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There are players in that United dressing room who are snakes

MANCHESTER United’s staggering deficiencies have been laid bare during a no-holds-barred episode of Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast.

United’s defeat at Newcastle on Saturday night was their sixth of a miserable Premier League season and leaves Erik ten Hag’s team completely off the pace in seventh. They are also out of the Carabao Cup and face elimination from the Champions League.

At St James’ Park, United’s manager again failed to get a performance out of Marcus Rashford, while fellow forward Anthony Martial was hauled off after an hour. They were not the only culprits. Tomorrow night they face Chelsea at Old Trafford, with home supporters again ready to revolt.

Speaking to It’s All Kicking Off co- host Ian Ladyman, former Premier League winner Chris Sutton turned his fire on the United players and said: ‘This is far bigger than Ten Hag. He has players in that dressing room who are snakes as far as I’m concerned.

‘ Players who aren’t running. Bruno Fernandes isn’t running. Marcus Rashford isn’t running. Anthony Martial isn’t running. They are talented players so why?

‘Bruno Fernandes, I don’t know what position he plays, but Bruno is the captain. If Roy Keane was captain, if Steve Bruce was captain, if Bryan Robson was captain, would they be allowing what goes on out on the field?

‘It is the manager who carries the can, but would they allow players not to run back and not pull their weight?

‘I can imagine the Newcastle players in the dressing room before that game. I imagine them having to be held in and then bursting and ready to explode. That’s how I imagine an Eddie Howe dressing room feels.

‘Then on the other side you have Manchester United and their dressing room, which is just full of prima donnas.’

Ladyman, Mail Sport’s football editor, compared Ten Hag’s players to ‘ teenagers who don’t want to get out of bed’ and looked back to the days of interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who coached the team for six months following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer two years ago.

‘Rangnick knew he would only be there for a few months, so every Friday at his press conference he would be firing bullets because he knew he was off in a few months so didn’t care who got caught in the crossfire,’ said Ladyman.

‘He said the United squad needed open-heart surgery. Everybody gasped. How could he say that?

‘Well they have had that surgery now in terms of buying players. Players have gone out, others have come in.

‘Ten Hag has spent money, but what they still haven’t located at Manchester United is a soul and a heartbeat and I think that is the issue. However Ten Hag juggles it, changes players and their positions, and players come into form like Harry Maguire has, and they have the odd good result, fundamentally he hasn’t managed to find the soul of that squad.

‘I actually wonder if it has one. If it hasn’t he is absolutely screwed because you cannot exist and survive in the Premier League without courage and without energy, vitality, belief and a unity and attitude that says, “I will show everybody else what I am and what we are”.

‘If you haven’t got that then whether you are Burnley near the bottom or Arsenal at the top then you are absolutely screwed.

‘The more I watch United the more I realise that problem is still there.

‘What will kill United fans — time-served fans brought up on a diet of “Glory, Glory Man United” and “Attack! Attack! Attack!” — is that we are in the middle of this incredible Premier League season that some say is the best ever, with teams like Tottenham, Brighton, Villa and Brentford, and even teams punching up at the bottom like Wolves, and stuck in the middle of it, like that gnarly bit of popcorn you sometimes get in the middle of your bag at the cinema is Manchester United, the team that has nothing to offer.

‘If you put together a highlights package of the season about all the drama and excitement, what would their contribution be? Two late goals at home to Brentford.

‘United fans can cope with not being top of the league, they are not stupid. No one can be top every year. But they can’t cope with watching c**p and that’s the problem. They can’t cope with being bored and that’s one of the issues. It’s been like this for 10 years.’

United actually went into Saturday’s game as the form team in the Premier League, with five wins from six. But even last week Sutton, a Golden Boot winner with Blackburn in 1998, described watching Ten Hag’s team as like eating cold porridge.

‘ It’s like Oliver Twist’s gruel isn’t?’ he told It’s All Kicking Off. ‘They have huge problems. Name a team in the top half of the table they have beaten this season. You can’t because there isn’t one. That’s the whole point.

‘We are at the stage now where even Manchester United fans are doubting them. They have been on a run where they have beaten some bang average teams.

‘See Aston Villa and Tottenham and you see an identity, a brand of football and players running. You see players busting a gut. You see Newcastle injury ravaged, but the players are having a go. They are giving a lot.

‘Let’s try to be balanced. Last season Ten Hag over-achieved maybe, but this season they are like a rotten window frame. You can paint over it to make it look better and get you through the

It was said United needed open-heart surgery but what they still haven’t located is a soul

winter but essentially it’s rotten.’ Ten Hag hinted at problems with Martial after Saturday’s game, while Rashford has scored two league goals this season — the second a penalty — after managing 17 last time round.

Ladyman added: ‘ The fact Anthony Martial has played more than 300 times for Manchester United sums up the lack of quality in that team.

‘I don’t actually know what Ten Hag does now. He buys a good character in Mason Mount, for example, but he has had injuries and can’t get in the team.

‘So he tries to buy a bit of quality in terms of his football, but also a quality individual, but he can’t get in the team. It is Groundhog here.’





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