At the moment, United are trapped in one of the doom spirals that have derailed them periodically over the last 10 years. Their commitment to a crisis is remarkable and right now they are doing so much firefighting they should be relocated to Pontypandy.
Things aren&apost exactly going brilliantly on the pitch. Two wins and two defeats from their first four games and some unconvincing performances will be concerning Ten Hag, but things are going even worse off the pitch. What they wouldn&apost give for a good news story right now.
That looks unlikely right now. It&aposs been a nightmare few weeks for United and things don&apost appear to be getting any better. Sunday&aposs gut-wrenching defeat at Arsenal was immediately overshadowed by Jadon Sancho&aposs unwise and incredible response to Ten Hag&aposs claim he wasn&apost selected based on his training form.
Sancho used social media to essentially accuse his own manager of lying and claimed he was being made a “scapegoat”. It was a stunning and unexpected broadside. United have tried to douse the flames by remaining silent since, but sources have insisted Ten Hag stands by his own comments.
The winger could well face disciplinary action for his outburst and it&aposs difficult to see an immediate path back for him. Just seven months after Ten Hag was praised for his sensitive handling of Sancho, this is a relationship now on the rocks. Maybe the distance between them early this week will help emotions cool, but the build-up to the Brighton fixture will be dominated by the issue.
Training images and footage will be pored over for clues and Ten Hag will face numerous questions about Sancho when he faces the media a week on Friday. Primarily, the next decision to make is whether he is considered for a return to the squad.
That situation alone, a 73million signing and a manager publicly at loggerheads, is disastrous for a football club, but at United at the moment it&aposs just one of many plotlines. Ten Hag&aposs coaching skills and ability to build a team are what attracted the club to him, but his management skills will get a far greater test than that over the next few weeks.
Just as United looked to have moved the problem of Mason Greenwood on, they face a potentially tricky situation with another winger. The U-turn on plans to reintegrate Greenwood, the attempt to get the media to publish an inaccurate statement from the player and United&aposs own claims that an internal investigation had cleared his name all came under the microscope.
The club eventually decided he couldn&apost resume his career at Old Trafford and an unexpected loan move to Getafe was secured on deadline day.
But now the pressure is mounting around United&aposs handling of Antony, who is being investigated by police amid claims he attacked his former girlfriend. It is an issue that has caused some headlines in Brazil in recent months, but the website UOL produced an interview with the alleged victim Gabriela Cavallin on Monday, which included photographs and screenshots of messages.
Cavallin has claimed she was headbutted and punched by Antony in a hotel room in Manchester the day after the 2-1 win against Manchester City on January 14, which is being investigated by Greater Manchester Police. She also said she suffered a cut to her finger during an incident on May 8. The issue is also being looked at by Sao Paulo Civil Police in Brazil.
United have pointed enquiries into their stance on Antony in the direction of his social media denials, but the pressure is growing after the 85million winger was sensationally dropped on Monday from the Brazil squad for World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Peru.
The CBF&aposs decision to axe him from the international squad this week turns the spotlight onto United and their handling of the 23-year-old, who posted on Instagram on Monday to deny all the claims.
Out of respect for my fans, friends and family I feel obligated to speak publicly about the false accusations I have been a victim of,” he wrote.
From the beginning I have handled this issue seriously and with respect, providing the due clarifications to the police authority. The police inquest is under cover of justice, and therefore cannot make its content public. However, I can say with confidence that the accusations are false and that the evidence already produced and more to be produced show that I am innocent of the accusations made.
My relationship with Ms. Gabriela was tumultuous, with verbal offences from both sides, but I never practised any physical aggression. Every time, whether in testimony or in an interview, she presents a different version of the accusations. Thus, I come to deny the accusations made and inform that I remain at the full disposal of the Brazilian authorities to clarify what is needed. I trust the ongoing police investigations will reveal the truth about my innocence.
The developments in the Antony case are a controversy United didn&apost need just two weeks after their statement on Greenwood.
It is all adding up to a club that is losing its way. Players are naturally affected by these kinds of issues and the dressing room is likely to be unsettled by the developments this week. It calls for careful management for Ten Hag at a time when results are faltering and he has a growing injury crisis to deal with.
Then there is the lack of progress on the takeover and the unpalatable possibility that the Glazers remain at the club. Ten Hag and club bosses have bigger issues to deal with in the short-term, but the silence on the future ownership of the club can only go on for so long. A decision has to be made.