Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville labelled their current side “whinge-bags” as he slated a “shocking” first-half performance against Newcastle.
The relegation-battling Magpies led 1-0 at the break at St James’ Park after Allan Saint-Maximin’s seventh-minute goal punished a Raphael Varane mistake, and the hosts might have scored more against a below-par United side.
Substitute Edinson Cavani would ultimately rescue a point for United in a 1-1 draw, but only because David De Gea made key saves to deny Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron.
It was Manchester United’s attitude that most upset Neville, with Cristiano Ronaldo one of several players who appeared to spend more time on the pitch arguing than trying to create opportunities.
“They’re a bunch of whinge-bags,” pundit Neville said at half-time on Sky Sports. “Watch them on that pitch. I’ll not go into names but they’re whinging at each other, arms up in the air complaining about everything. Honestly, they were absolutely shocking in that first half.
“They got the last manager the sack. Ralf Rangnick is not going to get the sack, he’s only had two or three weeks with them, but they’ll get a lot of managers the sack if they carry on like that, because that’s a really, really poor performance.
“It’s only 45 minutes but they’ve got to sort themselves out because that’s massively below anything expected.”
Neville said he could understand if there was a degree of rustiness to United’s performance after 16 days without a game due to Covid postponements, with their training ground closed for much of that time and sessions under new boss Rangnick deeply compromised.
But he pointed to a lack of effort as unacceptable.
“There’s no pressing, no urgency, the basics of the game,” he said. “Every single battle of the game they’ve lost. That’s been a really poor performance. Not one single thing has gone right as a team. Not one single player can go in at half-time and say they’ve done their jobs or done themselves justice.”
Asked if there had been any positives, Neville said: “Nothing. I can’t say anything other than the fact they’ve had 16 days without a game and potentially there’s some reasons there but there are still the basics of the game you can do properly – win your battles, go for tackles, show a bit of urgency and look like it matters.”
Though Cavani levelled for United, Neville said it was difficult to make a case that United had been any better in the second half, pointing to the saves De Gea made – first from Saint-Maximin at close range, then to keep out Almiron’s curling effort after Jacob Murphy hit the post.
“I think Newcastle had some major chances in the second half, more than they had in the first, probably because Manchester United had so many more attacking players on the pitch and no defensive structure,” Neville said.
“That’s not what Ralf Rangnick has come in to do at Manchester United. That was a mess in terms of formation, style, it was desperation. (David De Gea) made a couple of great saves.
“It was really worrying. After Norwich Ralf Rangnick said the body language was poor and I think there will be a lot that he hates about what he’s seen tonight and I think he’ll really dislike that performance.”