In a week which saw Manchester United reveal their new interim manager in Ralf Rangnick, MyBettingSites caught with for former United midfielder, Jonathan Greening. The one-time Champions League winner shared his thoughts on Harry Maguire buckling under the pressure of United captain, why United should look to emulate Liverpool and Manchester City’s success and the benefit of bringing Arsené Wenger back to Arsenal.
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: Manchester United will look to emulate Liverpool and Manchester City with Ralf Rangnick’s style of play
“The appointment of Ralf Rangnick shows that Manchester United are going for a fresh idea. They’ve tried different things in the past, like going back to the United DNA through Ole Gunnar Solskjær but that’s not really worked.
“All United fans want to see is attacking football with high energy, but with honest players as well. If you look at the guys that I played with at United, the likes of Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Dennis Irwin and Gary Neville, they were all honest lads who would run through a brick wall for the club and that’s what United have been missing.
“United have missed that type of player who will get on the ball when things aren’t quite working and look to make something happen. Or, if something bad happens in a game, or they’re one-nil down, they’re missing someone like Keano [Roy Keane] who will drag them back into the game. They need a player like that, but above all they just need more heart and passion. Over the last couple of years that’s what they’ve been lacking, and if Rangnick can bring that to the table through his high energy, off-the-ball pressing, playing good attacking football and creating chances, that’s all the fans want to see.
“Bringing him in for 6 months is a good move because it gives the club time to get to know him and vice-versa. If things go quite well, he’s staying as consultant, but you never know, he might be given the managerial job as well!
“United will have looked at Liverpool and Chelsea and thought that Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are his disciples, and they’ll see it as a good fit for the long-term. If he can get them to the level that Liverpool have been at for the last few years, then I’m sure every United fan would be very happy.”
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: If Bruno Fernandes’ form doesn’t improve, he should be dropped
“It’s a strange one with Bruno Fernandes. His energy and enthusiasm is still there but he’s just lacking that final creative ball. He’s missing the target a lot and hitting the ball over the bar as well, but he is still registering a few assists.
“His goals and assists over the last couple of seasons, since he’s been at United, has earned him a bit of leeway to stay in the team but if this dry run of games without a goal continues, it might be time to take him out the side. But given his recent history with all the goals and assists he’s got, which is phenomenal, then he deserves to stay in the team.
“Donny van de Beek has been really unlucky. He came in from Ajax and everyone was expecting really big things, including me. He’s a very clever footballer and he can dictate the pace of the game, put tackles in and score goals but he just hasn’t had the minutes.
“Now’s his chance to impress the new manager. He [Van de Beek] must show him [Rangnick] between now and the end of the season that he deserves his spot in the team. And when he does get his chance, at a club like United, he has to take it. If he gets one, two, or three games in the team, he needs to show that he deserves it.
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: United fans won’t have been happy with the performance against Chelsea
“I played at Manchester United and have been a fan for years, and I just want to see them play attacking football, like back in the glory days – as most fans do.
“But when you go to Stamford Bridge against a team like Chelsea who are absolutely flying and strong in all departments with two world class players in every position, you have to be a little bit careful. You can’t just go there and be gung-ho and all-out attack, especially with a players like Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane out injured.
“That said, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly did well given that it’s only the second or third time that they’ve played together this season.
“Everyone was pretty gob smacked, not just with the Ronaldo omission, but also the midfield trio of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matić but regardless, they did a job. Was I happy watching it? Probably not because as a United fan, we want to see more attacking football. They didn’t have many chances, especially not in the first half as Chelsea dominated possession and had the attempts.
“David De Gea kept United in the game in the first half, and they improved a bit in the second half, but they weren’t that much better. They scored the lucky breakaway goal with Jorginho’s bad touch which is probably the first bad touch I’ve ever seen him make.
“There weren’t too many clear-cut chances like the good old days of Becks [David Beckham] and Giggsy [Ryan Giggs] on the wings. But it’s a good point for United against a good team and they can take it into the next game.”
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: Harry Maguire’s drop-off in form could be due to the pressure of the United captaincy
“It’s a lot of responsibility being the captain of Manchester United. I had some unbelievable captains like Roy Keane and Bryan Robson. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of interviews and a lot of people asking questions, especially if you’re not playing very well.
“Harry Maguire is a very emotional person, as we saw with his celebration for England when he was gesturing to shut everyone up. You don’t move for a fee of £75 million if you’re not a top player and you don’t move to a club like Manchester United either. He plays almost every game for England and United when he’s fit so the talent is there.
“He has been off the boil for the last few months and that could be the pressure of the captaincy.
