Ralph Rangnick admitted he is dealing with some unhappy players, but played down the situation as Manchester United look to get back on a winning track in the FA Cup.
That interim manager lost his first match in charge on Monday night, when the Wolves suffered a 1-0 home loss that was far more one-sided than the scoreline.
United’s humble performance was followed by reports of a bad mood inside the dressing room, with 17 players unhappy.
Many of them are fringe players, but there are supposedly some star names among the dissidents, yet Rangnik did not budge on such talk.
“Well, I mean it’s not just an issue with a club like Manchester United,” he said ahead of Monday’s FA Cup third-round clash against Aston Villa.
“When you have a big team, we had most of the players available in the last two games.
“Yes, we had an issue against Wolves with three centre-backs missing, but in general – we had most of the players available apart from Paul Pogba.
“If you have that many players and 10 outfield players can play and three are being replaced, then of course you have a lot of players – in our case 12, 13, 14 players who don’t even play, Or not.
“Then those players are not happy with that situation. It is clear, it is clear.
“Overall, we have a great team. I explain to the players every two or three weeks why they are not playing but obviously I can’t do that in every game and it affects our team as well as others. There is an issue in clubs as well.”
Midfielder Fred made it clear on social media this afternoon that he is not unhappy with Old Trafford and distanced himself from “fake news”.
The Brazilian said on Twitter: “Over the past few days, I’ve read a lot of fake news (stories) involving my name and that of other MUFC athletes. I’m not used to answering controversial things publicly, but this time I do Will happen.
“I just want to say that I am very happy to be here and I have never expressed any dissatisfaction and the possibility of leaving the club. Do not be fooled by fake news. We work diligently to further our goals will continue.”
The disappointment is understandable given the current plight of the 20-time league champions on top of any background concerns, with United facing a crucial decision about their next permanent manager.
Interim boss Rangnik has not ruled himself out of the race but continues to talk about the likes of Ajax boss Eric ten Haig and long-acclaimed Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain.
Asked whether players not knowing about their future could affect performances, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s successor said: “I mean, we have players expiring in the summer.
“We also probably have one or two players who still want to leave, although they are under contract.
“It is about players dealing in a professional manner. Everyone has the opportunity and option to show up in training, show up and then get a chance to play.
“If it is not, of course with the player, the club and the agents, they need to discuss the situation.
“But as far as I can tell, the players are dealing with it in a professional manner, so I can’t say anything more,” he said.
“If I find out that’s not the case I will address it directly with the players.”
United’s immediate focus is reacting to the Wolves’ loss by keeping one of their two remaining routes alive for potential silverware.
“Everyone was very disappointed after the game – not just about the result but the performance, especially the first half,” Rangnik said.
“We now have four days of training ahead of the Aston Villa game and my job is to make sure we show a different performance against Aston Villa on Monday.
“They’re at least trying (to buy into my plans)
“I’m sure they’re listening and I think we’ve shown in previous games against Palace, Burnley and away games against Norwich and Newcastle that they’re trying to follow the advice we’ve been given, I give it to them.
“We scored fewer goals than before. Our average per game was 1.7 which we have accepted so far. 0.6 in those six games.
“But, yeah, still, it’s about balance. We need to find the best possible balance between offense and defense and we still have to do something and do better.”