Manchester United’s players are becoming increasingly concerned at the managerial void at Old Trafford as their season continues to unravel.
United’s 4-1 loss at Manchester City on Sunday was only their second defeat under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
However, they have won just eight of the German’s 18 games in charge, including none of the last three.
Meanwhile, BBC Sport also understands England striker Marcus Rashford is unsure of his Old Trafford future.
Rashford still wants to play for United and has another full season left on his contract – plus the option to extend until 2024.
But the 24-year-old, who started yesterday’s game on the bench despite the absences of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, feels his career has stalled and is concerned his international prospects will be damaged if the situation fails to improve.
In addition, it is hard to see Ronaldo, 37, wanting to stay for a second season if United fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Rangnick admitted to United’s own media channels that his side ‘can almost not drop any more points’ over their final 10 games if they are to secure a top-four berth.
Considering their run-in includes trips to Liverpool and Arsenal, plus home games against Tottenham on Saturday and then Chelsea on 15 May, getting maximum points will not be easy.
United know a failure to secure a place in next season’s Champions League will hamper their chances of trying to sign new players – or persuade others to stay, such as France midfielder Paul Pogba, who is out of contract in the summer.
While United’s players understand much of the responsibility for the current predicament lies with them, there is also a belief they are not being helped by the extended period without a permanent manager and lack of clarity over who will eventually succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked on 21 November.
Paris St-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag remain the frontrunners for the post. Last week, United’s football director John Murtough said a ‘thorough process’ was underway and it is understood that is advancing.
However, both men have contracts until 2023 and crucial Champions League last 16 second-leg ties looming, so direct communication at this stage would seem unlikely.
The situation is adding to a general air of uncertainty around Old Trafford, with numerous players becoming disenchanted with life at the club.
Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Cavani are almost certain to leave when their contracts expire in the summer. There is uncertainty too over the futures of goalkeeper Dean Henderson, defender Eric Bailly, plus Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek, who are currently on loan at Sevilla and Everton.
Speaking after the defeat by Premier League leaders Manchester City, midfielder Scott McTominay said accusations by former players Roy Keane and Gary Neville that United gave up at the Etihad were “incredibly disappointing”.
“I have nothing to say about problems [at the club],” McTominay told Sky Sports. “It’s not my place to say anything. We have a big end to the season coming up and we need to get in the Champions League. That’s all I’m thinking about.
“Whatever goes on behind the scenes is completely irrelevant to me. Obviously I’m part of it, but you have to concentrate on your own game. You can get too distracted by all the things that are going on at the football club.
“We have to stick together. We can’t let something like this be so damaging to us that we lack confidence going into the next game.”
‘Pathetic’ Man Utd in ‘total mess’ – Sutton
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club, former Premier League striker Chris Sutton said Manchester United are in a “total mess” and the squad requires “a massive overhaul” in the summer transfer window.
“I don’t know what the identity is any more. People speak about the past and the glory years – but those glory years haven’t been there for a long time now,” Sutton said.
“You have to question whether a lot of the players want to be at Manchester United any more. The dressing room is a cesspit. It’s full of big egos and they’re getting found out in a big, big way now.”
Sutton suggested that United needed to move out star names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba.
He said: “Ronaldo needs to go, without a doubt. Cavani, Pogba [also need to go]. Manchester United need to rip things up and start again.”
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards said: “Everyone in that squad is looking after themselves.
“I wouldn’t trust being in that squad, it’s pathetic. Where is the team spirit? Everything is getting out, I wouldn’t want to be in that dressing room.”