“United don’t have players like Roy Keane or Jaap Stam who have the bite and leadership skills to drag everyone around and shout at people. There don’t seem to be many in the squad who can do that. If he [Rangnick] does want to play Ronaldo, one of the best players in the world, the captain of Portugal, someone whose played in so many big tournaments and Champions League finals so he could decide that Ronaldo is going to be captain and be one of the main players and Harry Maguire can just concentrate on being a centre half and stopping goals.”
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: United fans are fed up with Paul Pogba
“Most people are frustrated by Paul Pogba. We all know that on his day, he can be world class, teams can’t get the ball off him, he can take players on, can find an unbelievable pass, score goals or do a bit of skill that no one has ever seen before.
“But it only happens once every eight or nine games and the rest of the games, he’s lethargic and loses the ball. Fans are just frustrated now. The way that Pogba and his agent [Mino Raiola] leak things about new clubs, and new contracts have always left a sour taste in fans mouths as well as with former coaches like Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
“His contract is up at the end of the season and he’s yet to sign a new one so he’s free to sign a pre-contract agreement in January with a foreign club. He might be playing a game where he says he wants to stay under the new manager just so he can get his contract offer bumped up a bit, you just never know with him.
“The biggest disappointment is that we see him in major tournaments with France and he’s superb and wins trophies with them. But at United, he just seems to be a bit lackluster and doesn’t seem to have that same energy and passion for every game like a United player should. He turns up a couple of times and then goes missing for a while, then he’ll pick up a little injury and miss even more and throughout that, there’s stories coming out about his future.
“He just needs to concentrate on his football and if he does want to stay at United, he needs to show it on the pitch; that’s the best way to do it and show that fans that he wants to be a United player.”
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: Gabriel Martinelli should start for Arsenal against Manchester United
“I like Gabriel Martinelli a lot. He was sharp when he came on at the weekend. He took the finish for his goal superbly; it was a brilliant run with a composed finish, and he’d only been on the field for a few minutes.
“Martinelli had a terrible injury a few years ago. I’d watched him a lot before that and I thought he’s brilliant, energetic, can take players on and he can score goals. It took him a while to get back from the injury, and he looked like he was lacking fitness prior to the weekend.
“Why shouldn’t Arsenal throw him in against Manchester United? He’s everything the United defenders don’t like. He’s pacey, they don’t like trickery or someone with his type of movement.
“He’s got great potential at a good club with a manager who likes young technical players. He has excellent coaches who can teach him the game and the ins and the outs of his position. The best thing is, he can play down the left and the right or even through the middle.
“The key for him will be staying injury free and getting a run of games. He could be a top player for Arsenal.”
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: Arsenal SHOULD bring Arsene Wenger into the club
“Arsène Wenger is a bit of a God at Arsenal, with everything he did for the club. He’s a lovely man, and everyone likes him. The fans, players, older players and even opposition respect him.
“Arsenal bringing Wenger back to the club is a good idea if the manager is on board with it. If you bring a club legend back, it often goes badly, but the manager has a good relationship with him. The fans would like it to happen, and it would be good for the club.
“They are in transition; they are still way off the top clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea. They are similar to Manchester United, where they need to rebuild. It’ll take time and patience, but him coming back in will help settle things down. It’ll give the manager more time and include relations between everyone at the club – including the fans.”
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: Valérien Ismaël is under pressure at West Brom
“Valérien Ismaël is under pressure at West Brom, not necessarily for their current run of results, but because of the style of football being played. It’s very direct, long ball football straight into the box. The Baggies fans prefer the ball on the ground, with an attacking style.
“One victory in five games won’t help his situation. They were in an excellent place [with their league position] and now Bournemouth and Fulham are flying and it’s theirs to lose.
“West Brom need to kick themselves into gear, because when you get sucked into the playoffs there’s a lot of pressure on you. I remember the year that we lost the playoff final to Derby, we were in and out of third and sixth place all season. When you start dropping down, the tension is palpable.
“When you get on a good run and win games, the confidence is there to spur you on. Those in seventh and eighth place will be feeling like they can catch West Brom. They have to turn it around quickly. Several players are underperforming. They need to get the big players back, performing and scoring goals. That’s how they’ll get the fans back on side.”
Jonathan Greening Exclusive: If Fulham get promoted, Aleksandar Mitrović will stay
“Aleksandar Mitrović has the quality to score goals in the Premier League. He can score all kinds of goals and he bangs them in the Championship. He’s absolutely lethal and Fulham are strong favourites to go up.
“Every time he’s been in the Premier League, he hasn’t seemed to hit the same heights – with either Newcastle or Fulham. But, is that because the teams he’s been promoted with aren’t strong enough and aren’t creating the chances? Whereas in the Championship, he’s with stronger teams that are creating chances, which factor in.
“If he gets promoted with Fulham again, he will stay, the fans and club absolutely love him. He needs to start finding his goalscoring boots up there though. Most will see him as a top Championship player, but can he do it up there? If he does that, people will stop referring to him as that level.”