Not Fit To Wear The Shirt?

Not fit to wear the shirt?

Loyal away support turns on Manchester United players after 4-0 defeat to Brighton with a ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ chant.

Are they right?

Is this the worst Manchester United team on record?

Are any of them fit to wear the shirt? Who goes, who stays?

You decide

When former Manchester United striker and academy graduate, Danny Welbeck, received the ball on the right-hand side of the penalty box on the hour mark of United’s trip to the south coast to face Brighton, he was in splendid isolation. Not a defender, midfielder, or attacker from the away side was anywhere near him. With time and space to consider his options, he dinked a ball to the far post and a hapless last-ditch clearance from Diogo Dalot bounced off the chest of Leandro Trossard and dribbled into the United net past a flailing David de Gea. 4-0. 

Yes, Brighton and Hove Albion 4 Manchester United 0.

The United away support, one of the most loyal and vociferous in the Premier League had seen enough and decided it could not get any worse than this.

A chant of ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt.’ rang out loud and interrupted for the rest of the match. It was the sound of keening disappointment and disbelief. Feelings intended to be felt.

In the post-match interviews, Bruno Fernandes conceded that they were right.

“The fans are right,” he said. “We were not fit to wear it.”

On the sidelines, interim manager, Ralf Rangnick, looked forlorn. As if contemplating a tricky bungee jump, staring into the abyss of his choices. What had he signed up to? Surely, this is not the great Manchester United?

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No, Ralf, it is not.

Erik Ten Hag when he watched the match in Holland after steering his Ajax side a step closer to the Eredivisie title on Sunday, must have pressed pause often to have a long think and maybe pore over the fine print of his contract with the Red Devils to see if he could undo his agreement.

Jim White writing in The Daily Telegraph described the events at Brighton from Manchester United’s perspective as ‘a performance of such wretched ineptitude that Ten Hag won’t know where to start.” 

“This United side are so bad, they couldn’t even conjure a consolation.”

I think we can all agree with that summary and the fact that United’s incoming manager does indeed have one helluva task in front of him.

Wretched performances have become the norm for the Old Trafford side. A deep malaise is all too obvious at the football club. Bereft of leaders, quality and determination.

Many pundits, ex-players, and fans on forums have argued recently that they cannot remember a worse Manchester United side in living memory. Certainly, a contender was the early 1970s side managed by Frank O’Farrell thumped 5-0 in mid-season by Crystal Palace and hovering near relegation which led to him being replaced by the effervescent Tommy Docherty. That team was a pale shadow of the first eleven that hoisted the European Cup but a few years earlier. They were stolid, workmanlike, unexciting, unable to defend.

Not dissimilar, in fact, to what Manchester United has now.

This current team’s decline is all the more remarkable in that it comes on the back of unprecedented success with Sir Alex Ferguson, a groaning trophy cabinet, and five eligible replacements since the Scot retired who have been singularly and collectively unable to arrest the slump with more or less the same personnel. A cast list assembled with a colossal, almost obscene, outlay.

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And what a side United’s ‘upstairs’ men have recruited. Two trophies in nine years, they have gone backward alarmingly. Players walk around the pitch disinterested, lacking energy, fight, and spirit, searching for clues, and impervious to rhythm, nous, and teamwork.

Where is Marcus Rashford? What happened to Anthony Martial? The England form of Harry Maguire? Has Raphael Varane, perennial Champions League winner with Real Madrid simply caught bad defending disease from his fellow back four? Fred does Sambas with Brazil, he is more like Bambi on the ice at Manchester United. His sidekick McTomminay uses himself as a human battering ram, that is the new axis at the helm once marshaled by Keane and Scholes..

What galls Manchester United fans most? Aside from being left far far behind by their closest and fiercest rivals?

Is it the sight of Victor Lindelof on far too many occasions, arms behind his back, rendering him unable to move properly and therefore defend, turning his back out of fear of being struck by the ball that sticks in the craw of United supporters?

Or is it Bruno Fernandes when his dreadful attempted crosses at Brighton hit the first man every time and he begins bitching, moaning, and blaming his colleagues in red? A trend he has become an expert at in recent times. Presumably, they should have anticipated his woeful attempts at passes and not expected a £67million footballer to find a decent pass to a teammate.

Or is it Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan Bissaka AWOL at the back, having chased a punt upfield as if playing Sunday league?

Or maybe the legend that is Ronaldo, holding his hands up, shaking his head, and laughing at the whole mad parade around him?

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Would David de Gea, Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles, Fred, Scott McTomminay, Anthony Elanga, Bruno Fernandes, and Ronaldo get into the Liverpool or Manchester City, Tottenham, or Chelsea sides? Let alone Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, or PSG?

When have we ever said that about a Manchester United team?

The debate is on. And the keenest debate centres around: how many should be stripped of this Manchester United shirt?

Ralf Rangnick is thinking in terms of eight or nine. Reports have suggested that Erik Ten Hag has six in mind that he can count on. Really? Who could they be?

Is it time for a root and branch clear-out of players in the first team, and the fabled academy to provide the bulk of Ten Hag’s team going forward?

What is the way forward for Manchester United and who is fit to wear the shirt?

The shame of their loyal supporters turning on them in this manner, demands an answer.

Over to you,

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