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Mitten: "United getting that fourth spot is looking increasingly difficult"

Andy Mitten believes there are myriad reasons why Manchester United are still suffering from inconsistent form this year.

Journalist Andy Mitten believes there are myriad reasons why Manchester United are still suffering from inconsistent form in this season’s Premier League.

United stumbled to a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United on Monday night.

Club legend Gary Neville slammed the United players on Sky Sports after the game, branding them “a bunch of whinge-bags.

Mitten joined Johnny Ward on Monday’s Off the Ball. He warns that the issues plaguing United this season won’t simply evaporate under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

“Bruno Fernandes is not playing well,” Mitten remarked. “He was fantastic when he came and throughout last season; he’s not having a good year at all.”

“He’s frustrated. To be fair to him, he does try the passes which are the most difficult to pull off, and he’s brave when he does that. But he’s not playing well.”

“I first noticed his body language at Wolves away at the start of the season, and I thought ‘stop that, you’re just gonna get yourself into trouble’ - and he hasn’t stopped that.”

“He’s going through a bad spell; he has not suddenly become a bad footballer.”

“Rashford is not playing well either, we can’t pretend any different.”

“Are the media going too easy on him? I don’t think so.”

Mitten: "It’s pretty disparaging to suggest that Maguire is second-tier."

Mitten also dismissed the notion that struggling centre-back Harry Maguire is not fit to be considered a Premier League defender.

“He’s clearly Premier League-level,” Mitten retorted. “He proved he was one of Leicester City’s best players.”

“I’m not saying he’s Vidić-level or Ferdinand-level. But I think it’s pretty disparaging to suggest that he’s a second-tier footballer.”

“He’s not having a good season, and he’s not playing well. But you could say the same thing about a few of the players who played for England at the Euros, like Shaw.”

Mitten argued that Monday night’s result reflect a general trend with United this season. 

“It’s not just the Newcastle game; Norwich away, 1-0, De Gea saves Manchester United again.”

“Palace at home, 1-0, [Jordan] Ayew missed a really good chance after 75 minutes.”

Finally, Mitten gave the thoughts on whether some of the blame can be laid at the feet of Rangnick.

“You can’t put it on the manager, because he’s just arrived,” Mitten said. “But he has overseen major changes.”

“He’s seen three of the coaches leave - who he didn’t want to leave - in Kieran McKenna, Michael Carrick and Martyn Pert.”

“The loss of those three coaches was a loss, because they were the lads that were taking training everyday.”

“Suddenly, the interim manager has to bring in new coaches, and the players are going to be sussing them out.”

“You’ve got Covid to deal with as well, and the other managers also have to contend with that.”

However, Mitten does not completely absolve the German either.

“He chose the formation last night, and it didn’t work at all,” Mitten conceded. “Newcastle were breaking out so easily as Manchester United’s high press failed.”

“There are lots of questions, lots of concerns, and Manchester United have to try and get that fourth spot, and it’s looking increasingly difficult.”

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Andy Mitten Football On Off The Ball Harry Maguire Manchester United Old Trafford Ralf Rangnick