s primary target for a role on his backroom staff and is viewed as someone who could bring invaluable insight into the political reverberations surrounding the club.
Ten Hag was one of McClaren’s assistants during the latter’s successful spell at FC Twente, and despite eschewing any interest in being a first-team manager again, is not averse to relishing the opportunity of a role reversal by playing back-up to his former sidekick.
The 61-year-old could obviously bring his vast experience as the former England manager and longtime assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson to bear in helping to rebuild Ten Hag’s United team and offer insight into how the English football game functions. Undeniably, though, it is his ruthless verdict on who is dispensable this summer most importantly of all might be.
“The disappointing thing for me was, 3-1 with 25 minutes left and the players stopped running,” McClaren told talkSPORT of the United side that lost to Man City back in March. “They didn’t stop running for the manager, they stopped running for each other. Then you’ve got problems.
“In adversity, that is when they need to stick together, and they never did. Under that surface, there are big problems in that dressing room, and nobody has solved them. The solution is quite simple; they need a manager who the players will trust and who they will run for and die for them.
“You need to get the bad ones out of the dressing room. This is the key to it, and Roy Keane was spot on. Five or six of them don’t deserve to wear the shirt. Get them out of the club and sign players who will run and fight for that shirt.”
United are set for an extensive squad overhaul this summer, with six players leaving for free when their contracts expire, while another handful could quite easily be shifted too.
Rangnick has already advised United to sign as many as ten new players at the end of the season, though some club sources believe that verdict to be extreme, with the rebuilding job more likely to comprise of half that number at most.
It means McClaren might not be able to implement the wide-scale removal he had hoped for, but getting rid of a few of those ‘bad ones’ would certainly be a start.
A week after being told they are not fit to wear the shirt, some of them will never get to again.