Joleon Lescott column: Rangnick's theatre of screams is no surprise

Joleon Lescott
LiveScore
Ralf Rangnick's struggles at Manchester United have not surprised Joleon Lescott
Ralf Rangnick's struggles at Manchester United have not surprised Joleon Lescott

It continues to go from bad to worse at Manchester United and victory over rock-bottom Norwich on Saturday is an absolute must.

I was at Goodison Park for United's defeat to Everton last weekend and it was quite startling just how poor they were against opponents so low on confidence.

I’ve read comments this week about Ralf Rangnick’s reputation being damaged. But what reputation are we talking about?

Rangnick is clearly a very intelligent man and has worked in football for a long time. However, in terms of coaching at an elite level, he’s barely ever done it.

Two separate one-season stints with RB Leipzig are all he’s had on the touchline over the last decade, so I’m not sure we can say he was arriving in England with a big reputation as a coach.

Where Rangnick has made his name is as a director and an adviser. He's a clearly a quality decision-maker who knows all about getting a club moving in the right direction.

But expecting him to compete with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel as a coach is completely unrealistic.

That lack of experience is also apparent throughout the club's wider staff.

The likes of Darren Fletcher and John Murtagh have good football backgrounds but are relative novices in their current roles.

I've spoken several times this season about the importance of position-specific experience at a successful club and I still think it’s an area where United are way behind their rivals.

Though there are no end of issues at the Theatre of Dreams, Rangnick has to take a fair chunk of the blame for recent performances.

At least under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, players were training and playing with smiles on their faces. There appears to be a real lack of enthusiasm around the place now. 

I still expect Rangnick to take up his backroom role next season but just how much influence he’ll have over first-team affairs remains to be seen.

Looking to the future

Joleon Lescott thinks Marcus Rashford can get back to his best under Erik ten Hag
Joleon Lescott thinks Marcus Rashford can get back to his best under Erik ten Hag

If Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is in charge next season, he’s going to need to be given the power to make some big decisions — and plenty of patience.

I don’t think any United fans realistically expect them to be instant title contenders again, so he should get the chance to implement his style and culture throughout the club.

Naturally, he’ll want to move some players on and bring his own men in. But a new manager can also give players who are struggling a new lease of life.

Marcus Rashford is one player who I think could be reinvigorated under Ten Hag.

Nobody can deny that Marcus’ form has tailed off hugely in recent times. He’s looked a different player to the one who burst onto the scene years ago.

At his best, he’s a forward who plays with complete freedom and enjoys his football, but this season he’s looked weighed down by everything.

Confidence plays a huge part in performances and having a manager who believes in you is key. 

If Ten Hag gets his arm around him and encourages him, he can get back to where he was.

Marcus is Manchester United through and through, loves the club and everyone knows what he can do at his best. To me, talk of selling him in the summer is crazy.

With fourth spot looking increasingly unlikely this season, there’s some debate about whether a schedule without European football could be beneficial for Ten Hag — but I don’t buy it.

Even if it’s the Europa League, Manchester United have to be competing on the continental stage — financially, commercially and in terms of attracting players.

Finishing seventh or eighth is never acceptable for a club of that size. Not even in transition.

That’s why these last seven games still carry so much importance for them.

Joleon Lescott’s Premier League Matchday 33 predictions

Tottenham vs Brighton (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)

Harry Kane and Tottenham continue their top-four bid as Brighton visit North London
Harry Kane and Tottenham continue their top-four bid as Brighton visit North London

Spurs look to have too much for Brighton on current form. The Seagulls snapped a bad run against Arsenal last weekend and it could be tight, but I think they come up short.

Prediction: Home win

Manchester United vs Norwich (Saturday, 3pm)

Even though they're having a tough time at the moment, I have to go for a United win. There’s a huge difference in the quality of players and it should shine through at Old Trafford.

Prediction: Home win

Watford vs Brentford (Saturday, 3pm) 

Time is running out for Watford and they need wins to boost their fading survival hopes. I’m sure Roy Hodgson will have a clear plan to tackle Brentford but they're stubborn opponents.

Prediction: Draw

Southampton vs Arsenal (Saturday, 3pm)

Bad results for both sides last week and Arsenal in particular need a quick response for their top-four bid. I think Southampton's home loss to Chelsea might see them go back to basics and it could be tight.

Prediction: Draw

Newcastle vs Leicester (Sunday, 2.15pm, Sky Sports)

These two have both picked up after poor starts to the campaign and this should make for an entertaining game. I’ll edge towards Brendan Rodgers’ side, who just have that extra gear at the moment.

Prediction: Away win

West Ham vs Burnley (Sunday, 2.15pm)

This could be the upset of the weekend. Both sides need the points so desperately for different reasons and I think the Clarets nick it.

Prediction: Away win

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