We should not need motivating to fight for Manchester United

Harry Maguire has told his Manchester United teammates that there is “something wrong” if they are not enthusiastic about getting out of the club’s crisis.

In the most revealing account of United’s decline this season, the United captain painted a picture of an angry team and called for professionalism and unity to turn the course of the season.

Luke Shaw cited a lack of motivation among the players, while interim manager Ralph Rangnick asked dissatisfied players to deal with their disappointment in a professional manner.

Maguire held discussions with the players and Rangnick during a series of matches that saw them drop to seventh place in the Premier League ahead of a crucial FA Cup clash against Aston Villa on Monday due to morale.

“I know he’s written a lot about Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams and the way he used that to motivate his players. Obviously he did it brilliantly,” said Maguire.

“I have seen a lot of criticism and a lot of it is absolutely correct. But for me, with this team, he does not need criticism to motivate players. If players of this quality are not motivated to play for this club when they wear the shirt, something is wrong.

“We are all angry and want to do our best, which has probably happened on the pitch at times. But the team spirit is good despite what people say. Being a professional footballer you have to slam your chin and react well to it.

“We have a great team. Of course not all players will always be happy because they are not playing but that is football and we all have to remain professional.”

On Saturday, Marcus Rashford used his social media platforms to say he wasn’t sulky after shrinking in shape.

“I have endless respect for both of them and look forward to improving under Manchester United,” Rashford wrote. “I’m not surly, I’m not happy, am I disappointed in some of the shows I’ve been on lately? Of course I am. I’m my biggest critic.”

Since Rangnick’s appointment, United have won four games, but the German told his players that their bad body language helps opponents, then revealed his concern about their lack of intensity and use of the ball while dropping points against Newcastle Wolves.

In another blow, Paul Pogba faces another six weeks on the sidelines. Rangnick said it would take another four weeks before Pogba was able to return to training with a thigh injury and another two weeks after that before the French midfielder was in a position to play matches.

“As far as I know from the medical department, it’s going to last another three and four weeks, and once he’s fit to train, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s fit either,” Rangnick said. “It will probably take two weeks [after that] Before he can really compete for the first team.”

Shaw spoke out after last week’s defeat to Wolverhampton as form continued to deteriorate during the festive matches. Maguire is not using an excuse to shut down Carrington’s training base on Covid cases.

“Sometimes it’s good to have an ‘us against the world’ mentality,” Maguire said. It’s always been like that for the United players and we have to deal with it. The most important thing for us is the fans, we let them down.

“This team finished second last year and we have a better and bigger team this year so we have to show the right attitude. We have great players on the team, leaders. I’m tired of replaying myself but can’t go on like this, we need to go on a proper run starting from Monday.

“A lot of this (criticism) is justified and we all have a great responsibility, I myself am as captain as everyone else, if not more. I am the captain and captain in the dressing room, and I have had private conversations with the players and management which will remain confidential. Make no mistake. I’m here to fight and I know my teammates are there. I expect them to be and if they aren’t then something is wrong.

We can’t use Covid as an excuse, we’re in a privileged position. Many people are far worse than us and we have a duty to support them wherever we can, like the NHS. So we have to lower our heads and do better, no matter what is thrown our way. Other clubs have the same problems we have.”

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