I’ve been travelling the world recently and the one question people ask me is what is going wrong at Manchester United. I don’t work for the club but I love them.
It’s been a difficult time. It’s always sad when a manager is sacked. Ole is a friend, so I talked with him and said ‘thank you’ because people forget really quickly that he is the man who made us believe in Manchester United again.
Now no-one will be able to hide. I’m talking about the players, because when a manager gets the sack, the players should take responsibility. So let’s see let’s see what’s coming. We are talking already about a new manager but I’m focused right now on the players because they have to deliver.
Manchester United have reached an agreement to name Ralf Rangnick as interim manager
Players have this bad habit of not taking responsibility. In my time I was always going to the manager’s office if I could see a problem in the team, whether I was captain or not. I liked to be in charge of the health of the dressing room, which is why Ferguson loved me.
I wasn’t the kind of player to blame the manager for every bad result but it can be a tough time when players are not happy, there is negative energy and when you lose your dressing room, you’re a dead man.
Let’s be honest, United are missing leaders and big characters. We talk a lot about that and many of the ex-players agree. It’s not about shouting on the pitch, it is leading by example.
It’s not just a problem at United it’s about most Premier League teams now. Before, you could name six or even seven massive personalities in every team. You could play a team like Blackburn and be up against men, so you would know you’re going to have a tough day. Now it is more about young talent.
Patrice Evra feels United’s players showed a lack of leadership under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Some players back then didn’t have the talent, but they had personality. Today that is not the case. I was there for nine years and it was seven years before I lost two games in a row, when David Moyes was in charge. That’s the consistency needed to play for United. Even drawing a game was a disaster.
When we won the title in 2010 some critics said it was one of Ferguson’s worst sides, but we didn’t care because we won the title. We had character and we loved that pressure. We loved when people criticised us even when we were playing well, and this is missing in the squad now.
In 2008 we were champions of Europe and won the league, but the team wasn’t just about talent and personality. We were not friends, on the pitch or in training. Many times Sir Alex Ferguson stopped training sessions because we were fighting each other but at the end of the game, you know even if we’re swearing at each other, we’d say sorry, it’s the adrenaline, you know. It was a winning mentality and that’s what we had.
Now we have a mix of young exciting players plus characters such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani. But you need personality.
Former RB Leipzig manager Rangnick will be in charge of United until the end of the season
At United you need to play for many years having the respect of the fans, understand the story of playing for the badge, the passion. There are many characters in this team who have come from outside, they have the image of outsiders, whereas the fans want to feel connected to the players.
It’s about work ethic. To get the United fans in your pocket is like to bleed for the club, to give everything, to play with passion. I can understand some United fans don’t like it when they see their team lose and players post a video on social media laughing or whatever.
It’s not fair because your private life is your private life and you should only be judged on the pitch. But make sure you don’t have any distractions and you’re going to get all the love and support from the fans. But like I say, it’s like dying on the pitch.
As for a new manager, it is a hot seat and you will always be compared to Sir Alex Ferguson. Any manager who comes will be quickly judged, under pressure, and won’t have time to build a legacy.
Evra says the job ahead of Rangnick is ‘almost impossible’, with patience and results crucial
Mauricio Pochettino, one name mentioned, didn’t win anything with Tottenham, and if he comes in and doesn’t win anything after a few months, they will be saying: “why did we get him, we want a winner”.
Yet when they had winners like Mourinho and Van Gaal, the fans were not happy because they did not play the United way. So you need to both play the United way and you need to be a winner. If you don’t have both, like Sir Alex Ferguson, you’re going to have a short time.
It is almost an impossible, because nothing is impossible in life. But you need full support, patience and you need results, you need to win major trophies.
The next manager who comes to United and wins the league will get support for at least two or three years. That’s what the fans expect right now, a manager who can come and win the league.
Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the United vacancy
The FA Cup or League Cup, even the Champions League would be great, but the fans want the league. That is the most important thing and that’s what you have to target. When you win the league, you can have more time.
Let’s be realistic, this season’s league title is out of reach. But the Champions League? Anything can happen. If you have like a lucky draw, you can go right to the end.
Chelsea is the perfect example. They didn’t have a good league campaign last year but changed manager mid-season and succeeded.
That’s what we want – silverware. That should be the new manager’s goal. If he wins something, he will have more credit for next year.
I Love This Game by Patrice Evra, published by Simon & Schuster, is available from Amazon and other bookstores.
Patrice Evra took part in a live Q&A at Amazon’s Black Friday Live, giving his preview of Prime Video’s upcoming fixtures. You can watch the full stream again at amazon.co.uk/blackfridaylive