Manchester United fans have often been accused of wanting immediate success without being willing to endure the building process that takes part before any team can thrive.
Ralf Rangnick’s men had been expected to challenge for the Premier League title this season following some stellar work in the transfer market, but those expectations have long since been lowered.
Progress has definitely been made in recent seasons but United fans should have known that two or three new arrivals wouldn’t suddenly turn the team into title challengers.
Short-term thinking has plagued the club of late and new boss Rangnick is already falling into the trap of failing to plan for the future.
The interim manager faced the media on Monday ahead of his side’s home clash with Brighton and when asked how he plans to take United forward, Rangnick insisted that finishing in the top four was essential before adding that his side would be unable to finish any higher.
“I think this is the highest possible achievement we can get,” he said of United’s aim to finish fourth.
“Right now, this is exactly what Manchester United needs and wants; to finish fourth in the league.”
A damning assessment of where United are at as a football club.
Gone are the days of challenging for titles but, in fairness to him, he’d have looked foolish to suggest a title charge was still possible.
What’s more concerning is the fact he thinks even finishing third is already out of the question.
Chelsea currently occupy third spot, seven points ahead of United. However, should Rangnick’s team beat Brighton on Tuesday night they’ll trim the gap to the Blues to four points, although Thomas Tuchel’s side will hold a game in hand.
Not only could United move to within touching distance of Chelsea on Tuesday, they also still have to welcome the European champions to Old Trafford later in the season, meaning there’s still a possibility that United could finish above them in third place if they can start turning draws into victories.
Rangnick’s refusal to accept that finishing higher than fourth is a possibility is just the latest example of the club’s short-term thinking.
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Yes, qualifying for the Champions League is a must, but finishing above Chelsea would be a statement of intent for next season. The difference between third and fourth is very little bar the prize money but the message it would send out could be huge.
Again, United don’t seem to be interested in that. They just want to make sure this season isn’t a calamity.
If United are to ever challenge at the top of the league again they need to snap out of this short-term strategy that’s been holding them back for far too long.
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