Ralf Rangnick has admitted there are “unhappy” players at Manchester United but told them to maintain their discipline and insisted he will deal personally with anyone he feels is not pulling their weight.
United’s interim manager is understood to be privately concerned that dressing room unrest could derail their bid for a top four finish in the Premier League.
Defender Luke Shaw questioned the players’ togetherness in the wake of Monday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Wolves and morale and confidence are on the floor with splits emerging in the camp and a third of the squad wanting to leave.
With the FA Cup representing their most realistic chance of silverware this season as United bid to end a four-and-a-half-year wait for a trophy, Rangnick is desperate for his side to get back on track against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday night.
And the German has told the squad it is essential they behave professionally and suggested that players who are not committed should leave Old Trafford.
“This is not only an issue with a club like Manchester United,” Rangnick said. “In the last two games we had most players available and if you have that many players and only 10 outfield players can play, and three being a substitute, then you have 12, 13, 14, who don’t play or are not even in the squad.
“That those players are unhappy about the situation, it’s obvious, it’s clear. I tend to explain to players every two or three weeks why they are not playing but I cannot do that in every game and that is an issue in our team as well as in other clubs.
He added: “We have players with contracts expiring in the summer, we have maybe also one or two players who still want to leave but are under contract.
“It’s about the players dealing with that situation in a professional way. Everyone has the chance to show in training, to show up, and then get the chance to play.
“If this is not the case, the player – together with the club and the agents – need to discuss the situation. As far as I can tell so far the players have been dealing with that in a professional way. If I realise this is not the case I will address that to the players directly.”
Anthony Martial’s £200,000 a week wages are jeopardising a loan move to Sevilla and United have yet to receive any enquiries from other interested parties, including Newcastle, for the France striker.
Donny van de Beek, Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones all want regular football and are open to moves and Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata could all leave as free agents at the end of the season.
Rangnick has already told players to sort out their dismal body language on the pitch and complained about a lack of physical intensity as he struggles to implement a high press as well as their poor use of the ball, which is undermining his desire for more control in games.
Asked if he felt the players were buying into his methods amid concerns he is struggling to win over and motivated some members of the squad, Rangnick said: “They’re at least trying, I’m sure they are listening and I think we showed in the last games against [Crystal] Palace, Burnley and in parts against Norwich and Newcastle they are trying to follow the advice I give them.”
United have won just three of six matches under Rangnick, with the manager hoping the players improve their decision-making. “We had too many giveaways, turnovers in that game [against Wolves], this is an issue we spoke about with the team,” he said. “We shouldn’t make it too easy for the other team to get hold of the ball, especially once we have the ball. So it’s also about responsible decision-making and making the right decision at the right moment.”